Bianca Motley Broom Inspires New Lawyers in Daily Report Article
Miles mediator and arbitrator Bianca Motley Broom recently shared wise counsel in the Daily Report article: “You’re Going to Fail–and Other Great Advice for Rookie Lawyers.”
Excerpt from article:
You just passed what may have felt like the biggest test of your life, but at some point you will fall short as an attorney. You may not connect with a client in an important way. Your argument may fall flat before the court, or opposing counsel may show you why we are all “practicing” law. All of those things may happen in the same case, on the same day. Every attorney has been brought back to earth at some point or another. The key is what you do next.
I hope whatever your story of “failure” is, it serves to make you better.
A few years ago I tried a case in a remote part of the state. My client and I were the only people in the courtroom who didn’t know everyone else. I lost—in every way. My objections were overruled, my arguments fell on deaf ears and ultimately the plaintiff received everything she requested from the court.
I was livid. On the way home, I called my mother, my friends and everyone else I could think of to vent.
About a year later, I went to the same county and a jury did exactly what I asked them to do. By that time, however, I’d realized my worth wasn’t tied up in my verdict. I was certainly happy about the outcome, but it didn’t warrant calling all of my contacts to announce my victory. I didn’t let the ghosts of trials past overwhelm my thoughts and actions when I returned. It wasn’t in my or my client’s interest to let that baggage affect my conduct going forward.
As much as we try, none of us are perfect. Please keep that in mind every step of the way on this new journey. Just because you are an attorney does not mean you have all of the answers. You may find the people who know the most about navigating the turbulent waters of your first few years of practice don’t have the largest offices. They may work in an interior cubicle but have a relationship with the person in the clerk’s office of the remote courthouse where you need to file an answer by the end of the day. People who work to support you behind the scenes are often worth their weight in gold. Treat them accordingly. They can help you avoid pitfalls you would otherwise encounter. Most of all, be humble. You haven’t made it this far without the support and encouragement of lots of people; you will continue to need others to become the best attorney you can be.
When you make mistakes, own up to them. See above: you are not, and do not have to be, perfect. Most of us who have been in this profession for any length of time can point to someone they know who lost their job not because of making a mistake, but trying hide the fact they made one.
You’ll never forget those hard-learned lessons. You may end up becoming an expert in the area in which you initially failed. It’s also possible what you perceive initially as a failure ends up taking you to a good place you never expected. You’ve already taken the first step by passing the bar. I’ve found my place in this profession and I’m confident and you will as well. Congratulations!