GOING TO BAT HOW PLAYING FIRST BASE MADE ME A BETTER LAWYER
Baseball season seems to get longer and longer every year, but I’m not complaining! Opening day was its earliest in Major League history this year, with both my beloved Phillies and Padres taking the field on March 29. One was a morning game, and the other was in the afternoon, so at least I didn’t have to choose between my hometown and my adopted team. By April, the season is already in full swing, and I can’t help but feel nostalgic for my old days in the infield. Back in my very earliest days of little league, I wanted to be a first baseman. That’s where all the action was. I kept my head down and worked hard; by college, I was playing first base despite being 5 feet 8 inches tall and left-handed. Not to toot my own horn, but I did well in my college years. I wasn’t error prone, and I was a good hitter. Still, I faced the same challenge as every other player (from the minor leagues to the pros): how to deal with defeat. Baseball, at the highest level, is a game defined by imperfection. Nobody bats a thousand. In fact, what is considered a very good batting average for a pro is hitting .300, which translates to averaging 3 hits for every 10 times at bat. Few sports or professions are defined by such a low margin of success. If I only won a third of my court cases every year, I’d be out of a job.
Maybe it’s this ever-present specter of failure that makes America’s pastime such a superstitious sport. From jumping over the chalked lines on their way to bat to eating a particular meal before a game, the wards and rituals of professional baseball are well- documented. I find myself even believing in this sort of magical thinking, being sure to always walk between the catcher and umpire on my way to the plate. clients. My only “rituals” before a big case are to go over my notes and to get a good night’s rest. Maybe I’m just more confident in my success as a lawyer then I was as a slugger. I don’t need the added psychological assistance, despite the stakes being a lot higher than my batting average. The one thing that does translate from baseball to being a lawyer is the difference hard work makes. To go from a .300 to a .333 batting average may look like a small statistical leap, but it’s what separates a great hitter from the likes of Tony Gwynn. The difference between a legendary hitter like what Tony Gwynn was and an average hitter is about one hit a week during the season. To reach that level, a player has to put in the time and effort to make sure each time they come up to bat they’re giving it their all. Interestingly, I don’t employ the same superstitions when I get up to bat for my
Now, I don’t mean to imply that I’m the “Mr. Padre” of attorneys. But I do employ the same focused, diligent attitude that got me playing first base despite my height with my clients’ cases. Just as one or two hits a week during a season can be the difference between a good and a great hitter, being able to catch one or two facts buried in the details can make or break a case. We see this all the time in both criminal and personal injury cases. Witnesses embellish details beyond their contemporary statements, the other side overlooks a key fact about the details of a case, and people forget the minutia. By paying attention to all the facts and leveraging our cases on key details, our firm has been able to go from a good track record to a great one. We put the time and effort in to knock it out of the park.
Let’s go Padres and Phillies!
Law Office of Elliott Kanter APC | (619) 231-1883
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