It’s All in the Preparation

 In Living Our Best Life, Office Practice is Life Practice

The other day I was getting ready to prep a client for her deposition.   I reviewed the facts of the case from the first time we met. I looked over the police report, witness statements and photos. I reviewed her medical records for problems- and there were a lot.  Because of the complexity  of her case, I listed the  issues  and questions we needed to go over.

Of great concern were her pre-existing conditions. I asked her to tell me how she was physically doing several months leading up to the collision. She said  “I don’t know”. I asked her  the same question in different ways, hoping to draw out a better answer.  It didn’t work. She told me she just could not answer the question.  I asked her “If you can’t answer the question, then who can? The defendant?  The defense attorney?”   She looked right at me for the longest time, furrowed her brow, and said “You are right, I need to be able to answer this question”.

As I drove home later that day, I found myself thinking about the time I spent with her.  I realized that in order to figure out important answers, I have to understand the critical questions- especially the ones concerning my life. If I am not asking myself the questions, then who is?  If I can’t answer  the questions, then who will?

For all of us there are fundamental questions and answers about what brings us greater meaning in our life. But there is so much going in our lives that these questions often escape us.  It doesn’t really  take a lot of time to “tune into” this place.  But it does require some focused attention everyday.  We know what the outcome of  a deposition with an unprepared client looks  like- a lost and squandered opportunity.

Just like with our clients, the better prepared we are,  the better job we will do. When starting your work day, whether driving to the office  or when you first sit down at your desk,  ask yourself  this question:  How do I make sure I am true to who I am today?


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  • Ronn Elzinga

    Jim. Thanks for the great insight and for causing me to have to think. You caused me to ask myself if there might be a better question. Being true to myself depends on how I define myself, how I see myself. Sometimes I don’t have a very favorable view of myself, so the answer as to how to be a mediocre person might not be all that helpful. I wonder if a more challenging question would be, “What is one step I can take, one decision I can make today, that would grow me toward becoming the person I want to be?” Just a thought. As always, your writing inspires deeper thinking than I’m usually capable of. Keep it coming.

  • Jennifer

    That was a great article. Thanks for giving some of the most important advice, stepping back and thinking.

  • Damian Idiart

    Jim, thank you for helping me bridge a common client scenario to my own life. Sometimes I find myself judging my clients’ deficiencies too harshly when in reality I should be looking at my own life and asking the same questions. Sounds like you really helped this particular client and now you have helped me with mine. Thanks. Damian

    • Jim Dwyer

      Thank you Damian. I often find it’s important to examine the questions I am asking myself because they are driving the answers. If I am not asking the right questions how do I discover the answers?

  • Patrick Angel

    This is a great site/blog and a great idea.
    The lessons in this article are a great help to me. It’s so critical to be reminded, I am responsible for me, my growth, improvement, fulfillment, and happiness. If I don’t address these issues, who will?
    Thanks for offering this site to our legal community!

    • Jim Dwyer

      Thank you very much Patrick. I greatly appreciate your thoughts and feedback.

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