Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lucky Ithaca Lawyer Preparation Meets Opportunity

Seneca Said Luck equals Preparation meeting opportunity
I'm currently reading a book about how to make luck. It's called How Luck Happens by Janice Murphy. Interestingly many of the ideas that Janice proclaims about making luck I've used in my legal practice and life. You see I really think I'm lucky (one of Janice's ideas) so I have been lucky. But the truth goes much deeper than that.

I think about how I can make my case outcomes better.

What Can I do daily, weekly, and monthly to improve our legal practice?
Can those we defend benefit from my luck?

Running Success Like Legal Success Demands Training

"You don't run twenty-six miles at five minutes a mile on good looks and a secret recipe."

-Frank Shorter

My wife has run four marathons. I have watched her train, and prepare for all of them. Months of running hundreds of miles to be fit and ready for one event. Her success at running came with a price. I am certain some mornings she did not bound out of bed at 3:00am or 4:00am full of enthusiasm to do the days mileage. In fact, she had plenty of struggles and questions.

Such as why am I doing this? and why am I doing this again? I can remember one race in particular. It was the Long Island Marathon and the temperature was well over 90 degrees. The kids and I stood in the shade and watched as seasoned runners were dropping out. Firemen were dousing the runners with water. Yet my wife because she is a finisher, in spite of tremendous pain, and with tears in her eyes completed that race. She has grown as a person from each of these trials. Trials of her person, her resilence, and of her determination. I am proud of the person she is, not because of the successes she has achieved, but because of the obstacles she has surmounted to accomplish them.

"I will prepare and some day my chance will come." Abraham Lincoln
"Spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation." Robert H. Schuller

They say "luck favors those who are prepared."

I do not know how many times people have called me lucky. For one reason or another almost as if blindness and ignorance were some communicable disease process, friends and colleagues have used that term. Everything of value in life took hard work. My marriage, my close friendships, my children, my professional education, and my practice successes all came as a result of choosing to invest my time, my energy, and my money. I took out many tens of thousands in student loans (a virtual loan alphabet), and of course, practice loans. They say being broke is the worst thing. I disagree, being deep in debt (as I say below zero) is far worse. But it is a motivator. That said...

Making Luck in Your Legal Practice

I believe that you make your own luck. No one has to tell the doctor, lawyer, CPA, or any other professional man or woman what it takes to earn a license. Yes I say earn a license because as you and I know they do not hand them out. But I also believe (yeah I have alot of strong convictions) that what you do with that license (merely a permission btw) is up to the individual.

I Naively Thought I was Done with Learning

For some people learning ends at graduation. I naively thought after getting my first professional license (as a Chiropractic Physician), I was done, no more tests, no more studying, no more working hard to be graded, and scored. I was wrong. The real school is on the battleground of day to day practice. How good you become at what you do is always up to to you!

I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.
-Thomas Jefferson

When I returned to law school at 33 years old to begin yet another education I used all I had learned from before. Success leaves clues. I prepared, studied, and passed three bar exams the exact same way. Failing was never an option for me.

Yes the world is a changing place, and many challenges lie ahead for all of us, but there will always be those that remain at the top of their fields. You can be the best in your area by studying, and investing in yourself. If you wanted to be the best plumber, there are plumbing books, seminars, and training programs. If you want to be the at the top of any field, resources are in abundance if you will only seek them out.

I am a firm believer in lifetime learning. My most valuable resource is my library. My collection of DWI defense and trial law books is extensive and growing.

If you want to know someone real well, look at two things: 1. the books they read, and 2. the people they hang out with. I am a member of the NCDD (National College of DUI Defense). This summer I'm excited to be attending the NCDD Seminar at Harvard Law School.

The National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) is a professional, non-profit corporation dedicated to the improvement of the criminal defense bar, and to the dissemination of information to the public about DUI Defense Law as a specialty area of law practice.


What you surround yourself with, what you invest in, and what you immerse your brain into, says alot about you as a person. Those that wile away the hours doing nothing productive may find that all that inactivity has an expensive price.

I could not prepare a case for trial without hours of reading, researching, and preparing. I prepared over 50 pages of cross examination for my last trial. I could never expect to remember all those questions. (btw We won!)

Success at anything of importance takes that diligence and focus. In every field, from criminal defense law to building a house. Winning, and being "lucky" at anything worthwhile begins with a goal, a strategy, and a well written, and detailed plan of action. Your follow through after that ensures your chances for a successful outcome.

This was a blog post from 2009, my first that I re-wrote for 2018.

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