I don’t know why this is so freaking hard for lawyers to say. Why do we hold ourselves to the impossible standard of knowing everything, all the time? Is it ego? Fear of failure? The truth is I don’t know. There, I said it again, and it didn’t hurt.
What is the successful lawyer?
Lawyers suffer from this affliction, maybe more than most. We’re never satisfied. For example, we either have too many clients or too few. We feel unappreciated by our clients or our families. We whine about mistreatment by our opponents and surly judges. It explains why many seek the “equanimity” of the bench: “If only I didn’t have clients and pressing deadlines… then I’d be happy.” It also explains why I often hear about the anticipated ecstasy of someone’s upcoming retirement.
Bad things happen when you lose your cool. We can all recall times when somebody triggered us at a negotiation, turning the conference into a food fight. And the last thing a judge wants to hear is lawyers bickering at the bench. With our adrenaline addiction, ferocious egos, and competitiveness, few lawyers can control themselves when provoked. But this is precisely what we must do to be successful both as negotiators and advocates.
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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