Martin E.P. Seligman’s Authentic Happiness recently had a mailing reporting on studies indicating that the best advice about a given matter was obtained from someone “who had been there”, even if this person were a stranger. Such advice was superior to other forms of information.
As a graduate of Stanford Law School (class of 1971), I regularly get the Stanford Lawyer, which I always read cover to cover, including the class notes of all graduated classes. This, I find, always gives me a sense of perspective about life because I am reading about successful people who “have been there” and who thus have valuable experiences to communicate to others.
The Spring 2005 issue of that Stanford Lawyer has an important piece of advice for future law students by William “Bill” Clarke Sanford, Jr., member of a dynasty of Sanford [not Stanford] lawyers in Reno, Nevada.
Joel H. Sharp, Jr., 1960 Stanford Law class correspondent remarks “How many of us agree with this!”, and quotes “Bill” as follows:
“[Bill’s advice to a grandchild thinking of studying law was to] “take all the courses you can in English. Learn to write. Too many people in the law have no idea how to articulate in writing.”
As someone who taught a law school course in Legal Writing for many years, I could not agree more.