Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

How a Cup of Coffee Will Make You a Better Lawyer


Do you ever have days where you get out of bed and just can’t seem to get warmed up – either literally or figuratively?

Here’s a simple exercise that might help. It won’t take much time and costs little or nothing. You don’t need any special equipment. You can do it at home or at the office – though for best effect it should be done as soon as possible after waking or arriving at work.

Making Each Day Golden

Step one: make yourself a cup of coffee. Hot chocolate works just as well, as does hot tea, or even hot water. 

Step two: pour your beverage of choice into a nice mug. By nice I mean porcelain, not paper or styrofoam. And certainly not a travel mug.

Step three: go to your favorite sitting place. It can be a chair, couch or floor. Wherever you feel comfortable. Preferably with a window nearby that offers a view of the rising sun and blossoming day.

Step four: hold the mug in your hands. This is important. Don’t put it down on the table. Enfold the warmth in your palms. (Risk management caveat: if you smell burning flesh or feel searing bolts of pain racing up your arms, place said mug down immediately.)

Step five: just sit there.

The Power of Warmth

And that’s it. The exercise is over. All you need to do is sit there with your handful of warmth and let the benefits flow. Look at the good things that have already happened:

  • You’ve calmed your body (otherwise you’d be sloshing hot liquid into your lap).
  • You’ve created space to gently welcome the new day rather than rushing headlong into it.
  • You’ve brought intentionality and mindfulness to your morning routine.
  • The caffeine is an added perk.

If all this sounds a bit too new-agey for you, here’s the best part: it just might make you a better lawyer.

Research shows that holding a warm cup – even briefly – can actually warm your personality as well. It makes you more generous. It makes you a better listener. It makes you more empathetic and tolerant.

These qualities could come in handy when dealing with clients, prospects, colleagues and judges.

Consider this study, where subjects were ushered into a room, handed either a hot coffee or an iced coffee and then spent a few minutes talking to someone they had never met before. The hot drinkers came away with far more favorable impressions of their new acquaintance than the cold drinkers. This was so even though the subjects had no idea that the drink they were holding was connected in any way to the experiment.

Magic by the Cup

Why does this happen? Nobody really knows.

Some scientists think it’s because that part of the brain that forms judgments is the same place that processes the sensation of warmth. Others say it is the ritualistic aspect that is important.

Then again, some point to a more primal explanation. They say the warm liquid connects us subconsciously to our earliest parental associations – in other words, a womb thing.  

Whatever the reason, the experience speaks for itself. Mug ipsa loquitor. And while you’re enjoying your warm cup, why not offer your client one too. It might be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.



Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney who has practiced North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact him at


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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