After a CLE a few months ago, I sat in a bar sipping bourbon and listening to my friend, Jim Dedman, explain his plans for doing a blog series commemorating the 20th anniversary of one of the all time great lawyer movies, My Cousin Vinny.
Jim asked me if I would write something about the movie to take part in the anniversary. I love movies in general and lawyer movies in particular, so I readily agreed. It gave me an excuse to rewatch the movie, which I hadn’t seen in at least ten years.
I’m pleased to say, the movie holds up well after 20 years. As a native New Yorker, an Italian and a lawyer living in the south, I really like this movie on a lot of levels. Not the least of which, it should be noted, is Marisa Tomei’s star-making performance as Joe Pesci’s big-haired, beautiful, foul-mouthed automotive expert witness/fiancee.
Here’s a clip of Marisa in action, in case it’s been a while since you’ve seen the movie:
I could watch clips of Marisa Tomei all day, but this being a law practice management blog and all, I wanted to write about a different aspect of the movie: resilience.
Resilience, as the psychologists use the term, refers to one’s ability to cope with stress and bounce back from setbacks. Throughout the first three-quarters of My Cousin Vinny, Joe Pesci’s Vinny suffers setback after setback. Yet each night he works hard and each morning he comes back to the courthouse to do battle for another day.
Vinny didn’t seem to know a lot of criminal procedure, but the man was a model of resilience.
We are each born with some measure of resilience. If your worldview tends to lean in the glass-half-empty direction, hope remains. A growing body of evidence indicates that we can learn resilience, or to “fall up” as Shawn Achor put it in an article on the Harvard Business Review website.
I’m working my way through Achor’s terrific book, The Happiness Advantage, and have been recommending it to anyone who will listen. If you’re not quite ready to start reading the book, but are a little curious about how you might learn resilience, you can check out Achor’s excellent (and short – 2o min) presentation, The Happy Secret to Better Work:
So, check out the video and the book, and and see if working to cultivate resilience in your life also produces benefits in your practice.
It worked for Vinny Gambini.