404-418-8244 September 2019 WWW.BRAUNSLAW.COM 3175 SATELLITE BOULEVARD, SUITE 330, DULUTH, GEORGIA 30096
HARDWORK > TALENT The Equation for Success
I didn’t start law school until I was 31. After graduating from college, I had a whole career in sales before realizing I wanted to become a lawyer. Going back to school was a challenge for me. I hadn’t taken a test or sat in a classroom for over 10 years! Then suddenly I was surrounded by these 22-year-old kids who went straight from college to law school without missing a beat. It took some time to get back into the swing of things. Law school was a great experience but one I would never want to repeat. For one, it was constant pressure. Your grade in the class is determined by the final at the end of the semester. It was a real pressure cooker. Additionally, most of the law school professors were condescending and patronizing. They talked to me like I was a kid, even though I was often their age or a little older. It drove me crazy! I couldn’t help but think about how if we were in a boardroom in my old career, they would have treated me with more respect. It was so frustrating, but I learned how to put my ego aside and get through it. One teacher who was never condescending was my contract law professor, Corneill Stephens. Professor Stephens is a magistrate court judge in DeKalb County and my favorite teacher in law school. I once saw him use the Socratic method to have a
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
student concede that you don’t need air or water to live. This is obviously wrong, which is what made the way Professor Stephens was able to back this student into a corner so amazing. Professor Stephens was tough; you really had to come to his class prepared, but he garnered a lot of respect. The class voted him best teacher because Professor Stephens knew how to reward hard work. When I went to law school, I paid for it out of my own pocket. I took myself out of the workforce while my wife supported me. It was high stakes, and failing was not an option. For three years, law school was my full-time job. I was in class or studying 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. five days a week. I lived, breathed, and slept law because I had to be the best. All the effort and sacrifice paid off. I graduated in the top 10% of my class.
My advice to anyone thinking about being a lawyer is to do the work. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. In law school, everyone comes in thinking they are super smart and skilled — and they are, or they wouldn’t have gotten into law school. But that talent only takes you so far. Law school shows you that you don’t have to be the best or the smartest; you just need to be the one who works the hardest. This counts for any area of your life. If you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll come out on top. -David Brauns
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