Daily Office: Matins
“Time to Perform”
Friday, 18 February 2011

We’ll be damned: there are Times readers who will be surprised to learn that trial lawyers are a superstitious bunch. Or maybe not; maybe Benjamin Weiser and his editors are just pretending, so that they can share a lot of ridiculous anecdotes.  

“Trial lawyers believe in jinxes,” Mr. Finzi acknowledged from White Plains, where he is defending a man in a murder trial. Along with using his keen judgment and legal skills, Mr. Finzi made clear that he was doing whatever else was necessary.

“I’ve been up here 10 days,” he said earlier this month, “and I’ve had a tuna fish sandwich for lunch every single day.”

But Joshua L. Dratel questioned his colleagues’ adherence to superstition, asking, “If where I ate dinner last night decides the merits of a case, then what’s the point of even trying?”

And Steven M. Cohen, another veteran lawyer, observed, “You certainly wouldn’t want to learn that your heart surgeon or your 747 pilot always wears the same pair of underwear when it’s time to perform.”

Ah, but surgeons and pilots actually know what they’re doing. “Keen judgment” and “legal skills” don’t come into it.