David Boies has been involved in many high-profile lawsuits in the United States, but he struggles with reading and has a very limited vocabulary. How is he a successful lawyer with those struggles?
"Because of my inability to read notes with facility, I have developed a pattern where I will organize my thoughts and then speak extemporaneously around those thoughts without notes, and that is a continuing part of the way I try cases," Boies said.
He adds: "There are also lots of words I don't pronounce well, and my speaking vocabulary is probably—it's less than half, for sure, of my reading vocabulary. So that affects the words that I use, which probably helps, because I'm tending to use simpler words and more familiar ones."
Boies did not learn to read until the third grade because of his dyslexia, but learned to overcome that disability by memorization and using his great memory to critically analyze the material he’s given for cases. This way, he was able to handle the rigor of law school and become chairman in one of the nation’s premier law firms.
Boies notes that many times, reading is correlated with intelligence, and he knows this isn’t the case. He offers advice for students struggling with dyslexia.
"Reading has nothing to do with intelligence," he said. "It’s just one way of getting information. The important thing is how a person processes that information, the kind of person we are, the contributions we make, and the kind of utility we have for society."