7 Things to Keep in Mind Before You Walk into Court

Continuously working in a world of intense conflict and competition can debilitate even the most stouthearted lawyer. These quotes help you survive, and even thrive, amidst these daily challenges. Consider the following wisdom before you answer “ready for trial”:

1.) Stop judging. "We don’t actually know what a positive or negative experience is. Some of the most difficult and stressful moments of our lives also end up being the most formative and motivating. Some of the best and most gratifying experiences of our lives are also the most distracting and demotivating. Don't trust your conception of positive/negative experiences. All that we know for certain is what hurts in the moment and what doesn’t. And that’s not worth much." ~Mark Manson    

Commentary: Do we have any real clue whether some isolated occurrence is a good or a bad thing? Not really. Sometimes things initially perceived as “good” turn out bad and vice versa. Stop troubling yourself with this worthless judgment. Sometimes there is a bigger plan that won't manifest itself until later.  See things for what they are and don’t worry about where the road will lead.

2.) Keep your cool.Who then is invincible? The one who cannot be upset by anything outside their reasoned choice.” ~Epictetus

Commentary: Epictetus and the other Stoics realized that we can control very few things that happen to us. But what we can control is how we respond to those events. Define success by how you receive the gifts of “fate,” rather than getting what you want. By redefining success in this fashion, you are the victor every time. Look for opportunities everywhere, regardless of the circumstance.

3.) Remove your ego. "Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story instead of being the actor in it." ~Ram Dass

Commentary: Newsflash, it’s not always about you. Sometimes (most of the time) the best thing to do is to let go and just let things unfold as they will. Play the cards you have been dealt and don’t whine. A lawyers biggest challenge is controlling his or her own formidable ego rather than a ferocious adversary.

4.) Disengage. "I don’t think too many human beings are naturally above caring about victory and defeat. It’s imprinted in us to care about the outcome of our actions. While this may be natural and normal, the problem is that we can never fully control the outcome. Usually, in life, there are too many variables at play. So, no matter how mightily we strive or how intense our effort, odds are that at least some of the time we will come up short of our goals. And what makes things even more complicated is that the more attached you are to the outcome, the more tension and fear you will experience at the thought of possibly facing a crushing defeat—which reduces our effectiveness, since part of our energy is trapped in the jaws of fear.” ~Danielle Bolelli

Commentary: What is your job? Is it to ensure a successful result for your client or is it to thoroughly prepare and make the best argument you can? Your answer to this question defines your personal happiness. If you tie your happiness to successful results outside of your control and you fail, you are a failure. If you tie happiness and contentment to things within your control (your level of preparation or performance, for example) you control your destiny.

5.) Lighten up. "Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” ~GK Chesterton

Commentary: Relax and lighten up. Being tense and anxious has never helped anyone perform better. Take a breath and keep perspective. Remember, it’s not your life.

6.) Control your thoughts.There are more things likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” ~Seneca

Commentary: How many times have you anticipated a situation with dread only to find out it wasn't that bad? We all do it. Stay present and realistic. The monster under the bed is not real but a figment of your imagination. Things rarely are as bad as we make them out to be in anticipation. Stay realistic.

7.) Fortitude. "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~Attributed to Churchill

Commentary: Some days are better than others and a bad day does not make a bad life. Dust yourself off and get back on the horse. Like baseball, some innings are better than others but a game is rarely defined by a single inning. Keep perspective and carry on!

Published December 4, 2019

About the author


Steven N.Peskind

Principal Attorney

To be successful, a lawyer must have insight into the whole human catastrophe and be able to effectively traverse the legal system. It is the intersection of these two disciplines that fascinate me. I have been a lifelong student of both human nature and the law, and have created this blog to help others following my path.


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