Friday, January 31, 2014

Downton Abbey Taught Me to Be a Better Lawyer

If you asked me what shows I enjoy watching,  I would probably tell you I only watch ESPN and the news. Truth be told, my wife and I have been smitten with the trials and tribulations of the inhabitants of Downton Abbey. The well written period drama is set in the country estate of the fictional Crawley family during Britain's post-Edwardian era. As a fan of history, I enjoy seeing how the day's events and technological advancements played into the daily lives of people. From Spanish influenza and the sinking of the Titanic to World War and the Teapot scandal, viewers watch as history intervenes in the daily lives of the residents of Downton Abbey.

After watching several seasons, I noticed the show was starting to influence me.  Our New Britain, Connecticut office had a Victorian feel to it.  The waiting room has antique furniture from the era, paintings, sculptures, a phonograph, typewriters and even a mimeograph machine. I started wearing a monocle and announced my wife's arrival any time she entered the room. I began wearing fancy white gloves to the theatre. (Well technically they were gardening gloves and by theatre I meant catching the latest installment of the Hangover at the local Cineplex) I started butling around the house. The show's influence began seeping into my work at the law office.  It wasn't a bad thing.  Despite Matthew Crawley being a horrible barrister and poor estate planner, Downton Abbey did indeed make me a better lawyer.  And as any proper gentleman would do, I now share this information with my readers.

I now present a few tips I picked up from the lords and ladies at Downton Abbey.

(1) Embrace Modern Technology:

As the series progresses, we see how the old ways and traditions of English high society begin conflicting with modern times. The lord of the manor soon learns that he must adopt modern farming techniques in order to save his estate from financial ruin. The kitchen staff begins using modern appliances in order to become more efficient. The change is too much to bare for the Countess Violet who proclaims “First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feel as if I’m living in an H.G. Wells novel.” Even societal norms begin to change with glimmers of woman's suffrage, racial equality and the bending of class lines.  

As with Downton, one should be willing to embrace the offerings of modern technology. When I first started at my firm, most of the computers were being used as paper weights and a convenient place to place post it notes. Until 1995, the firm's founder was renting rotary phones from the phone company.  (You read that right.)  The typewriter remained the weapon of choice for preparing motions, wills and briefs. God forbid you made a typographical error. 

While I am sure your office stands in a much better state, you may want to ask yourself "is there room for improvement?"  Well?  Ask yourself.   In addition to upgrading our computers, our attorneys now carry i Pads to court. The smart phone has become as important a tool as that extra fork they give you in a fancy restaurant.  (I can only assume it's in case you drop your first one). We have also switched over to a cloud based law office management program called Clio. With my trusty smart phone I can scan police reports, take photos of accident scenes, review statutes, check my daily calendar or peruse the court's daily docket, find directions and estimate my arrival to my next appointment and a slew of other helpful tasks. I can even take a credit card payment or watch "12 Angry Men." Our firm's scanners help us sort through hundreds of pages and have helped un-clutter the office. I can locate a file's location through our law practice management software. I can access documents and client information by scanning a QR code printed on each file. In general, by using technology we have become more competitive with firms that boast larger staff sizes. The time saved has given me the opportunity to get more work done and increase our bottom line.

(2) Whilst Maintaining Tradition:

While I do suggest embracing modern technology, it doesn't mean you should completely ignore time honored traditions. On Downton Abbey, the Crawleys do their best to continue in age old traditions while the world around them changes. Old customs can bring order and stability during times of chaos. The family's butler Carson thrives in the old traditions. When asked why he devoted his life to being a butler, he would undoubtedly refer to it as a calling.

Here is where I compare the life of a butler to the life of a lawyer. Like Carson, those who pursue a life in the service of law are subject to a calling. We stand before robe clad judges asking if it may please the court. We appear before the bench in our Sunday best and are expected to follow proper decorum. A well worn suit can project stature and competence. First impressions happen only once. You should always put your best footman forward. 

(3) Consider Updating Your Calling Card.

When someone paid a visit to the Downton estate, they would present the butler with a calling card. The Lord or lady of the house would then have the opportunity to determine whether they wanted to meet with you as you waited in the parlor. A successful visit to such an estate could help propel you higher in society. Why not make your first impression a nice one?

Over the years, I have collected a shoebox full of business cards. (I am always reminded of that scene in American Psycho where a bunch of stockbrokers compare and contrast the quality of their cards.) Most cards are the standard variety and are professional looking. Others come across bland. When I see a nice business card, I generally make my first impression about the attorney handing it to me. Does it have his or her photo on it? Is it homemade with frayed paper clinging to the edges for dear life? Does he have a nickname in quotes? Is their information crossed out or added in pen? Of course, business cards can be expensive. For a small practitioner, raised ink and linen paper is not your main concern when you have to pay for office supplies, utilities and of course, your butler.  Vistaprint offers raised ink business cards and affordable low minimum orders. offers a variety of different shapes and styles of business cards created by professional designers.  They are also affordable.  Of course, we also recommend local businesses.  Check out your local printer.  I am sure they can offer their expertise to design something unique and professional for you.      

(4) Network More

In the world of Downton Abbey, rubbing elbows with the right people can mean success. Knowing the head maid or a well placed footman at the estate could land you a job. Being in the good graces of the royal family could mean titles or prestigious commissions in the military. It pays to be pleasant to those around you. You never know when that lowly chauffer could catch the eye of the lady of the house and become a gentleman.

With that in mind, I encourage you to attend events offered by bar and local organizations. These events can be a great place to establish professional relationships that can lead to future referrals. Depending on your practice, it may behoove you to network any chance you get. Instead of using the drive thru, I tend to go inside the bank to chat up the tellers. I rotate where I get my haircut and chat up the barber. I go to confession once a week and time how long people spend in the confession booth. I give my business card to those who take a long time. It is a great resource for potential divorces and criminal clients. (Of course, I jest. I do not actually leave my business cards in confession booths. I wait for these sinners in the parking lot.)

(5) Don't Be a Pompous Ass

Just because you're the under butler to the lord of the manor, doesn't mean you should put on airs. You never know when that lowly chauffer could catch the eye of the lady of the house and become the next Lord Crawley. I am sure you are aware of a few attorneys who are a bit aloof. Perhaps you know attorneys who feels their law school sheepskin entitles them to be rude to those around them. I have seen attorneys bark at clerks, court marshals and other staffers. Not only are you being an ass, it can really hurt you in the end. Court staffers often have the ears of prosecutors and judges. You really don't want to be labeled a pompous ass. Other attorneys are less likely to refer you clients. Your files might be found on the bottom of a pile on a scorned clerk's desk. A court marshal may ask you to remove your belt, shoes and pants as you desperately try to get to court on time.

Finally, try to conduct yourself with a bit of civility and class. That means no 'cussin. As the Countess Violet noted "vulgarity is no substitute for wit."

(Editor's Note:  The Nutmeg Lawyer has moved to  Unfortunately, we have discovered that does not currently offer RSS feeds.  As such, we will continue posting on this page until the problem is resolved.  Feel free to check out our sister site at  )


Issac said...

Wonderful! I liked the post.

Unknown said...

I do honestly have to say that tv shows are the main thing that has piqued my interest in the legal system. Downton, Law & Order, CSI, NCIS. It typically doesn't matter, I love them all.


EmilyJacob said...

Best approach, i think this is one of the best platform for every one.We are providing a online legal services like Family Based Immigration USA, Green Card Petition for Spouse, Finance Visa Requirements, K1 Fiance Visa Attorney, US Citizenship Marriage, e-2 Treaty Investor etc.Thanks for sharing this information.

Unknown said...

We can all learn from these ideas on how to be a better lawyer! What would you say are the five most important qualities of a good lawyer? I'm scheduling an appointment with a lawyer to see what my options are on my case.
Celine |

Unknown said...

It is good to see that some shows these days are still helping people learn and grow. Not all the shows today are just horrible drama shows. Thanks for the post!

Alena |

Unknown said...

I love that you used a TV show to explain aspects of law. Would you say that modern TV shows portray accurate representations of lawyers?

Lily |

Sophia Henry said...

I like your spirit to learn by a TV serial to become a lawyer. Many of the people had unable to get the positive things from the TV serials or movies.
Good Post!

Unknown said...

I would be more prone to hire a lawyer who could admit to his love for one of my favorite shows. It is nice to hear of a softer side to lawyers. This could very well start something wonderful.
Cynthia |

Unknown said...

Quickly this site will indisputably be famous among all blogging people, because of its fastidious articles or reviews.Watch it

Angel Rio said...

Truly awesome blog! I desire the same top-quality blog post from you in the forthcoming also. Joseph Tacopina

Rajendra Law Office said...

Advocates in Chennai for Civil cases, Criminal litigation and all type of law consultancy services. : Visit :

John Adam said...

how much do lawyers charge to handle a traffic case?
road traffic lawyers scotland

Lisa Jones said...

I would be more inclined to employ a legal advisor who could admit to his affection for one of my most loved appears. It is decent to know about a milder side to legal advisors. This could exceptionally well begin something magnificent. Bothell Lawyers

oakleyses said...

jordan shoes, christian louboutin, uggs outlet, michael kors outlet online, uggs on sale, louis vuitton outlet, louis vuitton outlet, louis vuitton, ray ban sunglasses, replica watches, christian louboutin uk, chanel handbags, michael kors outlet online, uggs outlet, longchamp outlet, nike air max, michael kors outlet, burberry handbags, tiffany and co, polo outlet, nike free, nike air max, ugg boots, oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet online, oakley sunglasses, christian louboutin outlet, longchamp outlet, prada handbags, gucci handbags, prada outlet, oakley sunglasses wholesale, michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses, kate spade outlet, christian louboutin shoes, louis vuitton outlet, tory burch outlet, ugg boots, michael kors outlet online, burberry outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton, ray ban sunglasses, nike outlet, longchamp outlet

oakleyses said...

sac vanessa bruno, new balance, vans pas cher, ray ban uk, nike blazer pas cher, true religion outlet, michael kors outlet, true religion outlet, replica handbags, polo lacoste, oakley pas cher, coach purses, hollister uk, abercrombie and fitch uk, nike free uk, north face uk, louboutin pas cher, polo ralph lauren, hollister pas cher, nike air max uk, michael kors pas cher, nike air max, true religion jeans, timberland pas cher, nike air max uk, coach outlet, air max, michael kors, jordan pas cher, sac hermes, north face, lululemon canada, coach outlet store online, nike roshe, sac longchamp pas cher, nike air force, mulberry uk, hogan outlet, ralph lauren uk, longchamp pas cher, michael kors, converse pas cher, burberry pas cher, nike roshe run uk, true religion outlet, kate spade, nike free run, nike tn, ray ban pas cher, guess pas cher

oakleyses said...

asics running shoes, babyliss, soccer jerseys, hermes belt, reebok outlet, ipad cases, oakley, iphone cases, soccer shoes, iphone 5s cases, nfl jerseys, north face outlet, abercrombie and fitch, ghd hair, vans outlet, iphone 6 cases, hollister, nike roshe run, wedding dresses, mac cosmetics, lululemon, new balance shoes, jimmy choo outlet, instyler, giuseppe zanotti outlet, p90x workout, s6 case, chi flat iron, iphone 6s cases, longchamp uk, baseball bats, mcm handbags, iphone 6 plus cases, bottega veneta, ferragamo shoes, timberland boots, mont blanc pens, insanity workout, nike air max, nike trainers uk, herve leger, nike huaraches, celine handbags, north face outlet, beats by dre, iphone 6s plus cases, valentino shoes, ralph lauren, hollister clothing, louboutin

oakleyses said...

moncler uk, louis vuitton, thomas sabo, wedding dresses, barbour, moncler, gucci, montre pas cher, supra shoes, hollister, barbour uk, nike air max, karen millen uk, pandora uk, moncler, canada goose uk, coach outlet, ugg, juicy couture outlet, swarovski, canada goose, louis vuitton, moncler outlet, louis vuitton, hollister, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, canada goose outlet, replica watches, pandora jewelry, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, moncler, canada goose outlet, ugg pas cher, louis vuitton, juicy couture outlet, swarovski crystal, louis vuitton, canada goose, pandora charms, canada goose outlet, links of london, marc jacobs, lancel, converse, converse outlet, toms shoes, doudoune moncler, moncler, pandora jewelry, canada goose jackets, vans, canada goose

Jr. Williams said...

why does winning a case depend on a good lawyer?
Peonia Guimaraes Machado Martins

John Adam said...

This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.
Lawyer Ga Criminal Attorney

Unknown said...

Hello nice note thanks for your post..The Tucson bankruptcy lawyers of J.R. Standring have been helping individuals and businesses file for bankruptcy relief since 2009.
bankruptcy lawyer tucson

aliyaa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lombino Law Studio said...

After reading this post I found this post is very informative and useful. Thanks for sharing this blog.
Business Lawyer in Las Vegas are required by businesses because of the complex legal environment prevailing today, they have to deal

with contracts, corporate governance, intellectual property, and other intricate business laws. Get appoint with our business lawyer.

yanmaneee said...

bape hoodie
hermes birkin
lebron james shoes
yeezy 350
supreme clothing
golden goose sale
curry 5
stephen curry shoes
kevin durant shoes
golden goose shoes

Muntazir mehdi said...

The lawyer world loved the way you write.....

dipanshu sharma said...

Good Post! Thank you so much for sharing this pretty post, it was so good to read and useful to improve my knowledge as updated one, keep blogging.
Bicycle Accident Lawyer Canada

Unknown said...

Recommended Site have a peek at this web-site see this here navigate to these guys replica ysl handbags

ESLAM UWK said...

شركة مصر للمصاعد من اكبر شركات مصاعد في القاهرة شركة مصر للمصاعد هي شركة مصرية تعمل في مجال المصاعد الكهربائية في السوق المصري منذ أكثر من 10 سنوات. نحن نقدم لعملائنا أفضل خدمة في هذا المجال. نحن نقدم أعلى وسائل الأمن والطاقة والأمن للعملاء العصريين والمعاصرين. حيوية.

CLADING2222 said...

بعد تجربتي مع شركة مكافحة الحشرات المركز الالماني لا يمكنني ان اثق في اي شركة اخري فبعد تعاملي معها لم تظهر حشرة واحدة في المنزل لذلك انصح بها اي شخص يعاني من الحشرات في منزله

CLADING2222 said...

اكبر مشكلة قد تواجه العملاء اثناء نقل العفش هي ضيق السلم فهي بالفعل مشكلة كبيره وبسببها لم يستطيع العمالة تنزيل وتطليع الأثاث كبيره الحجم لذلك تحرص شركة انجزني افضل شركة ونش رفع اثاث  في مصر علي وجود اوناش رفع تصل الي الادوار العالية تقوم بانزال ورفع العفش دون الحاجة الي انزاله من السلم

CLADING2222 said...

يصاب الأشخاص بـانسداد الشرايين في الساق بسبب ضيق الشرايين الناتج عن التدخين او ارتفاع ضغط الدم او التقدم في العمر ويعتبر الدكتور محمود ناصر من افضل الاطباء المتخصصين في علاج انسداد شرايين الساق علي مستوي جمهورية مصر العربية.