THE MAGIC LAWYER When Law Meets Magic

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1 THE MAGIC LAWYER When Law Meets Magic By Robert Speer, The Magic Lawyer Copyright 2009 Robert H. Speer, Jr., The Magic Lawyer All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, without the prior written permission of the author.

2 INTRODUCTION "It s kind of fun to do the impossible." -- Walt Disney Just who and what is The Magic Lawyer 1? I m asked that question quite a bit. It is a persona, a brand, and a real person, all in one. It is what happened when law mixed with magic. It is what a perfect stranger remembers when they see my card in their wallet months after we met. It is the hope that my clients have that, no matter how bad their situation is, they know that their lawyer is doing his best magic for them in court. It represents a refreshing way to practice law - - a way that reminds the client that life can be fun, no matter what happened to them, or why they are in their current situation. It is also a really cool way to market Robert Speer, Attorney at Law. When I was about ten years old, my dad let me travel with him when he made his sales calls around the southeast. On our travels, we would always look forward to stopping at one of the Stuckey s gas stations along the road. Stuckey s gas stations are long gone, but my memory of them, and my dad, are not. In Stuckey s, you could always find a rack of tricks and pranks made by the S.S. Adams Company of Neptune, New Jersey. One bright sunny day, my dad and I pulled into our favorite Stuckey s to fill up. I spotted some cool magic tricks for sale on the S.S. Adams rack and my dad bought me two of them. He had a tough time getting past the gatekeeper at one of his big prospective accounts. He sold textiles to mattress manufacturers. One of the tricks that my dad had bought me was one where a dime goes completely through a solid sheet of rubber and clinks loudly into a glass. I managed to rig this effect up just prior to the time that my dad and I approached the vigilant gatekeeper in the lobby of the prospective new customer s building. Before she could give her usual canned patter about how the purchasing agent was not taking any more visitors, I 1 All references to The Magic Lawyer contained in this work will hereafter not have the trademark symbol immediately after the title, so as to keep from irritating the living #&*! out of the reader. However, all rights to the trademark for The Magic Lawyer are still reserved by Robert Speer, Jr. 1

3 went into the presentation of the trick - - showing her the solid sheet of rubber, wrapped around the opening of the glass, fastened with a tight rubber band, with the dime obviously on top. I then informed her about how I had magical powers that would cause physical objects to do weird things. The dime went through the sheet of rubber without harming it and the clicking of it in the glass might as well have been the Philharmonic Orchestra churning out a perfect tune. She let my dad go back to see the purchasing agent, with the proviso that his son stay with her --- and do some more magic. And so, at that young age, I learned the power of magic. At around the age of 16, after obtaining a car, and after learning what a female actually was, magic disappeared from my life for awhile. I would tinker with it from time to time, always remembering those days with my dad on the road. About eight years ago, the magic bug bit me hard, and magic stayed. It is a wonderful hobby that I weave into my practice as a lawyer -- when appropriate. My dad and I at one of his birthday parties before he passed away. I performed the Dirty Mind Deck trick for him and we laughed so hard that we cried. Little did he know what buying me a couple of magic tricks at 10 years old would do. Before I perform a major show, I thank him silently just before starting. 2

4 I not only studied magic, but the theory behind it, from master magicians. There are many similarities between law and magic; and between trial lawyers and magicians, which will be pointed out later. I am not a full-time magician by any means, and I don t charge for any shows that I do. For me, magic is a hobby that I enjoy and that helps me with my practice. Most of my clients like it, and it helps me be a better trial lawyer. As I m fond of saying: life is too short to be normal. 3

5 I. HOW THE MAGIC LAWYER EVOLVED -- A VERY BRIEF HISTORY If you take any activity, any art, any discipline, any skill, take it and push it as far as it has ever been pushed before, push it into the wildest edges, then you force it into the realm of real magic. -- Tom Robbins Sometime back in 2002, I left the Cobb County courthouse in Marietta, Georgia and drifted into Eddie s Trick Shop (the owner is a fellow magician and friend of mine) just off of the square. I had a habit of going by Eddie s when I had a minute, just to let magic know that I still had a childhood crush on her. On this occasion, I saw a trick that made me re-think how to hand out my business card. I had always been fascinated with the notion of performing magic with my business card when giving it out to people. Later, I decided to have custom playing cards printed with my card layout on the back. They weren t cheap. I planned to give out the decks as promotional gifts. The first version was just like my business card, except they were printed on the backs of playing cards whole decks of playing cards. While in court sometime later, someone in the audience asked me for one of my cards. I had run out of regular business cards, and, without thinking, pulled out a deck of my custom printed playing cards. It just seemed like second nature at that point, but I spread the cards out face up and asked the person to pick any card -- they re all winners. Astounded, he took out an ace and I told him to keep it. I ll never forget him turning the card over and saying: Wow. A magician and a lawyer wrapped up in one. Now that s cool! The Magic Lawyer was born that day and the concept grew from that point on. The size and design of my cards have changed quite a bit. The cards used to be poker size, but the ones that I hand out now are bridge size, so that they will 4

6 easily fit into most wallets. The cards are remarkable to the average person and people tend to keep them for a long time, which is a beautiful thing for a lawyer. Although I had used The Magic Lawyer concept and service mark in commerce for quite some time (with the SM designation next to it), I decided that The Magic Lawyer needed to be more protected and that it had taken on a life of its own. I contacted Rick Walker, a top-notch intellectual property attorney in Alpharetta, Georgia, to trademark The Magic Lawyer for me. Once he received a few of my Magic Lawyer cards in the mail a couple of days after our telephone conversation, the concept needed no further explanation. Rick handled my application in Washington, D.C. for me, and did a fine job. According to the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office, in 2006, it took about 18 months 2 to get a trademark officially granted. I applied for The Magic Lawyer trademark on March 1, 2006, using several of my cards as a sample with my application, showing that I actually used the mark in commerce. The trademark was granted on January 2, 2007, only 10 months later. I will always owe my attorney, and friend, Rick Walker many thanks for his fantastic efforts. He was always informative and made the process really smooth. 2 5

7 Some real magic was done by my lawyer, Rick Walker he got the The Magic Lawyer trademark granted to me, and in record time. 6

8 II. HOW MAGIC HELPS MY CLIENTS OUTSIDE OF THE COURTROOM Magic is good medicine. -- Jeff McBride, Master Magician The quote above from Jeff McBride just about sums up how magic helps my clients outside of the courtroom. Master magicians Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger hold Master Classes for Magicians in Las Vegas, and one of them is devoted to medical professionals. Jeff and Eugene offer a special seminar for physicians, nurses, holistic practitioners, and other professionals so that they might understand how to apply the powerful skills of performance magic to enhance the healing relationship. 3 There are actually a number of magicians who have started a program that facilitates the performance of magic in hospitals and nursing homes. The patients actually feel better after a bit of magic. I apply this concept to the practice of law and my clients. Patients in hospitals are not the only people who are hurting, and magic indeed is good medicine. A client will come into my office and, after I get to know them, I usually perform a few effects. This amazes the client and puts them at ease. However, one has to be very careful about when and where to perform magic --- to be sure and avoid looking foolish, or appearing to take the client s matter too lightly. Not everyone likes magic. Not every moment is the right moment for magic, either. This reminds me of an occasion when I approached a lady in a shopping mall. I began to do a quick card routine for her. She looked me square in the eye and said: Don t make me smack you. I hadn t realized it, but I had approached her right in the middle of the lingerie section of the store while my wife was shopping nearby. As the famous street magician, Gazzo, once said: The street audience will tell you what it wants you to be; all you have to do is listen. 3 As taken from Jeff and Eugene s website at: 7

9 Magic takes the client s mind off their troubles, even for a few minutes. Many of our clients tell us that they feel better after coming to our office. One of the signature effects that I perform for a new client (again, only if appropriate), is a card effect that is a variation of John Bannon s Degrees of Freedom. 4 The effect makes use of the client s ability to use the technique of creative visualization. While performing the effect, I remind the client that I need them to visualize success, not only during the effect, but also while their case is pending. I remind them that my job is much easier, as their lawyer, if I have them focusing on a positive result. Much to their astonishment, the trick has a fantastic ending. I then put the deck of cards back in the box, and give them to the new client as a gift. Some of our clients will drop by just to see some magic. If I m around, I m usually glad to accommodate them. I am blessed with a staff that cares about me and our clients, and that supports The Magic Lawyer theme. Our offices are very unique and uplifting. The atmosphere in our offices is colorful, positive, and a break from the usual stuffiness of a law office. Some of the ways that our offices are unique is that they are filled with magic paraphernalia, along with autographed pictures of David Blaine, Criss Angel, and Max Maven, just to name a few. Also, a giant King Tut stands in the corner of my office just behind the client s chair. We even have a slot machine in our lobby, to help the client pass the time if I m running a few minutes late. We give away candy for no reason at all, and have clients and friends who drop by just to have a piece of candy and say hello. 4 The name of the effect is ironic in itself, as I mainly do criminal defense work. John Bannon is a very fine attorney in Chicago and is a well respected magician, who has written a number of magic books and who has invented numerous magic effects. With my apologies to Mr. Bannon, I modified his Degrees of Freedom effect to produce four cards face up at the end of it which is precisely what he admonished against in his description of the effect. Not every spectator knows the ranks of the poker hands, so I modified the effect. 8

10 I was recently visited by some new friends that I met during lunch one day. The nice young lady and her mom dropped by to interview The Magic Lawyer for a school project and to see some magic, of course! 9

11 Our office is not your usual law office. Our lobby -- with plenty of chocolates and a slot machine. That s a real autographed David Blaine poster on the wall. Our Thank You card collection... we pride ourselves in making it grow. If I make even one client smile, then it has all been worth it. 10

12 III. HOW MAGIC HELPS MY CLIENTS INSIDE THE COURTROOM Magic is not tricks; it is a way. -- Tenkai Ishida, Japanese Magician Performing magic helps me be a better trial lawyer. I am not a full-time magician I do it as a hobby and for fun. Performing magic combines the stress of public speaking with the fear of screwing up a trick and looking like a complete idiot. Now, that s stress. When I do magic for people, it trains my performance muscles, which is most useful when called upon to address something my client didn t tell me about in the middle of a packed courtroom before a judge or jury. Performing magic forces me to overcome that fight or flight reflex that we all have deep in our brain. One gets better at magic by performing magic... and by performing it for real people. Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller fame) is quoted as saying that a good magician (or other performer) becomes good by logging flight time, just as a pilot does to obtain their license. Magic simply doesn t exist unless it is performed. Several years ago, I set out to study magic and magic theory from the masters. The masters of magic are, for the most part, located in one place: Las Vegas. And that s a good thing, because my wonderful wife, Julie, and I like Las Vegas. I took a Magician s Master Class from Eugene Burger and Jeff McBride in It was a hands-on three day class that was structured, yet informal. What I learned from Jeff and Eugene was not just magic, but how to perform magic. That is the key: the performance of magic. This magic concept is yet another concept that has made its way into the courtroom. Knowing the law is one thing, but the presentation of your client s case is yet another. I recently spent a day with Roberto Giobbi, a well-respected magician who can perform miracles with a deck of cards. As we were practicing some card techniques, he said: when performing magic, as with life in general, watch the angles. Roberto would make a fantastic lawyer as well! 11

13 Jeff McBride, me, Julie, and Eugene Burger. Magician s Master Class I spent three full days with two of the most fascinating magicians in the world. Julie and I attend the World Magic Seminar each year, and get to visit with such great magicians as Criss Angel, Johnny Thompson, and Max Maven (whose mentalism theories, ideas and concepts are strikingly eerie and useful in the area of thought control). Besides having fun, I get to learn from these great performers and watch some of the most fascinating magic on earth. Julie and I had the pleasure of watching Penn and Teller perform from front row seats. We were invited to go up on stage before the show, which was a lesson in stage performance itself. Although the audience couldn t see it from their perspective, the floor of the stage had color coded taped markings all over it --showing exactly where people and props were to be during the performance. Not one detail was left to chance during Penn and Teller s show. We got to meet Penn and Teller after the show, which was one of the best we ve ever seen. When people shook Penn s hand, I noticed that he said thanks, boss to each spectator. He let the people know that it was they who made the show a reality. What a humbling 12

14 lesson that we should all remember: without clients, spectators, or customers, we have no practice, show, or business. Me, Penn Jillette, and Julie at the Rio in Las Vegas, Teller and I at the Rio -- yes, that s his entire real name... he showed me his Nevada driver s license once. Offstage, he talks more than Penn. 13

15 The master magicians always preach: practice, practice, practice. And, as Eugene Burger admonishes: practice is not the same as rehearsal. This applies to being a trail lawyer as well. Dai Vernon (revered by all magicians as The Professor of magic) said it best: If you don t like to rehearse, change your profession. This truism applies to being a trial lawyer as well. When getting ready for a trial, or other serious legal presentation, I actually look into the eyes of pictures of people when I rehearse my opening statement, cross-examination questions, and closing argument. I learned this from my teacher and friend, master magician, Jeff McBride, who taught me to do this when rehearsing for magic shows. In addition to the performance experience of magic, many of the theories of magic are applicable to the courtroom as well. Trial lawyers are all painfully aware that the courtroom is much like a stage, maybe a bit watered down, but a stage nonetheless. The judge and jurors are the spectators, and the trial lawyers are putting on a performance. One of my self-imposed rules is to refrain from doing magic (tricks) in the courtroom. My reason for this is two-fold. First, magic (tricks) in the courtroom can be interpreted as flippant or just plain inappropriate. Second, the risk of flubbing a trick in court can have horrendous impact on the image of The Magic Lawyer. Remember, The Magic Lawyer is not a full-time magician -- he is a full-time lawyer. 14

16 My beautiful wife, Julie, and I with Criss Angel. His magic is so advanced that I m convinced that he can see around corners. Las Vegas, One of the most useful theories of magic that is commonly used by trial lawyers involves the concept of misdirection. Lawyers use it almost daily in the courtroom probably without knowing it. The defense attorney who elicits on crossexamination of the arresting officer in a DUI case that he failed to follow proper procedures as set out in his field sobriety testing manual is a subtle use of misdirection. The lawyer in this situation is having the jury direct their attention to one thing, the officer s failure to follow procedure, while ignoring another... perhaps her client s blood alcohol test that s double the legal limit. In an injury case, a lawyer might sway the jury by showing photos depicting horrible injuries that the jury just can t ignore, in spite of the fact that the little girl who was injured by a driver played in the street all the time, and was constantly warned by her mother to stay out of the street. Any time we, as lawyers, seek to have the judge or jury think a certain way, we are using misdirection. The human mind is strange. As a magician, I usually don t want you to think at all. As a lawyer, I want you to think a certain way. Eugene Burger said it best: Thinking kills magic. So true. After racking my brain for a long time about what misdirection actually is, I arrived at two 15

17 words that describe it: unconscious distraction. And, as lawyers, we use unconscious distraction in court all the time. The lawyer can be heard to say: Your honor, my client is a good person, who is an upstanding member of his church, who is a member of the local Kiwanis Club, and holds down two jobs to pay child support for four kids, and he pays it timely every month... which might take the judge s mind off of the fact that this is the client s second marijuana possession offense. Magician and mentalist Kenton Knepper has applied the theory of NueroLinguistic Programming to magic and verbal communication with the spectator. His work Wonder Words is an entire set of CD s and a workbook devoted primarily to verbal misdirection, or as Kenton sometimes calls it indirection. Just one small example from Kenton s work is the use of the word but. The word but often negates anything said in front of it. Let s apply this to law for just a minute. The lawyer tells the judge in sentencing: my client is a good person, but he made a mistake. The lawyer just subliminally suggested to the judge that his client is not a good person. Try using the word and instead of but. Now this sounds better: my client is a good person, and he made a mistake. It s little nuances like this that I have learned from magic that help me in the courtroom. Quite a number of major celebrities got their start as magicians. Harry Anderson (of Night Court fame), Steve Martin, and Johnny Carson, are just a few examples of celebrities who started in magic before moving on to Stardom. Harry Anderson is one of the only celebrities who still performs magic, and is still quite active in the magic community. He recently shared a fascinating bit of backstage information with me about a show that I saw him do in Las Vegas in The lengthy show went flawlessly, with Harry, who was the focus of the entire show, on stage the entire time. He recently mentioned to me that he was not as prepared as he wanted to be, and that he had to ad-lib some of the act. I was stunned. If Harry Anderson was under pressure that night, the audience sure didn t know it. Harry kept his cool so well under pressure that it was amazing. That s one of the secrets of being a good performer if things go wrong, never let the spectators know it. 16

18 ( Night Court photo found in the public domain) Harry Anderson and I at the Southeastern Association of Magicians Convention, Harry is a great guy, and he never turned his back on magic even after he became famous from his role as Judge Harry Stone in Night Court. I love this quote from Harry taken from the preface of a magic book about him: I believe in magic. I believe in it as an art. I believe in it as an entertainment. I believe in it as the salvation of a kid growing up in the fifties with a lot of confusion around him and plenty of trouble ahead. Magic has never let me down. Magic has never caused me pain. It has lifted me, renewed me, and brought me hope in myself and my world. For any unnatural fixation on geeks and mentalists and escape artists 17

19 and fools of the bizarre, I have been rewarded in ways I cannot measure. With every turn in my life I have believed in magic. 5 I am a member of The Georgia Magic Club, and served as its vice president for two years. In one of those years, the president of our club was fellow magician Andy Pascual, who is now an assistant district attorney. Tim Wolfe, a fellow magician and member of the club, is a part-time judge. I have befriended some of the most positive and uplifting people in the Georgia Magic Club. Each month, the club has a meeting and the magic performed during these meetings is always spellbinding and fun. I ve learned a lot from being a member. (Photo courtesy of Evan Reynolds. Used with permission) One of my favorite fans, Xander Reynolds, son of my friends Evan and Karen Reynolds, wearing his top hat and a Magic Lawyer shirt. Will he be the next magic lawyer? 5 Caveney, M. (1993). Harry Anderson: Wise Guy, from the street to the screen. Pasadena, CA: Mike Caveney s Magic Words, page

20 The club sponsors magic lectures, and invites numerous full-time professional magicians to Atlanta to speak about how they perform magic. These lectures are a great opportunity to enrich your knowledge and to actually see how the master magicians think. So many of the local full-time professional magicians have been enlightening as well. Arthur Atsma, Dan Garrett, Debbie Liefer, Ken Scott, and Joe M. Turner, just to name a few local magicians, are always informative and helpful. Magicians and lawyers are a lot alike. Magicians take an oath not to reveal their secrets, and lawyers take an oath to protect and defend their clients, etc. Magicians live by a code of professionalism and so do lawyers. Magicians are showmen on the stage, just as trial lawyers are in the courtroom. Magicians and lawyers are both members of a professional fraternity and they help each other. Me doing a card effect before an audience of about 25 magicians for my good friend and fellow magician Evan Reynolds. Evan occasionally drops by our office to visit, and we enjoy it when he does. 19

21 In October of 2009, I attended my third Magic and Meaning Conference, which is a conference for performing magicians that focuses on storytelling and the performance of magic. I was invited to perform for the group and did an effect for Dr. Robert Neale, who is a great magician and author of several advanced magic books. It was his birthday, and I ended the effect by giving him a small gift. Master Magician Jeff McBride, my teacher and mentor, commented afterwards in his critique of my performance that I actually fooled him. This was one of my greatest moments in magic. Me performing an effect for Dr. Robert Neale at the Magic & Meaning Conference in October of I actually fooled my own magic teacher and mentor, Master Magician Jeff McBride. There were about 30 fellow magicians in the audience. 20

22 Master Magician Jeff McBride critiques his magic students and colleagues to help them constantly improve their performing skills. These valuable critiques are called Works in Progress. This one from Jeff shows that I actually fooled him. 21

23 IV. HOW MAGIC HELPS ME PROMOTE MYSELF Make them think they have been fooled by a gentleman. -- Howard Thurston, Master Magician I would be lying to say that the use of magic to promote my practice is not on my mind on a regular basis. Yes, the cards, shirts, and custom pens are all my form of advertising -- and so is The Magic Lawyer trademark itself. I try to have fun and hand out cards and pens on a regular basis. It never fails to get a reaction when I m asked for one of my cards, and I flip out a queen for a nice lady, or a king for a gentleman. They remember The Magic Lawyer. My custom Magic Lawyer pens write well and everyone who has had one always wants another one. And we give them another one, and another one... prosecutors like them as well, maybe because they write perfectly on the back of traffic tickets. We routinely give out Magic Lawyer t-shirts and sweatshirts at our office. It s a nice touch and it s different. People like it. The Magic Lawyer recently performed magic at Starbucks in Canton, Georgia for most of a Saturday as a charitable gesture to help bring in people to donate money to Cuffed For a Cause, which helped raise money for the Georgia Special Olympics. My team and I enjoyed donating our time to this great cause. I consider this to be The Magic Lawyer s finest hour. One of the main objectives of The Magic Lawyer is to perform magic for fun and for charitable causes. This is consistent with Jeff McBride s theory that magic is good medicine. I like to make people smile when I can. Jay Marshall, a famous fun-loving magician, once said: if I had my way, I d bring sunshine every day. What a fantastic attitude! Just about every time Jay did a trick or said something, he made people laugh and forget about their troubles. He had a great gift! 22

24 The Magic Lawyer with Corporal Stacy Bailey of the Canton, Georgia Police Department. She was handcuffed to a treadmill most of the day to raise money for the Georgia Special Olympics. Magic helped me bring people into Starbucks to donate money to the Georgia Special Olympics. Magic also helps make people smile --- a wonderful thing. 23

25 The Magic Lawyer concept has become an unexpected groundswell that is enjoyable and fun --- for me, my staff, and my clients. The idea just took off, and I m glad that it did. I ll never forget a voic message that we got one Monday morning: This is the Queen of Spades calling. I got arrested this weekend and need The Magic Lawyer s help bad. Please call me back at... Me on stage at Fernbank Elementary in Atlanta, circa Kid: I want to be a magician when I grow up. Jay Marshall: You ll have to decide. You can t do both. 24

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