No one was more flabbergasted than I was not to see a single Oscar nomination for the brilliant British film MADE IN DAGENHAM. I know it is still in some theaters and it certainly is on the menu of the hotel room I am in so I know that you have access to this wonderful film with great insight for attorneys.
I want to point you to the amazing performance of Sally Hawkins as Rita O’Grady. Her characterization reminds me of a number of lawyers who are shy, but who get up and plead in court for others anyway. It is a wonderful example of an “accidental” advocate who never in her life expected to stand up in front of others and speak at all – let alone give speeches that stir others to action. Watch how the brilliant Hawkins – before every speech – has a moment of fear, but then inhales, exhales, puts her trust in someone or something (God? The people in front of her? The importance of the cause of equal pay for equal work for women workers?) and speaks from her heart.
When I saw this moving portrayal I thought of all the attorneys I have known over the years who are like Grady as Hawkins gives her to us. Scared to death, shy, terrified that they are going to screw up a case when so much is on the line for their clients. Some shut down and get rigid. Others put on a big fake persona. Still others shrink to a cipher. It is so hard for some people to stand up and speak. BUT – the reward of leaning into the people who need your message, the giving up of ego and “going for it”, the willingness to simply be your imperfect self in front of others – this is the best lawyer in the room. And by the way – more jurors will like this person than the slick “hale fellow well met” attorney on the other side.
I encourage you to watch this film – and to take strength and comfort in the wonderful performance of Sally Hawkins.