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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rule of Threes in Application

Tom Singer, an attorney in South Bend, Indiana and adjunct professor of trial advocacy at the University of Notre Dame Law School, has been teaching about the Rule of Threes for many years. The Rule of Threes holds that human beings are hard-wired to process information best when it is presented in groups of three. It is an effective rhetorical device, as well as an excellent organizing principle for case analysis.

Tom's teachings have influenced generations of students and advocacy professors. In fact, the Rule of Threes has become something of an obsession for Charlie Rose, perhaps because he has the number three (Charles Harris Rose III) in his name.

One of the fun things about the rule is that examples of it can be found outside the world of advocacy as well. For example, one of my students introduced me to the Celebrity Death Rule of Threes, which holds that A-list celebrities usually die in groups of three within a few days of each other. Since she introduced me to it in 2005, I've found it to be universally true.

Sports Illustrated has an article today referencing the Rule of Threes, this time in the area of athlete misconduct on the Tennessee Titans football team. Check out the article here.

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