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Be a Laboring Lawyer

Special to the News Columns

'The reputation we build through hard work and dedication not only benefits us individually but also contributes to the overall integrity and trustworthiness of the legal profession'

Jim Vickaryous

Jim Vickaryous

Abraham Lincoln once famously said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” This serves as a poignant reminder for lawyers to eschew laziness and embrace the laborious nature of our craft. In the legal profession, there are no shortcuts to success. The path to becoming a formidable lawyer is paved with perseverance, dedication, and a commitment to hard work. As lawyers, it is crucial to constantly remind ourselves of the importance of diligent preparation, including understanding our arguments and those of our opponents, along with meticulously checking the facts of each case.

The Florida Bar rules define diligence (FL Bar Rule 4-1.3) and demand that lawyers work hard. “A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.” That is, lawyers are obligated to work diligently, but it does not require the use of offensive tactics or preclude the treating of all persons involved in the legal process with courtesy and respect. Lawyers must manage their workload in a way that allows them to competently address each matter.

One of the fundamental aspects of being a laboring lawyer is understanding the arguments at hand. It is not enough to rely solely on our own perspective, we must strive to grasp the position of the opposing counsel as well. By doing so, we broaden our perspective, gain valuable insights, and become more effective advocates for our clients. Engaging with the arguments of our opponents allows us to anticipate their strategies, identify weaknesses in their reasoning, and develop counterarguments that are both convincing and well-informed.

Understanding the arguments of our opponents demonstrates respect for the legal process itself. The adversarial nature of law requires us to engage in a battle of ideas, with the main goal of arriving at the truth and ensuring justice. By taking the time to comprehend the arguments put forth by our adversaries, we demonstrate our commitment to upholding the integrity of the legal system. By immersing ourselves in the arguments of our opponents, we expand our legal acumen and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the of a case. This depth of knowledge allows us to anticipate counterarguments, craft persuasive responses, and present a well-rounded and compelling case before the court. The effort we invest in comprehending opposing viewpoints not only strengthens our own arguments but also promotes a fair and robust legal discourse that upholds the principles of justice.

Equally important is the necessity to diligently check the facts of a case. The practice of law is intricately tied to facts, and it is our responsibility as lawyers to uncover the truth and present it convincingly. Facts serve as the foundation upon which our arguments are built, and any negligence in verifying their accuracy can have grave consequences. A laboring lawyer understands that thorough fact-checking is not a tedious chore, but rather a vital step toward presenting a strong and compelling case. Our duty to seek truth requires us to diligently investigate and verify the accuracy of facts presented in a case. Through careful examination, cross-referencing, and consulting reliable sources, we can uncover hidden nuances, discover crucial evidence, and ensure that our arguments are firmly rooted in reality.

By prioritizing the laborious task of fact-checking, we uphold the integrity of our profession and maintain the trust bestowed upon us by our clients, the court, and society at large. We demonstrate our unwavering commitment to accuracy and reliability, which are essential pillars of the legal system. Through our rigorous pursuit of truth, we contribute to a more just society, where decisions are based on facts and where trust in the legal process prevails.

While technology has made information more readily accessible, it is not a substitute for the painstaking work of a diligent lawyer. Automated searches and online databases may provide a starting point, but it is through meticulous investigation, scrutiny, and critical thinking that we truly uncover the truth. A lazy lawyer who relies solely on easily accessible information risks missing crucial details, misrepresenting facts, and ultimately weakening their case. By embracing the laborious task of fact-checking, we demonstrate our commitment to the pursuit of truth and the delivery of justice.

Embracing hard work and diligence is not without its challenges. It requires sacrifice, long hours, and an unwavering dedication to our clients and the pursuit of justice. However, the rewards far outweigh the difficulties. By being laboring lawyers, we equip ourselves with the knowledge, skills, and reputation necessary to make a lasting impact in the legal profession. By consistently engaging in the laborious tasks of understanding arguments and checking facts, we develop the skills and expertise necessary to excel in our profession. We become better advocates for our clients, equipped with a deep understanding of the intricacies of the law and the ability to articulate compelling arguments. The reputation we build through hard work and dedication not only benefits us individually but also contributes to the overall integrity and trustworthiness of the legal profession.

The path to success as a lawyer is not for the faint of heart. It requires resilience, perseverance, and an unwavering commitment to hard work. A laboring lawyer understands that there are no shortcuts to excellence. While laziness may offer temporary respite, it ultimately hampers professional growth, diminishes credibility, and compromises the quality of legal representation.

Being a laboring lawyer demands a relentless commitment to hard work, thorough preparation, and unwavering dedication. We must continuously remind ourselves of the importance of understanding our arguments and those of our opponents, as well as the necessity to meticulously check the facts of the case. Laziness has no place in the legal profession, as it undermines the pursuit of justice and compromises the integrity of the legal system. By embracing the laborious nature of our profession, we embody the ideals of excellence, integrity, and professionalism. Let us cast aside laziness and rise to the challenges before us, knowing that through our hard work, we can make a profound difference in the lives of our clients, the legal system, and society as a whole.

Let’s all resolve to be laboring lawyers.

Jim Vickaryous is the managing partner of the Vickaryous Law Firm in Lake Mary and represents the 18th Circuit on The Florida Bar Board of Governors. 

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