Crisis Of Confidence
I once heard it said that, “I experience a crisis of confidence everyday” from a solo practitioner. If you aren’t challenged and confronted with new, complex, and novel issues everyday, you probably are retired or totally missing what you should be catching.
Too many lawyers get into trouble because they freeze when confronted with difficult issues and fail to move forward on a matter. They miss deadlines because they are afraid of making the wrong decision. So often, they do nothing until it is too late. You should do your best, exercise good judgment, and seek the opinion of others in new practice areas. Some of the best sources for solutions are other attorneys practicing the same area of law. In my experience, lawyers are very willing to give freely of their knowledge and often offer materials that they have produced so that you don’t have to “reinvent the wheel”.
The Answers Are Not Always In The Books
Also, so much about legal practice is grounded in tactical decisions which are often not discussed in the practice manuals as they usually play upon the unique facts and circumstances of each case. Who is the judge? What timing considerations are at play? Where is the greatest uncertainty? Is opposing counsel able to wait you out with a greater “war chest”? None of that is in the books – it is a matter of judgment gained from practice experience or the advice of others with more extensive practice experience.
But if you fail, learn from your experience and move on. Maintain good malpractice insurance coverage, and work hard to improve your outcomes for your clients at all times. The best way to deal with those difficult days when opposing counsel puts you through the “meat-grinder” and treats you with disrespect is to have someone you can go to for your mental health to unload and put things back into perspective. Develop a good mentor-mentee relationship. It can be a real healthy way for you to decompress and ventilate when things get tough. Of course, if you are married or in a committed relationship, he or she will offer you words of support. But, it is difficult to fully explore all of the nuances of a case without treading into revealing confidential information, so your spouse may not be the ideal sounding board. That is why it is helpful to develop a support system from those in the profession with strong mentors. And when they come to you for support, make time for them and be prepared to give back when called upon. It will make your life much less stressful and offer you a means of healthy redirection of your frustrations when needed.