Connecting with People

By: Hannah Travis, Law Clerk and current law student at Capital University 

As someone who has golfed since I was six years old, I have always connected with people through the game. At my young age, I participated in the First Tee program. This program is built on nine core values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, and judgment—all characteristics I believe the attorneys at Dagger Law possess.

I learned so early in life how important networking and connecting with others is. I learned about good eye-contact, how to properly shake someone’s hand, and being engaged in conversations with others. I believe my people skills have helped me get to where I am today. Through golf, I met Partner Jeff Spangler, as well as others who work for the county in law and law enforcement. Through conversation and friendliness, these people asked about my life—where I was attending college, what my major was, what I wanted to do in life. Being from a small town and wanting to stay in the area long term sparked interest in these people and landed me a job at Dagger as a summer law clerk.

I think there is a certain prejudice that lawyers, doctors, and other professionals seem to have surrounding them. In my first year of law school, my Contracts II professor had the class complete a group activity. She first asked us to describe what people typically think of when they think of a lawyer. Several students raised their hands and gave answers such as crooks, rude, intimidating, and ingenuine. She then asked what we would want a lawyer we hired to be like, to which students answered: friendly, helpful, caring, and kind. We then discussed how most lawyers are actually described as the way we answered the second question.

I find it very important to form opinions of others for yourself, not by what others say about them. Lawyers are highly educated individuals, but they are still people. They like sports, they have families, they exercise, they go out with friends, etc. just like everyone else. Throughout the week, and even sometimes on the weekends, they talk in “legal-ese” because they are mostly surrounded by other attorneys and judges. When talking to attorneys, I have found that if you do not understand something, just ask! They get used to a certain way of communicating at work and sometimes just forget to “change gears.”

In the legal field, I have also observed that talking to a Partner of a firm seems to be more “intimidating” than talking to other attorneys. At Dagger, this is not the case. As a law clerk, I do a lot of work for Partner Jeff Spangler. He is extremely approachable and willing to answer any questions I have. He is thorough in explaining facts of a case to me or in what work I need to do. He treats everyone in the office with respect, and he gets his work done just like everyone else.

I have also had a chance to shadow Katie Cornelius-Blume, another attorney at Dagger. I observed a meeting she had with a younger client, and she was extremely thorough in explaining the client’s rights to them. Katie is understanding and caring with her clients and wants to make sure they understand what she is explaining to them.

In the end, people will always remember how you treat them and make them feel, so make your first impression to others one you want them to remember for the better. I believe the attorneys at Dagger truly care about their clients and put forth their best work each and every day.