Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Bird is in Your Hands...

Every semester, on the first day of class, I tell the same story. It is a story that Gerry Spence often includes in his final argument to a jury at the end of a long trial.

Gerry Spence is the lawyer from Wyoming who has never lost a case. Some of his detractors allege he hypnotizes juries! The reality is that Spence is just an incredible attorney.

Spence was representing a young Native American man who had been accused of a crime. He told this story.

In my client's tribe, there is a tradition. If you can outsmart the Chief, you become Chief.

One day a young brave named Black Crow came up with the perfect plan to fool his Chief. He ran into the woods and caught a sparrow.

He placed the sparrow in his cupped hands.

He ran back and found his Chief. He said, "Chief, is the sparrow I hold in my hands alive or dead?"

It was perfect. If the Chief said "alive" then all Black Crow had to do was push his hands together and the bird would be dead.

If the Chief said "dead" then the brave could open his hands and the bird would fly off.

But the Chief was truly wise and he looked down at the young brave and said

The bird is in YOUR hands, my son. The bird is in YOUR hands.

Then I tell the students that I cannot promise whether this class will be interesting or not or whether they will learn much or not -- because, as with everything in life, the bird is in their hands.

Thanks for stopping by.


Small City Scenes said...

A very wise cheif has spoken. Such a truism.
I remember reading about Spence years ago and followed his story for awhile. An amazing man. MB

Leslie: said...

Great analogy.

Jo said...

You have so many wonderful stories, and this is definitely one of my favorites.

What a fabulous post. In fact, this should be one of Hilary's "Post of the Week". ;-)

Cloudia said...

Wonderful teaching story!

Aloha, Friend

Comfort Spiral

Anonymous said...

I live on a small acreage with my dog, Bailey.

"I have often spoken of “the magic mirror.” It reflects who we are with each other. If the lawyer does not trust the jurors, the jurors will not trust the lawyer. If the lawyer does not like the jurors, the jurors will respond in kind. If the lawyer keeps secret his or her feelings the jurors will secret their own. If the lawyer hides behind big words and tricky tactics the jurors will turn away from him. How hard is this to understand? I keep insisting that our role models should be our children. I have often said I have learned more from my kids and my dogs than from all of the super minds out there."


Mean Mama said...

Thanks Russell. This is a wonderful story, and good for me as I am back at the grind...pre law.

Russell said...

To G.S.

If you really are who I think you are, it is a great honor to have you share a few words with me.

I feel very humbled.

I agree with your magic mirror thoughts. It is so true that people respond in kind.

A person I know once told me that a smile can open many doors. So can a kind word. So can an open heart.

And the best friend is the friend who is willing to listen.

Pauline said...

that's a story worth retelling!

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