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Lawyer-Poet a Tough Trial Opponent

Posted Dec 3, 2007 4:18 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Being a trial lawyer isn't that different, in some ways, from being a poet, says Forrest Hainline III.

He should know, since he does both. In addition to trying business cases, the San Francisco partner of Goodwin Procter also pens succinct poems on topics ranging from reverent to racy, reports New York Lawyer (reg. req.), in a reprint of a Recorder article.

As the firm's website puts it, Hainline—who is also a black belt in aikido—believes that a trial lawyer "has to combine the skills of a priest, poet and prizefighter." Sensitivity to the rhythm of the courtroom is key to success at trial, he tells the legal newspaper, and reading poetry aloud does a lot more to train trial lawyers than multiple continuing legal education courses.

"Most lawyers try their hardest to take 10 words and turn them into 10,000," says Hainline. "I try to take 10,000 and turn them into 10."

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