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Lessons from the Great Conversation – Cicero Part I

On beginning to apply himself more resolutely to public business, he remarked it as an and absurd thing that artificers, using vessels and instruments inanimate, should know the name, place, and use of every one of them, and yet the statesman, whose instruments for carrying out public measures are men, should be negligent and careless in the knowledge of persons. And so be not only acquainted himself with the names , but also knew the particular place where every one of the more eminent citizens dwelt, what lands he possessed,  the friends he made use of, and those that were of his neighbourhood, and when he travelled on any road in Italy, he could readily name and show the estates and seats of his friends and acquaintance.

-Cicero’s opinion of how to conduct one’s affair as a lawyer; Plutarch, Cicero, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans (c. 75-100 AD) John Dryden translation.

A bust of Cicero

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Cicero January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC) a Roman philosopherstatesmanlawyerpolitical theorist, and Roman constitutionalist voiced the same complaint over 2000 years ago that many people have about lawyers today – they do not pay enough attention to their colleagues, their industry, or their clients. Cicero is generally considered to be one of the greatest lawyers Rome ever produced and his complaint and insight rings as true today as it did when he initially voiced it during his ascendancy to public affairs as a lawyer.

Connections matter. Not in some feeble, social media, web 2.0 sort of fashion (though they are a part of it) but real connections. Knowing people’s names, their birthdays, their likes and passions. The people lawyers interact with everyday, be it colleagues or clients, must be viewed as real relationships and not merely a means to an end. These relationships must be nurtured (for more on this see the post below) and seen as holding real value. In fact, these relationships might actually be the most valuable thing for a lawyer to possess.