Intellectual Athletes | Above the Law

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With the Tokyo games fast approaching, my mind wonders to the parallels between the practice of law and the Olympics, of which there are many. Both involve the culmination of copious amounts of preparation and a formidable work ethic coming to a head in a competitive setting. If you succeed in your endeavor you will likely become a hero (in the eyes of your client or country, respectively). And if you fail, you will likely fade into obscurity (unless you crash and burn, in which case you will live on in infamy). It’s no wonder that many former Olympians segue into the practice of law.

A large part of what makes legal proceedings, and the Olympics, so exciting is the build-up of labor that precedes the event itself. Then, after months and sometimes years of tedious preparation, all the chips fall in a flash. In complex cases, we dedicate countless hours to wrestling with every contingency and offshoot that could reveal itself. For the Olympics, athletes spend years and small fortunes to compete against the world’s best. A good showing in the games can change an athlete’s image much like a career case can cement the reputation of an attorney.

Nowadays, most cases settle, which makes me even more appreciative that I work at a firm that prides itself on not being eager to settle and that does not shy away from actually litigating cases it takes on. In private practice, experienced litigators are becoming increasingly rarified, which makes an environment where you get to litigate sophisticated matters all-the-more covetable.

Like with the Olympics, success in the practice of law requires preparation and a formidable work ethic. While preparation may be the ticket of entry to the soirée of litigation, technique is equally important. Last summer, I attended the U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach (golf was reintroduced at the 2016 Summer Olympics) and I was amazed at the technical abilities of all the golfers on full display during their warmups. Likewise, I was amazed when I realized the level of preparation  and the mechanics our firm takes in handling arguments. I was no stranger to preparing outlines and running through arguments with colleagues — but the commitment to the art of argument is second to none here — going so far as to hire members of the public to act as juries.

The process is the practice. So, with winter coming to a close and the summer games on the horizon, let’s all take a moment to pause and appreciate the intellectual Olympians our work forces us to be. Now, back to work for me. I hope I stick the landing.

Timothy M. Lupinek is an attorney at Balestriere Fariello who represents companies and individuals in state, appellate, and administrative courts of Maryland. He focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation with thousands of hours of civil, criminal, and regulatory trial experience. You can reach Timothy at timothy.m.lupinek

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