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Lessons for attorneys from musical theater

Evan Koslow

Evan Koslow

Have you seen “Hamilton”? I had the pleasure of seeing it at The Kennedy Center the other day. In addition to being a remarkable performance, it had me thinking a lot about the practice of law and dealing with other attorneys. Although there are no longer duels to the death, a lot could be learned about the feud/differences between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.

In the second musical number, Aaron Burr offers some advice to Alexander Hamilton: “Talk less, smile more.” Later in the show, Burr and the chorus sing to Hamilton: “Why do you assume you are the smartest in the room…soon that attitude may be your doom…”

Obviously, we all know history has Aaron Burr as the bad guy. However, these messages ring true in the legal profession, and his advice should be heeded by all of us.

Most attorneys feel the need to talk more and prove themselves to be the smartest in the room in order to properly advocate for their clients. But I think Burr was right that sometimes it is better to talk less and smile more. Even if you believe that you are the smartest person in the room (confidence is good), you shouldn’t make it known. You don’t want reputation of being arrogant with a know-it-all type of attitude. This will not help your clients and it could lead to the ultimate doom of your practice.

Have you seen any musicals, movies or shows that have inspired your legal work?