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7 Ways to Improve Your Legal Luck

by Jay Reeves |

This is the season of four-leaf clovers, leprechauns and pots of gold.

But smart lawyers know that success depends on many factors – and luck is the least of them.

According to the dictionary, luck is something that happens regardless of our will, desire or intention. It can be either good or bad. The point is that we have no control over it.

If practicing law were purely a matter of luck, we would simply spin the wheel or roll the dice and wait like potted plants for the outcome. And though sometimes it may seem that way, the truth of course is otherwise.

Luck is the residue of design, according to lawyer and baseball Hall of Fame executive Branch Rickey. By this he meant that planning and execution produce what we often call “good luck.”

Rickey signed Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player in the major leagues, to play for his Brooklyn Dodgers. It was a risky move. Success depended on groundwork, patience and persistence – not to mention the extraordinary courage, character and talent of Mr. Robinson.

In other words, luck had very little to do with it.

7 Lucky Quotations For Your Law Practice

  1. I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it. Thomas Jefferson. The lawyers who tend to be the luckiest are invariably those who show up early, roll up their sleeves and get to it. The unlucky ones waste time complaining, blaming and making excuses.
  2. People always call it luck when you’ve acted more sensibly than they have. Anne Tyler. Have you ever accepted a client and later regretted it? Fired off an angry email without thinking? Rejected a proposal rashly? Common sense and a little time for reflection are better than a pair of rabbit’s feet.
  3. You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from. Cormac MacCarthy, No Country For Old Men. Sometimes a setback is a blessing in disguise. Lucky lawyers learn from defeats and push forward. Unlucky ones fall down and stay there.
  4. Oh, I am fortune’s fool! – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. Sure, you can always hope that it will snow in July and cancel court, thus eliminating your need to prepare for trial. Or you could open the file and get your case ready. Your choices – unlike the weather – are your responsibility.
  5. Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck - Dalai Lama. As grandma always said, Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it. This applies to clients who refuse to settle and insist on going to court, and it applies to lawyers who ask questions on cross-examination without knowing the answers. 
  6. Luck is preparation meeting opportunity – Seneca. Good lawyers are always learning. They consult with colleagues, keep current on case law and stay awake at CLEs. They are planting seeds that will yield sweet fruit down the road.
  7. I broke a mirror and got seven years bad luck. My lawyer thinks he can get me five. Steven Wright. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

And remember, when all else fails you can always buy a lottery ticket.

Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. His lucky numbers are 3 and 7. jay.reeves@ymail.com, phone 919-619-2441.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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