Wednesday, January 7, 2015

High Voices and The High Court

My uncle recently sent me a study from a linguistics journal in which a pair of researchers at the University of Chicago found this:

Lawyers with higher, less masculine voices, tend to have a better chance of winning a case presented to the U.S. Supreme Court than do those with deeper voices. The researchers enlisted the assistance of 200 volunteers to listen to 60 recordings of male lawyers making a pitch to the high court, specifically to their opening statement, which is the same for everyone. The volunteers were asked to rate the person by voice alone regarding masculinity, confidence, etc. The team then used the data from the volunteers (and from acoustic statistical analysis) to compare against how successful the lawyer had actually been in making their case. They found that one single trait stood out from the others, the degree of masculinity of the voice. Those with high or less masculine sounding voices fared much better than did those with low, masculine sounding voices.

Now, I’ve never had the pleasure of appearing before the United States Supreme Court, but if I did, I now know exactly who I would hire as outside counsel to argue my case: The Chipettes! Specifically, Eleanor, Brittany, and Jeanette.

Apart from being totally adorable, they have really high voices and look super smart. Especially Jeanette. (Because she has glasses. Because she reads. Like, a lot. And her little chipmunk eyes hurt from reading so much. So she had to get glasses. So that means she’s smart. But when she whips off those glasses with one paw and lets down that top-knot of fur from her chipmunk head, Wowza! Watch out)!

Anysqueak, Jeanette would be the one to argue the case, and I would make Brittany and Eleanor do all the briefing. They all have the same squeaky, high voice, but Jeanette really has the look that says: 


“You can trust me, Justice Sotomayor and Chief Justice Roberts, because I have glasses AND a high, squeaky voice. Yes, yes. I concede that I’m a rodent. Actually, allow me to amend that slightly: I'm a cartoon rodent. But there is this little thing . . . well, it's kind of a big deal actually, and it's called equal protection. It's in the part of the Constitution  . . . hang on . . . I think I chewed through my copy ... oh here it is . . . it's that part that says all men and anthropomorphized singing female Muppet chipmunks are created equal. I would draw the Court’s attention to its landmark 5-4 holding in Alvin v. Theodore & Simon, et al., 123 U.S. 67 (1986).” 

Come on. Jeanette would OWN that argument.

This study has single-handedly rendered irrelevant all legal scholarship on what it takes to present a winning argument to the High Court. All you need is a plaid skirt, glasses, a high squeaky voice, a pair of prominent CGI incisors, and a taste for raw cabbage leaves and karaoke.

Thank goodness for the law firm of Eleanor, Brittany, & Jeanette, LLC!

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