The Tribe of Chopin and Slash

I went to law school knowing that I wanted to try cases. That’s all I wanted to do. I knew there was money, big money, to be had in transactional work – negotiating contracts, etc., but I didn’t care about that. I wanted the battle.

Luckily, I was in Chicago, and so I was able to observe many great trial lawyers. And here’s what I noticed: I wasn’t like most of them. I wasn’t loud or outgoing. I didn’t have what seemed to me to be an almost pathological need to impress people (one lawyer’s waiting room was wallpapered with news articles about his courtroom victories, another’s office was covered in drawings of himself arguing cases). Instead, I was quiet and reserved. Those lawyers mistook my introversion for shyness, and decided that they didn’t have any use for me.

I was angry and upset about their rejection for a while, but then I just forged on ahead because I knew I’d make a great trial lawyer. I was right. Despite what those guys must have thought, I haven’t collapsed in tears or passed out during a trial yet. Not even once. I’m an introvert. That doesn’t mean that I can’t perform. It just means that I’m not going to get all in your face about it.

I’ve been thinking about this because I was listening to an interview with Slash the other day and he mentioned not liking to sing or promote albums and it hit me: He’s an introvert, like me. And he’s awesome.

I imagine that when Slash gets on stage, he feels much like I do when I start a trial. I enter a kind of Avatar State. Some usually dormant part of me comes to life and fills me with energy and I can just do it. I get activated. And then I go home and don’t feel the need to prove anything to anybody until the next trial.

I mean, here’s how I see it: there are Chopin fans and there are Liszt fans. You can admire and respect them both, but if you listen to them long enough you’re going to be drawn to one or the other.

Those Chicago guys were Liszt lawyers, full of bombast and flash. That’s fine, but it’s not for me. I’m not interested in dazzle.

I prefer Chopin. On first listen, maybe his music doesn’t grab you in quite the same way that a piece celebrating Mephistopheles might, but something about it keeps you coming back, and you start to hear more and more, and the profundity of what you missed in those early encounters – because Chopin didn’t come right out and tell you about it – starts to be revealed.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t have anything against those extroverted Liszt lawyers. Many of them are great, and their Steve Vai brand of showmanship can get results. But if that’s not who you are, don’t worry about it. The courtroom is just another stage, and there’s a place for the Slashes and the Chopins too.

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