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How Lawyers Can Avoid The Dark Side

By Mark Wilson, Esq. on May 04, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

For Star Wars Day (May the Fourth -- get it?), we're focusing on The Dark Side of the Force and how lawyers shouldn't be tempted by it. Sure, it comes with cooler costumes and Force Lightning, but at the end of the day, it's the good side that always wins. Or it should, anyway.

You might not think that in the moment, though. A young Anakin Skywalker thought that the Dark Side was a super-good deal, and look where it led him? Here are some Tales from the Dark Side (of the Force), just for lawyers.

There Are No Quick Fixes

Yoda cautions Luke Skywalker, "If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice." Luke wants to leave Dagobah to go rescue his friends in Cloud City -- but we all know It's a Trap!

Luke thinks in the short-term, but lawyers really need to think about long-term consequences. Sure, you can cut corners now to win your motion, but then you start cutting corners to win your case, and before you know it, you're focused on doing whatever it takes just to win and everyone feels the need to check your citations. Or, you're refusing to grant opposing counsel some professional courtesy all so you can win. Before you know it, you've been consumed by The Dark Side of the Law.

The Best Laid Plans ...

Another problem with The Dark Side is that they're way too self-assured. Emperor Palpatine doesn't have a Plan "B" in the event his schemes -- like capturing the rebels on Endor -- don't go according to plan. (He never thought they'd be able to turn off the shield generator.) The same goes for Grand Moff Tarkin in "A New Hope." He refuses to evacuate the Death Star "in our moment of triumph" -- minutes before the whole thing explodes.

In court, lawyers have to act like they've already won, lest they appear weak in front of a judge or jury. But there's still room for humility, and never assume that you're going to win an argument. Always have a Plan "B" just in case your motion to suppress gets denied.

Healthy Skepticism

Yeah, we're going to have to talk about the prequels now. (Don't worry; it will all be over soon.) Among the many problems with Anakin Skywalker is that he's far too trusting. Senator Palpatine's promises and responses are just way too convenient; Anakin should have known better.

Of course, it's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback about Palpatine -- hey, even Yoda didn't know he was pure evil -- but that doesn't relieve Anakin, like us lawyers, of the need to be skeptical. Anytime opposing counsel says something -- or even if it's a client saying something -- check it out. You might be surprised at what an opponent from The Dark Side will try to sneak in there.

Be vigilant, with others and with yourself. And may the ... you know.

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