“We are not won by arguments that we can analyse, but by tone and temper; by the manner, which is the man himself.”
A lawyer’s mind is like unravelling a pandora’s box, you never ever get to know or expect of what such a mind will show you perhaps the most intriguing of things. As a rookie or someone fresh into this field, you must have wondered – how do the most successful of all people become so ridiculously good in it? Sometimes you ought to wonder as to what goes inside a lawyer’s mind when he is one on one against a judge who will eventually decide his case and fate. Anyone today can grab a few law books and state the law accordingly but well that’s not how it works, does it? Lawyer’s profession is that of a well-prescribed art. There are courts, courts have judges, judges have their ears all out and open to listen to you and then there is you who has to put in a good solid play to compel that top authority and make it all work. So, the obvious ones – How does a lawyer argue? How does he/she formulate such arguments? What if the persuasiveness fails? What if the judge objects and puts forth upon you some puzzling questions to which you get paralysed? What if you take the wrong arguments and try to take a plan B?
To so many what-ifs and not, I think this particular book explains it all so well with illustrious yet funny real-life instances and examples of how to actually construe your arguments and take-ons, identifying fallacies, to beat others into your persuasive submission and use rhetoric in a completely different way. The author’s specific points, illustrations and notes so prescribed in the book will help young aspiring lawyers in a long way as they will seek to construct better arguments and feel confident enough themselves to properly argue in a court of law.
What is really nice about this book is that the author has classified this book as a whole in different chapters where each of them addresses the different points or characteristics to be evaluated and looked upon carefully. The book has five sections – Offense, Defence, Advanced Agreements which are further divided into chapters to be glanced upon. [Allan, Patrick (2016), Thank You For Arguing Is a Masterclass In Modern Rhetoric, Lifehacker.com. https://lifehacker.com/thank-you-for-arguing-is-a-master-class-in-modern-rheto-1780939017].
Like one of the chapters, “Open your Eyes” many examples and forms of arguments and rhetoric are compared and spoken of and how many things from our daily life instances revolve around these particular elements. Thus, persuasiveness and smart rhetoric is much crucial and needed in this field. If you want to be a more persuasive person in all aspects of life, this book is a great place to start.
Another chapter, “Call A Foul” explains what is a defence in a rhetoric which is a critical evaluation for lawyers. Your argument does not need to be correct, but your persuasiveness must be. Two wrongs don’t make a right but a good persuasiveness in your style of debating, arguing and answering every single query will surely make everything right. It also teaches about maintaining a good healthy pace within your arguments, not to overdo simple things and just rely on persuasiveness and not just setting up an offense.
The chapter, “Make Them Listen” speaks about how you are to persuade someone to be more attentive and eager to listen to you. This is like oxygen to the best lawyer. Always remember this, you are just another lawyer for any judge who is just interested in hearing and getting your case off her table as soon as possible and will look upon you leniently like any other lawyer. You need to be a good charmer in your arguments and style of debating and presenting your facts and laws so that the judge above is fixated and indeed hypnotised. The book has good references of Abraham Lincoln for these tactics, who perhaps was one of the most powerful and best orators out there. [Whitworth, Damian (2017), How to win any argument, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/profile/damian-whitworth]. Adding to this, the book teaches of how you need to devote your interest to the value of others in general life and how to put your shoes in other parties’ place so that there is no bias whatsoever.
The Advanced Offense section covers more nuanced techniques that can be applied to the main skills you learn earlier in the book. [Allan, Patrick (2016), Thank You For Arguing Is a Masterclass In Modern Rhetoric, Lifehacker.com]. These include using cleverness and wit to make an audience like you, using specific language to appeal to different audiences, handling screw-ups without apologizing, and using the right medium for your argument. Examples of Barack Obama, yet another powerful and impactful orator is stated here with his examples.
What is yet another interesting aspect about techniques mentioned in the book are that they are very smart and tactically enhance you to give you a considerable gap between when you concede to a certain fallacy and how do you wish to further make amends to your arguments. Tactically conceding points is the best trick you can have up your sleeve in any argument. People who don’t know how to argue aim to score “points,” or try to be the most correct so they “win.” The author here has taken a good stance based on the principles of Aristotle and has moulded it into believing in a theory where it is not necessary that just being “right” helps you “win”. [Allan, Patrick (2016), Thank You For Arguing Is a Masterclass In Modern Rhetoric, Lifehacker.com]. Sometimes, conceding or accepting a small defeat will help you relax off, rethink and save some debating points for the future. This has been yet again demonstrated with clever yet funny rhetoric quoting from the book –
When a spouse says, “We hardly ever go out anymore,” the wise mate does not spew examples of recent dates; he says, “That’s because I want you all to myself.” This response will at least buy him time to think up a credible change in tense: “But as a matter of fact, I was going to ask if you wanted to go to that new Korean restaurant.”
Consider this in your aspect of law – a judge counters you in an argument, as a response you can either boast or prolongate your point or stance but it may not be right and the man sitting atop may shush you down. But conceding to a point, offering an explanation, regrouping yourself as a whole and pushing it to a distant future for a much perfect response will be much apt. Thus, this is another forte much needed and needs its presence inbuilt in a good lawyer. You may not win the argument, but you’ll be able to better manage your opponent’s emotions and keep the focus on solving the problem so a simple argument doesn’t become a throwdown. [Whitworth, Damian (2017), How to win any argument].
Thus, every section and chapter so offered by the author is a treat and feast for lawyers to be enjoyed upon. It speaks in detail about various wacky situations you can land yourself in and how to successfully replicate, “Even when there is nothing, there is a way” concept. The book can teach about what involves successful manoeuvring of arguments, persuasiveness and channelling your inner speaker and orator. If you want to be a more persuasive person in all aspects of life, this book is a great place to start. It will teach you to make arguments constructive, help you become a better speaker and presenter, and it will even help you be a better leader.
(The author is a lawyer at High Court of Judicature at Bombay, Nagpur Bench)