Yeargan Kert - April 2020

THE DEFENSE REPORT

APRIL 2020

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HOW I DESTRESS MYSELF AND OTHERS COMING DOWN TO EARTH

Whenever I’d ask my dad what it was like being a pilot, he’d tell me the job consisted of “long periods of calm with brief moments of being scared out of your mind.” While I never got behind the controls of an aircraft myself, I did eventually come to know what he was talking about. Quiet periods followed by flashes of sheer terror is exactly what it’s like to be a young attorney. Okay, well, I won’t say taking a case to trial is exactly like flying a plane, but they both have their moments of extreme stress. After years of law school, it can feel easy to cruise through the pretrial process with minimal turbulence. Doing research, prepping your case, gathering evidence — these can almost be calming activities if you like the work. But when it comes to landing a favorable verdict, even an experienced attorney’s blood pressure can spike. In both cases, the real pressure comes from the fact that lives are on the line. A defense attorney may not literally be delivering dozens of people safely to the ground from 30,000 feet, but the way they handle a trial can dramatically impact the life of the person they represent and their family. That’s a pressure any responsible attorney is deeply aware of any time they step into a courtroom. Of course, it gets better with time. As years pass, the more you’re prepared for whatever crosswinds the prosecution throw your way. You still have moments where something new crops up — unique cases and niche situations can rattle even the most experienced lawyers. The difference is that these veteran attorneys know how to respond under the pressure. I bring all this up because April is, among other things, Stress Awareness Month. My line of work is far from the only one that can be high-pressure at times, but I am still often asked how I deal with the weight of responsibility that being an attorney carries. I wish I had some magic, life-changing advice on the subject, but the truth is my stress management is pretty run-of-the-mill.

When I get home after preparing for a difficult case, my go-to remedy is lying on the couch with my girlfriend’s Chihuahua, Coco. As well- known as her breed is for anxiety, Coco still has a very calming presence. Eventually I pull myself out of the living room and go work out, putting the stress-created nervous energy to good use and making it that much easier to get a good night’s rest. One thing I’ve also found helps in stressful situations is talking out a problem with someone. Keeping concerns locked up inside your own head has a tendency to make problems seem bigger than they actually are. Regularly, after meeting with a new client for the first time, they tell me, “I feel so much better after talking to you.” And there’s something to that. Facing a criminal charge can seem like the end of the world, at first. As I see it, part of my job is to help you see that there is life after an arrest, and you can get back to your normal life. Still, I know how much these fears can keep people up at night, which is why I keep my cellphone on at almost all hours. If you have a question that’s keeping you from getting a good night’s rest, by all means, call me. I’m happy to address your concerns and bring your anxiety levels back down to earth. Feel free to reach me at (678) 358-6141.

No stress,

–Jim Yeargan

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