My grandfather, William Richman, was a lawyer in New York City. His certificate of admission to the New York Bar in 1930 hangs in my office. He had a small office and spent most of his career as a general practitioner, taking on whatever jobs came his way. It didn’t make him rich, but he was able to provide for his family. I never got to know him well. He died suddenly when I was ten years old from a massive heart attack. I never got to ask him about his career as a lawyer, his service as an Air Force officer during World War II, or really anything of substance.
One fond memory I have of my grandfather is a saying he would repeat every time we sat down to eat a meal: “Eat slowly. Chew your food.” He said it so many times it became a joke for us. My sister and I would repeat it back and forth to each other: “Eat slowly. Chew your food.” Even now, when I speak to my wife about my grandfather, she knows that one of the first things I’ll say is “Eat slowly. Chew your food.” Now I say it to my son, although not at every meal.
As a child, I never really thought about why my grandfather gave us this advice, which seemed so wise and mysterious. But as an adult and a parent, I think about it all the time. Sitting down with your meal is a great opportunity to take a break from the busyness of the day. By having a ritual, whether saying some kind of blessing or even saying, “Eat slowly. Chew your food,” the mealtime is somehow separated from the rest of your day. It becomes a special time dedicated to eating a meal and connecting as a family. Also, the act of eating slowly and chewing your food is simply a healthy choice. When you eat slowly, your body can register that you’ve eaten and will feel full before you finish, resulting in less overeating. When you chew your food, you prevent choking and give your body an opportunity to digest it fully, and you receive the maximum nutritional benefit from what you are eating.
Likewise, although pretrial preparation can seem excruciatingly slow, it is important that you and your lawyer eat slowly and chew your food in preparing your case. By “eating slowly,” your lawyer applies a process to preparing your case. Instead of randomly discovering facts and chasing witnesses, your lawyer pauses to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your claim, develop strategies and legal arguments, and determine what evidence he needs to support those arguments. It is a pause to separate the planning and preparation of your claim from the busyness of a typical law practice. By “chewing your food,” your lawyer takes each task one at a time and sticks with it until it is completely and thoroughly done in exactly the best way to support your claim. Whether it is interviewing a witness, preparing a legal brief in support of a pretrial motion, or anticipating the instructions a judge will give to the jury in your case, it is essential that your lawyer “eat slowly and chew his food.” Not only will this slow preparation maximize your chances of getting a full recovery for your injuries, but it will also minimize the risk of choking-in this case, dropping the ball or missing a key piece of evidence or legal argument.
As a lawyer, I understand your frustration with waiting for months to have your day in court, but I assure you that time is not wasted. If you have the right lawyer, you can use this delay to your advantage.