Does Luck Belong in Law?

In March, we celebrate two national past times, St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness. Lucky for me that you don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and you don’t have to watch every college basketball game to enjoy March Madness. On St. Paddy’s day, I enjoy celebrating the luck of the Irish and during the final four, I hope that luck is on my team’s side. But, you must ask yourself, “What is luck?” Is it stumbling across a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? Well yes, that would be rather lucky. By definition, luck is simply success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions. So, I ask you: Do you want your Attorney to be lucky? Or prepared?

Thomas Jefferson once said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” So yes! The Irish might have luck, but growing up as an Italian-American, I learned the value of hard work. You didn’t cut corners. I did what my family expected of me, and there was no compromising or complaining, and you didn’t want to disappoint anyone in your family. Those values still hold true today.

When I first started practicing law, I remember walking into my office for the first time being greeted by a stack of files and feeling like the luckiest man in the world to have such cases. As I sat down and opened the first file, I realized that these weren’t just paper files — they were people’s lives. These people were relying on me and putting their trust in me. Their lives would change based on the decisions I made or the decisions a judge and jury made. It was on that very first day that I committed to giving every single client my best. I committed to the hard work necessary to be the best Attorney that I could be. To this day, I treat every client like they are family members for that reason. When you are helping your family, you work as hard as you can and give them your all to get them the best possible outcome — you don’t solely rely on luck.

Don’t get me wrong, luck is always fun- but it has no place in your strategy when it comes to your legal matters. When it comes to practicing law, I would rather work hard and be prepared than relying on luck any day, no offense to the Irish. I was taught that with hard work and preparation, you will have more control over the outcome. The harder you work and the more prepared you are, the more successful you will be.

I always tell young attorneys, “Be the smartest person in the room and know the law even better than the judge.” If a young attorney can do that, they can establish themselves as the authority; meanwhile, the opposing counsel will have to play catch up. Luck doesn’t have anything to do with that situation. Either you work hard to be the smartest person in the room and stay on top of your game, or you don’t. It’s that simple. Which Attorney would you rather have working for you? One who is lucky or one who is prepared?

At the same time, if you are prepared and some luck comes your way, that’s great — it’s the icing on the cake! Sometimes my opponent in court shows up unprepared or misses a deadline, and that’s lucky for myself and my client. But, I can’t rely on that to happen every time. In any case, my job is to get my client the best possible outcome. If I show up prepared to win for my client, I have a greater chance of success than if I arrive hoping the opposition shows up unprepared.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have luck show up in every case. It feels like it was meant to be — but I’m going to prepare and work hard either way. Like Thomas Jefferson, I find that the harder I work and the more prepared I am, the luckier I become.