Education Goes Beyond School

“Can your attorney ever be too smart?” When you decide on an attorney to represent you, do you want one who thinks he or she knows everything? Nope, not at all. What you do want is someone who believes in life-long learning, not only for themselves but also for everyone who they work with.

After law school, I decided to pursue a master’s in law, and then my MBA, because it became clear to me that if I wanted to start my own practice and run a business, I would need more skills than I possessed. I believe everyone should pursue a formal education in Florida. It’s relatively inexpensive and provides benefits that will never diminish. I also believe that people should pursue their informal education every day. Getting your world view and news from Facebook is not what I’m talking about. With the internet, there is no reason why we can’t locate free information on topics and subjects that inspire us.

Elon Musk claims that thanks to the internet, a college degree is no longer necessary. Frankly, I couldn’t disagree more. Musk is a smart and gifted person, but the structure of a formal education helps people find their potential and benefits society. College is an opportunity to identify that potential and then eventually synthesize it into a career.

When you leave school, you also leave behind the teachers who set the agenda, so, it’s really up to you to pursue your future and find alternative ways to continue learning. For example, after 20-plus years of practicing law, my car is a rolling library of audiobooks and programs. The kids hate it, but, I would rather listen to a podcast on a topic I find interesting than listen to the opinion of some talking head who really doesn’t have a clue. I don’t have time to let others think for me. I attend seminars and participate in as many masterminds and marketing groups I can. If I want to be a better lawyer for my clients, I need to continue pursuing my informal education.

One of my fears is dying before I’ve reached my full potential. Obtaining a law degree was the starting point for me. Formal education in law helps you think like a lawyer, but that’s not enough. After law school, the first thing you learn is that you don’t really know anything about the business of law. When you realize that and understand your weaknesses in your abilities, you have to find new ways to learn to reach your goals.

I have no room for weakness in my life. If I’m the sum of the five people around me, then I want those five people to be able to push me in uncomfortable ways. Not because I need to gloat about how great I am, but because what drives me is my passion for helping people. If I’m not doing everything in my power to help my clients, that makes me weak. I can’t sleep at night if I fall short of meeting someone’s expectations. My clients need to see the conviction I have in my eyes and what their cases mean to me. That internal drive is what leads to more education because I need to equip myself to represent their good name at the highest level. I work harder than ever before because I still have a lot to learn.