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3 Lessons Lawyers Can Learn From Alan Alda

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Life lessons for lawyers don't usually come from actors, unless we're talking about Bob Odenkirk, Dylan McDermott, or Raymond Burr, and their corresponding, and critical, roles in shaping how we view the practice of law.

However, a recent installment in Reuters' "Life Lessons" series interviewed Mr. Alan Alda, which made us here at FindLaw think, first nostalgically about Hawkeye, then about what we lawyers could learn from Mr. Alda. (Disclosure: Reuters is FindLaw's sister company.)

Below you can read three life lessons from Mr. Alda that are great for lawyers.

Be a Great Communicator

For Alda, communication is incredibly important. When he started the PBS show "Scientific American Frontiers," which was a show devoted to interviewing scientists, he learned just how important being a good communicator really is, because scientists are really bad at communicating. He explained that it's not just enough to be a subject matter expert. Yes you have to be one, but there's more to it:

"I think being personal is very important. Telling stories is important. Being authentic and who you are, vulnerable and acknowledging not having all the answers."

And while we lawyers might pride ourselves on the prowess of our written words and masterfully constructed and phrased arguments, in the end, if we can't communicate clearly to clients or a jury, or to coworkers and those around us in our personal life, then we need to work on learning to communicate.


Connections are important. And to hear Alan Alda talk about it (even in his MASH days), you might come to realize that connecting with others is everything. Whether it is personal or business, it's not just who you know, it's how you know. We all have acquaintances whom we wouldn't lift a finger for, or have barely talked to. However, nurturing your connections with people is just generally good for you.

Not only does developing meaningful, strong, personal (yet professional) relationships in business help you build your business, it helps you feel connected, have purpose, and avoid loneliness (which is actually a serious problem for lawyers).


As Alda told Reuters, "improvising is life changing, because it makes you a different person, a better person. It puts you in touch with your creativity, and you begin to trust yourself more, and censor yourself less. Most importantly, you have to listen to the other person -- it's not just about you."

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