25 Lessons in 25 Years- Part III




We continue to get great responses and comments to Parts I and II of my 25 Lessons in 25 Years.  It is clear that many of the lessons that I have learned through the practice of law are universal across life in many different occupations.   I am pleased to see people actually read these and hopefully they have some meaning to some of you.  With that being said, here are the next 5 of my 25 Lessons in 25 Years:

  1. I Don’t Care . . . .  . . . what the truth is.  Whatever the truth is, no matter how “bad” it is, so long as I know what it is, I can handle that in order to get the best possible result under the circumstances.  What renders me helpless and unable to assist is when I am told things that are not true, or that are not the “whole truth.”  I have been in trial when the truth, or at least some new version of the “facts”, finally comes out.  At that point I may as well have gone and played golf, because my credibility, and my client’s credibility, was completely lost.  If I had known the truth at the beginning, the case would have been handled far differently.  This lesson leads to the next, which is
  1. The Truth Will Come Out.  For whatever reason, in 99% of all cases eventually the truth will come out.  In my experience trying to dance around or ignore certain facts and circumstances through “sharp practice” does not work, and eventually the full story is told, or a judge or jury sees the situation for what it really is.  Again, because the truth is going to come out, let’s deal with it head on right from the beginning.
  1. Some Clients are Just Not Worth It.  As mentioned in lesson #25, practicing law, where you are often being asked to handle or perhaps solve problems that are not of your own making, is stressful enough.  There are certain clients who will never be satisfied with anything you do, will complain about the bill (unless you work for free and then they will complain about the quality of the work), and you will live in constant fear that the client will sue you later for malpractice.  Life is too short; let them go yell at someone else.  And how do you know who these people are? . . .
  1. Trust Your Gut.  Not only when looking at whether or not to represent someone, but in all aspects of your professional life, trust your gut.  That instinctual feeling is correct much more often than not.  Of course, this lesson applies in all aspects of life.  When faced with a difficult choice, take a breath, be silent, and listen to what your gut is telling you.  Then follow that advice and do not look back.
  1. Because You Never Know.  I mentioned earlier that cases settle because anything can and usually does happen in court.  One of the more consistent patterns I have noticed is how often times those people who you think will make the best witnesses get nervous and flustered or otherwise do not do well as a witness at all.  Other people, who you have put on the witness stand only because you feel like you have to, and you are terrified about how they will present, turn out to be wonderful witnesses.  When you go to court, you just never know . . . .

            Stay tuned for Part IV next week.