25 Lessons in 25 Years- Part II
We received some great feedback to Part I of my 25 Lessons in 25 Years post. As mentioned in that post, 2017 marks my 25th anniversary as a lawyer. I have decided to do a series of posts dedicated to certain lessons I have learned and how I have grown as a lawyer during those 25 years. Some of these lessons are universal across life in many different occupations; other are more specific to the practice of law; and some are even more specific to the practice of law in Indianapolis/Central Indiana. Like everything else in life, some of these will be more applicable to you than others. So, without further delay, and in no particular order except for number 1, here is part 2 of the 25 Lessons in 25 Years.
- Discovery. “Discovery” is the name given to the process for the months and sometimes years that that lawyers spend asking questions of the opposing side about the facts of the particular case. It is often very mundane, time consuming, boring and, unfortunately, very expensive. With all of that being said, it is also critically important, and I did not understand how important it truly was until my first “solo” jury trial when, shortly after opening statements, I realized the number of questions to which I did not have answers that I really wished that I did. Therefore, when you wonder why lawyers spend so much time on discovery, it is so that they can be as prepared as possible to try your case in court to try to get the best possible result, but understand that they do not enjoy the process any more than you do having to wait around for it to be completed.
- “Legalese”. Many contracts go on for pages and pages and even very educated people will look at those and become quickly overwhelmed and complain about all of the “legalese”, which is their term for a lot of words that they claim to not understand. I am here to tell you that the vast majority of those contracts, if you really take a few minutes to read them, actually are written in English and the legalese is something you can understand. I promise.
- Trials are Not TV Shows. Any lawyer who has ever tried a case in court or even taken a deposition will admit that often times you remember certain questions that you wanted to ask, or think of the best questions that you should have asked, on your way home from trial or the deposition. These are not like a TV show with an army of writers who can collaborate on a perfect script for you, and you do not get multiple “takes” to try to make everything perfect. You get one shot. It is a live performance and so things get forgotten; mistakes are made; and you just do the best you can on that particular day.
- Experienced Judgment. Successful lawyers have great judgment and intuition about what advice to give; great judgment comes from years of making the wrong choices or the wrong advice. Enough said.
- Trust. When people do not trust each other, it is almost impossible to negotiate a contract, settlement agreement, or get much of anything done. It is also incredibly more expensive to try to work through a situation, even if it is litigation, when the two sides do not have any level of trust for each other.
So that is 10 lessons down with 15 more to go. If you have any of your own suggestions to add, please feel free to comment.