“Could you repeat the question?”

When I first read this headline, I thought the article was about trial tactics. But, alas, it’s not.

Rather, it’s about a Georgetown University School of Law professor who has written about students failing to pay attention in class to the actual interplay between professor and students — because they’re busy typing on their laptops. As Prof. Cole, says, he doesn’t know if they’re merely transcribing his comments (verbatim, without thought processing), instant messaging, or buying shoes on the internet. Whatever they’re doing, they’re not paying attention. And so, recently, he said to his students that they may no longer use laptops in his classroom!

This phenomenon repeats itself many times in our society, everyday. We see people driving cars while speaking on a cell phone and almost (sometimes more than "almost") getting into accidents, missing off-ramps on the highway or city and swerving to make an exit or lane switch that they should have prepared for earlier, thinking about something else while one’s spouse is conversing with a request at the end of the communication (and we have to say, "huh?") and many other examples you can roll out from your own experience.

This also happens in the law firm. One example is the law firm whose strategic plan gets crafted without full input from all the stakeholders – clients, staff, associates, paralegals, partners and even vendors and lenders – merely because we failed to take the time to listen to the full import of what they may have to offer us.  Take away those laptops and listen! Or, paraphrasing, if you want to be most profitable with the most interesting of matters and the nicest people to represent, be be sure to actively listen to the conversations around you. Don’t tune out – Do tune in! Keep an open management style and involve the various stakeholders for you firm in your success!


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