Leading Blog






08.24.07

Louis Nizer: A Leader Wears Many Hats

A Leader Wears Many Hats

Louis Nizer
ONE autobiography I never tire of is Louis Nizer’s Reflections Without Mirrors. I keep coming back to it. Originally published in 1978, it is timeless. I’ve always appreciated his wit and style of writing. The British born American attorney died at age 92 in November 1994. His observations about life, the legal profession and his part in it ring true in many other walks of life as well. Here are a few comments from this legendary attorney:

Louis Nizer

It took as much energy to unify our comrades as to prepare our own brief. A lawyer, particularly when he deals with eminent co-counsel, whose talents and achievements warrant strong egos, must be a consummate diplomat.

What else must he be? He must be an archeologist who exhumes evidence; a psychologist who strengthens his client and weakens his enemy; a paragon of patience to withstand the unreasonableness of troubled clients; a man of endurance to withstand the strain of the most arduous profession; an optimist in the darkest hours and a pessimist in the brightest, so that momentum doesn’t slacken; a historian of the law so that he can better predict its future; an idealist in the service of justice and a practical man who may forgo litigation in his client’s interest; a precisionist who must draft documents which defy ambiguity; a negotiator who makes deals not breaks them; an administrator who can recommend corporate efficiency and achieve it in his own office; a pleader whose eloquence is harnesses by sincerity; a scholar who is not confused by his own learning; a lover of the law so that sacrifice for it becomes a selfish act; a visionary who uses legal tools to sculpt a better society; and a realist who knows that it is impossible to attain any of these except to a small degree but who never stops trying.

Those words cause me to take a step back. Any leader would be strengthened by applying these concepts in their own arena.

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