“You’ve got the facts in each paragraph but nothing is tying them together,” said my boss. “You are missing the connections.”
My first lesson in legal writing came fast after law school. The assignment was to write a report for the Federal Communications Commission. I learned the value of connecting words and phrases that make your writing flow and carry the readers along so they are nodding their heads in agreement by the end.
It was about that time that I read The Magus by John Fowles, in which the protagonist discovers that he has been looking at life as a series of events, like mountaintops. But his girlfriend sees the relationships between the events. She sees not only the mountaintops, but the valleys that connect them.
Facts are powerful mountaintops. We all like to think we weigh the facts and make rational decisions. But relationships between the facts may be even more powerful. Our decisions may be based on subconscious connections that we are unaware of.
One of the things I like about our law firm is that we have people who see the mountaintops and people who see the valleys between. That is some of our lawyers see the facts clearly and others see the relationships.
We joke about it and say we have a Partner in Charge of Feelings. But when you are dealing with emotionally charged issues like divorce, children, betrayal, and money, feelings can be the driving force. So by all means, get the facts. But don’t forget the connections.