Author: Ken McRae

Step Two for Civil Conversation

In my last article, I discussed a four-step process for having better conversations on difficult matters. Megan Phelps-Roper, a granddaughter of Fred Phelps and former member of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, suggested this process in a TED Talk. The four steps she suggests are most effective for having conversations even on tough topics or in heated moments, are: Don’t assume the other side has a bad intent. Ask questions. Stay calm. Make the argument. I discussed the first step in my prior article; this article is about the second step—Ask Questions. Questions Must be Open-Ended It is...

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Don’t Assume Bad Intent: Step One for Civil Conversation

I recently watched an amazing TED talk ( that was not only fascinating but contained practical information which can be applied in numerous common situations. The talk itself focused on how we can reach others with different beliefs or viewpoints. As an attorney, I spend a lot of time trying to convince others to see things the way I, or, more importantly, how my client sees them. As a result, this talk was especially relevant to me, and I thought the information could be helpful to anyone who negotiates deals, talks politics with friends, or ever has a conversation...

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Should We Care About the Rule of Law?

The “Rule of Law” sounds like an arcane concept. At its heart, it is simply the idea that our nation is ruled by laws which apply to everyone equally. President John Adams famously described “a government of laws, not men.” It is such a fundamental part of our system we, unfortunately, do not spend much time thinking about it. The side effect of this lack of attention is that, if someone challenges the necessity of the rule of law, society is not accustomed to defending it. My first job as a lawyer was with a small firm. The two...

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How to Choose an Attorney

Just over twenty years ago I started my first job as an attorney. I earned my law degree in May, took the bar in July, and learned I passed over Labor Day weekend. I was ready to take on the world, and I knew exactly what kind of cases I wanted to handle. Important cases. Preferably with fundamental principles at stake. Perhaps Supreme Court worthy cases. As it turns out, the list of Supreme Court level, fundamental principle cases available at any given time is extremely short. The list of cases like that which a brand new attorney with...

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