Joseph F. Roda, president of Roda Law, presented a talk titled “Abraham Lincoln and Making a Case” to the Southwest Kansas Bar Association. Mr. Roda’s presentation discussed the role that persuasion had for Lincoln and the traits that made him so good at this.
According to Mr. Roda, ” Lincoln was of the most accomplished advocates the country has ever produced, a master at making a case, on his feet and on paper, as lawyer, in politics, and as president. We remember him for many things, but without his ability to make a case, we would never have heard of him. It was this ability, and only this, that brought him to national attention and the Republican nomination for president, and then played a major role in helping him win the presidency.”
Mr. Roda’s interest in Lincoln’s ability at making a case began in 2009 after reading Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Roda’s senior thesis advisor at Harvard. Roda noticed that Lincoln’s political speeches read like a trial lawyer’s opening or closing statement, and that led to research into Lincoln’s career as a trial and appeals lawyer, and to how much that career influenced Lincoln’s approach to persuasion outside the courtroom, in Lincoln’s rise to the presidency in the 1850’s, and in his presidency itself. That led to Mr. Roda’s lecture series for continuing legal education programs entitled “Abraham Lincoln, Trial Lawyer-in-Chief,” and to the now-expanded focus on what made Lincoln’s approach to persuasion so effective. Mr. Roda has presented his talk to attorneys throughout eastern Pennsylvania, to the International Academy of Trial Lawyers at their summer 2014 meeting in Vermont, and to lay groups as well.