What Tibetan Goatherders Can Teach us About Lawyering

I've noticed an unfortunate trend among bloggers that's worth flagging. Maybe it's a pet peeve. Either way, people lately seem to associate two totally random things that have no connection at all, and ask what one can teach the other (or what one can learn from the other). Mostly these posts come from people trying to move the legal profession along, which in my book is a worthy goal. But at a certain point, you have to ask, what does one really have to do with the other, and is there really a need to stretch the analogy so far?

Some examples:
There are a lot of other examples out there. Who knows, maybe there's some sort of blogging camp or webinar where this is taught as a tried and true method?  It may appeal to some, but let me just say it doesn't work for me.  It sort of brings to mind a jab in one of Justice Scalia's opinions:
Applying the ‘relate to’ provision according to its terms was a project doomed to failure, since, as many a curbstone philosopher has observed, everything is related to everything else.
While we are on the topic of analogies between lawyering and other activities, for me, one of my prior jobs that lends some good experience to lawyering is waiting tables.  You deal with a bunch of customers in both situations and your ultimate goal is to keep them happy.  You have to communicate and keep them apprised of where their matter is.  But most importantly, you have to juggle.  In my busy moments (like now) where I'm juggling a bunch of stuff, I feel exactly like I did back in my waiting table days.  The possibility of being frazzled exists.  I've experienced it in both situations. 

As for Tibetan goatherders, I'm sure there's a lot they could teach us about lawyering.  Then again, they can probably teach a lot of people about a lot of different things. Added: a money comment from David Sugerman in response to the question: "not much and an awful lot." 

Legal Blog Watch: links to this post.  More examples from the comments there.

BTW:  check out Jay Shepherd's blawg review # 246, with predictions for 2010.
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  • 1/12/2010 8:04 AM David Sugerman wrote:
    Nice work. I often say that the most important pre-law job I had was working as a line cook in various restaurants. Every cook knows that success comes from working hard, getting the dish right, and getting it all out on time. Be on the look out for for my forthcoming new post-what line cooks can teach the legal profession.
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  • 1/12/2010 9:42 AM Evan Brown wrote:
    Was glad you didn't put the title of my post from this morning on your list, though it would have fit right in, in a nice, smooth, isomorphic kind of way.

    There's something very pleasing about using analogy. Some (like Hofstadter) might even say it's at the core of our cognition.

    But like anything else, consuming too much of something, or stuff of a low grade, can make us tubby around the middle. I think you've correctly identified a valid point where a healthier diet would be appropriate!
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  • 1/13/2010 1:47 PM Paul Karlsgodt wrote:
    Thanks for not using one of my many examples. I think this article teaches us all a thing or two about the practice of law.
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  • 1/13/2010 1:48 PM Jay Shepherd wrote:
    Uh, thanks?

    I'm confused, Venkat. It's OK for you to draw lessons from waiting tables, but the rest of us shouldn't draw similar analogies? In the case of my post, was the problem that I was a restaurant consumer while you were a restaurant employee? Or am I just missing the distinction.

    If you have a disagreement with a position taken in someone's post, by all means offer your reasons why you disagree. That leads to useful discussion. But if someone's style doesn't work for you, the simplest thing is to quit reading them. I might not love blog titles that are puns on movie names ("The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Drive"), but if that works for you, you go with your bad self. As for blawgging camp, I'm not aware of any, but I'm happy to learn from just about anybody.

    Anyway, thanks for sort-of plugging my pizza post. I'm guessing that some people will appreciate the analogy, and others won't. And thanks, too, for plugging the Blawg Review.

    Happy New Year.

    — Jay
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  • 1/14/2010 9:02 PM Venkat wrote:
    Thanks for the comments. It's always good to get a reaction, whether good or bad.

    Jay, I enjoy your blogs and your writing style. Thanks for being a good sport about it.

    Evan and Paul, I probably could have drawn from my own well in coming up with examples.

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