That’s the takeaway from this New York Times article juxtaposing their reasoned, analytical grounding with a penchant for eating the same meal every day, not getting a haircut during a trial and using the same door to enter and exit the Manhattan courthouse.
“It’s part of the human condition that no matter how many years of education you’ve had, you still have faith in certain totems,” Arthur R. Miller, a law professor at New York University, tells the Times. “I won’t go to court without a three-piece suit and without a red tie, and without a red pocket square.”
One lawyer who’s represented organized crime figures says he gives $20 to any homeless person who asks when he’s working a trial.
Rituals like these are common to many professional walks of life, of course. In the theater, there’s the prohibition on whistling backstage. Emergency room doctors and nurses refrain from saying the ER is “quiet,” or things are “slow,” for fear of sparking a cavalcade of ambulances. Hockey players grow beards during the playoffs; baseball players never mention the possibility of a no-hitter to a pitcher vying for the historical feat.
In journalism, there’s a printing room ritual called “banging them out,” which involves banging pica poles (metal rulers used to measure type) on hard surfaces to honor someone’s last day at the newspaper. The Sun’s John McIntyre describes this and other rituals at his “You Don’t Say” blog.
What superstitions or rituals do you adhere to while working on a big case?