I Dare You!
Imagine sitting in law school and being handed a note calling you to the Dean’s office. You are in the first semester, and every class is a head banger. Now I am being sent to the principal’s office. Not.
Dean Reppy: Don’t sit down. Son, have you considered joining the wonderful world of plumbing?
Me: Is that a rhetorical question Dean Reppy? I want to be a lawyer.
Dean: You must not be happy here because your instructors have you on their must-watch-list. You are consistently behind in handing in your class assignments. Son, you have reached critical mass leading to a chain reaction.
Me: Twenty-five cases to read and brief daily does present a challenge.
Dean: You have 8 weeks to change my mind. Remember, plumbing is an ancient and honorable profession. The Roman Empire…
Me: I will work harder Dean – I’ll try anything. My parents…
Dean: This not high school you must solve this dilemma. But wait there may be something. I have scribbled down the telephone of the most reputable speed reading workshop in the city (handing it to me). You may consider its high cost a part of your Bar Review preparation.
Me: Speed reading – exacting what I was thinking – Sir, as my head throbbed and my vision blurred.
Dean: If you receive a miniature monkey wrench in the mail - sonny… Now get the hell out of my office I have an important presentation for our Trustees.
Do you believe in personal miracles? Not me or I would have attended a seminary. I located and enrolled at the Dean’s speed reading course. It ate one-hour daily in addition to briefing my 25 cases. Never saw daylight or my fiancée for 60 days. I had nightly sweat-drenching dreams of opening his package and lifting-out the money wrench.
After 4 weeks no miracle occurred, but now I was feeling strangely confident.
Four more weeks and I sat for my course finals and slam-dunked all five. I decided maybe I was a late-bloomer. Started reading a nightly page from my mother’s Gideon Bible. Couldn’t hurt.
A few years later I sat for the New York bar. Aced it on the first crack. Dean Reppy never mailed me a monkey wrench. I am still in the habit of speed reading all my legal texts.
Never told this cautionary tale to my kids. My wife knew cause we were engaged at the time. She says it built my character and sense of empathy for difficult clients.
Caveat and farewell: if you ever find yourself in serious difficulty in New York and require a remarkable lawyer who reads-and-remembers 3x the cases of his 34,000 peers…seek out my firm’s full-page ad in the Yellow. See ya.
copyright © 2006 H. Bernard Wechsler
Author of Speed Reading For Professionals published by Barron's; partner of Evelyn Wood, creator of speed reading graduating 2 million, including the White House staffs of four U. S. Presidents.
Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine for major articles.