Monday, September 19, 2011

A Search for Style

I meant to write this earlier, but I got so busy wrapping up JAG school and getting back to DC that I haven't had time.  So, a quick and interesting look at perhaps the most important thing I learned at school, and maybe a thing that I knew all along.

I blogged already about the first court-martial that we did and how that went for me.  We did another court-martial, this one fully litigated with jury selection, opening arguments, evidence presentation, etc.  It turns out that I did really well in that, and was selected to argue in a competition (which I lost) but then I won the Lowry award for top graduate in the class, so that made up for losing the competition :-)

But, that's all neither here nor there.  The most important thing that I discovered was my "style" for arguing.  Every time we did mock arguments at school, the instructors always wanted us to find our style, our theme, our way of doing things.  After we would argue, they would tell us all things to improve, so it was hard to really find a "style" when instructors seemed to always be telling us to do it more like they do it.  One instructor was very conversational and relaxed.  One was very intense and borderline rude to everyone.  And they both worked, really.

So, in my life-long identity crisis, I found myself at a place where I had to find a style.  I couldn't flit about from one personality to another, I had to really find my style of arguing, and in a great sense, find out who I was in order to do my best arguing. 

And I did.  As a constant over-preparer and overanalyst, I decided that I felt most comfortable when I was prepared, methodical, and calm.  I wouldn't get fired up and excited about arguments, but would calmly explain my point of view so that there was no doubt that I was the most rational attorney in the room, even if my position wasn't always the best.  During the competition, a wild and funny confrontational attorney competed before me, thrilling my classmates with his antics.  I probably brought the whole room down when I came in very calm and earnest.  Neither of us wrong, just different.

So I was excited to find a style that worked for me, and that seemed to work in the court.  But then I stumbled on a letter written by my late Grandma Liffick.  She wrote me letters all the time when I was in college and in the Army, until she passed on March 15, 2005.  I have a ton of her letters saved in a wooden box in my guest room.  One day last week, I randomly picked one out and this is what it said:

"I was up at Heart Center for my treatment and we were watching channel 10 when there you were on TV." (Note that she was watching my "hometown greetings" commercials that we filmed while I was in Iraq that the local news will air) So all my friends got to see the granddaughter I've been bragging about.  They said you were a beautiful person.  Harborside brought Harold (my grandfather and his nursing home) lunch in the lounge to eat so we could see you on channel 2.  You made both local stations.  How about that?  You looked so good, spoke clearly and very calm - Grandpa and I sure are proud of you and love you lots and lots.

So there you have it.  That calm, methodical style that I thought I found a month ago?  My grandma just reminded me that I've had it all along.  Thanks, grandma!

1 comment:

Julia said...

You just made me cry...Grandma's letters are the best :)