The Fierce Urgency of Whenever
Instant gratification has gotten a bad rap.
Daily we are warned by everyone from economists to exercise gurus to reject the quick fix in favor of deliberation, dogged diligence and delayed enjoyment. And make no mistake. These are all good and necessary virtues, especially in our profession.
But sometimes, success means knowing what you want and going for it. Now. Today. Right this minute.
Just ask Joshua Rosenkranz. He was named by American Lawyer as one of its 2011 Litigators of the Year for his work on a major trademark/copyright case. Rosenkranz represented MGA Entertainment, the maker of Bratz dolls, in a dispute against competitor Mattel, the maker of Barbie. After Mattel obtained an injunction requiring MGA to stop making Bratz and turn over its entire trademark portfolio, MGA appealed.
In his argument to the Ninth Circuit, Rosenkranz urged the panel to Just Do It and not waste time pondering the matter.
“Our entire strategy revolved around that moment in oral argument when we got to say to the court we beg you, if there’s anything you can do, do it now because if you issue an opinion in a few months the company will already be dead,” he says in a video interview with American Lawyer. “I could tell it struck an emotional chord. There was utter silence. You could hear a pin drop in that courtroom. There was this pregnant moment where people were half-expecting the court to actually do something right there.”
That didn’t happen. Instead the court waited a whopping four hours before issuing an order staying the injunction. When Rosenkranz got the news on his way back to his office, he said he screamed with joy.
Clients love quick results. What they don’t love is waiting in a lobby, waiting for a court date or waiting, period.
And from the practitioner’s perspective, nothing is sweeter than closing a file swiftly and successfully.
Yes, of course, haste sometimes makes waste. And slow and steady does indeed win some races.
But too often we practice with the Fierce Urgency of Whenever.
Why put off until later what can be done this second? If we fall into a habit of deferring action and sleeping on problems, we just might wake up like Rip Van Winkle to find the world has passed us by.