For those who have read what I write or have sat down to chat with me, the idea that telling “your tale” is an important part of my job as a lawyer will probably not surprise you. I think that we are entrusted with the client’s story of what has happened to them and how and why they have ended up at my desk telling me their story. I am aware that taking that story and translating it in such a manner that it truly speaks to the Court and the Judge is often paramount to obtaining justice. As Justice Brownstone has reminded us often, when we take a family law client’s matter to Court, we are asking a judge, who doesn’t know or understand the parties to make decisions and choices about their most important and intimate issues – their family. My job is to tell the story in such a way that the judge not only understands but also cares.
Telling our client’s stories is a vital part of what we do and of course the corollary is equally important the ability to really listen to the story that the client is trying to tell, the one s/he “needs” to tell. I am not one to generally blow my own horn… but I am very good at translating my client’s stories. To tell their story to the Court in manner that makes good sense, that is easy to follow and compelling and that really ‘speaks” to the Court, that is a unique skill that I am very good at.
So the next question is why? What makes someone a good story teller? I could tell you that maybe it has something to do with enjoying a good story or being an avid reader – but I’ve been thinking maybe it was there in my DNA the whole time – my Zaidi was a wonderful story teller. I remember sitting at my grandparents dinner table as a child and listening to my Zaidi tell joke after joke. No one told a joke or a story like he did, he’d embellish the story and get you involved long before he’d get to the punchline, he’d grab you and you’d follow his telling right until the end. There are probably many characteristics that I have inherited from my parents and grandparents, but perhaps the most enduring has been the ability to tell a good story, maybe that is the essential skill I learnt from my Zaidi when I was just a young child, the ability to listen and then tell the story and have people listen right to the end.