The Tortoise, the Hare, and Different Speeds of Mental Function

The other day I had a chat with a BigLaw senior associate. He operates at a very high clock rate: he rattled off various doctrinal propositions that were foreign to me, and he suggested analogies to this, that, and the other. It was all rather over my head.

But I’m fine with that, because I’ve long recognized that people’s minds can operate at different speeds, with differing perspectives.

To cite an example that I’m intimately familiar with, doing deals calls for a sprint: it requires that you quickly grasp and respond to a stready stream (or flood) of information. The potential for screw-ups is your constant companion, and expediency is the order of the day.

Early in my law-firm years, I realized that I strip my gears when required to work like that. I prefer mulling things over. I’ll analyze an issue, then analyze it again, and perhaps a third or fourth time. Yes, it’s all rather leisurely, but you don’t get to where I go by sprinting. My mills grind slow, but I like to think that they grind exceedingly small.

In the story, the tortoise beats the hare. Obviously, I’m not suggesting that I would beat a hare. Instead, I think that we’re running different races.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

1 thought on “The Tortoise, the Hare, and Different Speeds of Mental Function”

  1. Nietzsche supposedly said something like ‘There’s no substitute for the slow reader.’

    I haven’t been able to find a reliable source for the alleged quotation, which was doubtless originally in German.

    Even if I could, it’s small solace to draw one’s self-esteem from anything Nietzsche said.

    ‘You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound.’
    ― P.G. Wodehouse, Carry on, Jeeves


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