“Um” and its discontents

Umm, hi everyone. Umm, does anyone want to join the Facebook discussion I’ll be moderating on Thursday, April 6 at 3 p.m. Eastern? (Note this time is corrected from some earlier messages.)? The topic is the article “The Lawyer’s Guide to Um” by professor Barbara Gotthelf in Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD. Professor Barbara Gotthelf will be joining the conversation, which is open to all lawyers, legal professionals, and law students. You just have to join the Legal Communication and Rhetoric Discussion Group on Facebook before the discussion begins.

I previously mentioned the article here on the blog and recommend the entire thing—which is a pleasure to read—as preparation for the discussion. Gotthelf does not hide the ball:

[U]sing uh and um was not only “perfectly normal,” but also helpful in furthering effective communication.

Whether you hate “um” or barely even notice it, if you’re interested in lawyering and public speaking then this conversation is of interest to you.

This Discussion Group is a project of the journal Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD and is active during scheduled discussions such as this one. This Discussion Group seeks to bring together lawyers, law professors, law students, and legal professionals generally to discuss legal writing and advocacy topics. I’m one of the Social Media Editors for Legal Communication & Rhetoric and look forward to moderating this discussion.

International Women’s Day: A Small Contribution

Almost exactly four years ago I started writing posts for Listen Like a Lawyer, working on posts for several months before launching in August 2013. My main motivation was to write about listening as an underappreciated part of law practice and legal education. I believed then—and believe now even more strongly—that effective listening is a significant factor distinguishing successful lawyers and law students. I believed then—and believe now even more strongly as well—that effective listening is endangered by the smartphone-centric professional lifestyle embraced/necessitated/passively accepted by many in the legal industry.

Gender was not at the forefront of my motivations at the time, although I had certainly been “manterrupted” and advised to smile more and criticized for being too business-like and too meek etc. etc. etc. (There was also the visiting scholar who put a hand on my knee while saying anyone who teaches legal writing must be an idiot, and some other worse memories. But those experiences were not on my mind when launching the blog.)

In these four years, I’ve touched on gender in a number of posts. Maybe not enough, but some. I was going to manually curate those posts here, today, in recognition of International Women’s Day.

And then I realized something much better, something obvious that should have been here all along: a blog category for gender. Instead of copying and pasting links, I’ve searched through the archives and added the gender category to relevant posts. Readers should be able to see the gender category here at the top of this post. Just click on it for access to other relevant posts. “Do men and women listen differently?” is the most gender-focused content on this site as of now, and the answer is, “It’s complicated.”