Paul Tafelski PC - February 2020

Legal Groundhog Day Defeating Monotony Makes a Better Lawyer Better Call Paul Better Call Paul Your Personal General Counsel

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February 2020

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As we roll into February, the last “holiday”movie hits the airwaves. “Groundhog Day,” the comedy staring Bill Murray, is probably more famous than the holiday it’s named after at this point. Even those who haven’t watched the film are aware of the basic premise: A man is cursed to relive the same day over and over again ad infinitum. So today, I want to address a pitfall many lawyers fall into —mistaking their day-to-day work as their own personal “Groundhog Day.” One doesn’t have to be in the law very long for this to start happening. You begin seeing patterns in the cases you take on. People face similar problems stemming from the same root causes, the same lines of questioning come up repeatedly, and the bog of standard procedures and paperwork begin to feel as unending as Bill Murray’s supernatural predicament. It’s no wonder many people burn out in this line of work. But the lawyers who succeed are the ones who see the differences in each and every case. These differences can be subtle, yet they create vastly different results in how a given case plays out. For example, the exact same case with the exact same plaintiff could play out in wildly different ways depending on the defense counsel put on the case, and that says nothing of the judge and jury. Knowing these factors and how best to respond is what sets apart a great attorney from those just treading water. Furthermore, the needs and situations of each client are utterly unique if you look beyond the surface level. From divorce proceedings to driving under the influence charges, no two cases are identical, and no one solution fits everyone you are trying to represent. Thus, representation has to have an element of personalized attention for the best chance at success. I’ve seen it, well, again and again. Sound familiar?

because a friend was in a similar situation. Their good or poor result is irrelevant. The facts, the people, and the timing of your situation are going to make your case unique; it will have its own path to success. This is all to say that lawyers can avoid falling into “Groundhog Day” by simply focusing on using their experience to help people as individuals facing their own challenges. This actually dovetails with the conclusion of the movie itself. Murray’s character only finds relief and joy in his situation when he starts using his knowledge of the day ahead to assist those around him. There’s a surprisingly apt metaphor in that.

“This isn’t just a lesson for lawyers.”

Until next time,

-Paul J. Tafel ski

This isn’t just a lesson for lawyers, though. I think it should be more widespread in the general public, too. There is no such thing as “your average court case.”Don’t expect the same outcome for your case just

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