Earlier this month, I received an email and with it, a decision I had waited months to read. As my eyes darted across the page, a nervous anticipation flooded over me. That all too familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach grew stronger as I neared closer to the conclusion. The conclusion that would either confirm that feeling and multiply it a hundredfold, or switch it instantly into pure revelry.
I often reflect on the emotions that accompany being a young lawyer. It’s curious because one of the sobrieties is, in fact, the amount of sobriety that accompanies this career. In other words, the revelries are few and far between. This holds especially true in litigation.
Litigation, or the art of resolving disputes through the court system, is very much a trial by fire. To achieve the best results for your client requires thinking “outside of the box.” It requires taking a certain amount of calculated risk and at times, making the argument that your opponent did not figure into her original analysis. In a career where its all been done before, a fresh approach can be the crucial difference between winning and losing. The litigator is the artist of the legal profession.
But like any good artist, there is a certain amount ordeal required before success will follow. It may take 1,000 sketches before that artists completes her masterpiece. Litigation is no different. It may take 1,000 arguments before finding the one that finally sticks. The litigator will spend months, sometimes years, working on a case. Drudging through discovery. Fighting in motion practice. Trying to stay one step ahead of the opponent at all times. Sad to say, there is very little positive reinforcement in the process. Pressing on requires a delicate balance of tenacity and faith.
No matter how many times the litigator gets knocked down, she has to be willing to get back up again. No matter how hard she works without positive reinforcement, she has to have the requisite amount of faith to know victory is just over the hill. When victory does come, when she does finally reach the summit and feels the rays of attainment on her face, there is only one thing she must do: savor it. Breathe in every last ounce of that beautiful thing called winning.
Earlier this month, I found myself on the summit of one such hill. I smiled and laughed quietly to myself as the last period crossed the precipice where vision meets thought. In that moment, I knew exactly what I had to do. Before picking up the phone, before forwarding the email, before thinking about the next step.
I must savor it.