The Florida Bar

Florida Bar News

Be a resolute lawyer

Special to the News Columns

The resolute lawyer stands the test of time and has learned the secret of building relationships. Take the time to build relationships and realize it’s one of the most essential skills

Jim Vickaryous

Jim Vickaryous

Be a resolute lawyer. A new year often brings about resolutions. Unfortunately, resolutions quickly disappear. The way resolutions become reality is by being resolute. Lawyers should embrace the character trait of being resolute. When you first meet with a client, they have their resolutions to guide you and your representation of them. However, it is up to you as their lawyer to be resolute in carrying out their wishes to conclusion.

Groups of people organizing themselves often start with resolutions. However, when they write their organizational goals, they never use the word resolution. They often use the phrase, “we resolve to.” Resolution is the wish; resolve is the action.

“Resultus” is the Latin word for resolute, meaning released to act. Indeed, the word result is also a derivative of the word resolute. Being resolute by its nature will bring results.

Be resolute in your long-term goals but remain flexible. Like a mountain climber focuses on getting to the top of a mountain. Their footsteps may change along the way. They haven’t planned out every single step so they’re flexible in how they arrive at their goal. Sometimes you must go down to go up, sometimes you have to change directions.

To succeed in our profession, it takes a tremendous amount of perseverance and determination. As we begin yet another new year, I think it’s a good time to revisit some of the characteristics of resolute lawyers and why they are important. The resolute lawyer is disciplined, has solid core values, remains strong in adversity, and develops long-standing relationships.

A resolute lawyer is able to minimize distraction and focus on the essential issues needing action. Many things will compete for your time and attention as a lawyer. Discipline is necessary for time management and as a buffer against trivial things that constantly compete for your attention. Discipline is also necessary to set the pace for others in your firm. When discipline is strong best practices generally follow. Being resolute is contagious, as others appreciate working with someone who is consistent pushing forward with action.

Resolute lawyers stick to their core values. When your values are clear to everyone in your firm, the decision-making process is simplified. If a policy or action doesn’t align with your core values, the decision is clear. Knowing your core values is essential to your practice. Defining and accurately communicating core values is essential. The resolute lawyer makes this a priority. Values keep the resolute lawyer grounded and provide direction.

A resolute lawyer is able to seamlessly work with others that do not share their core values. A lawyer’s given tasks are often limited in scope. This limitation of scope gives a resolute lawyer the ability to work with those who disagree on many other things. A resolute lawyer builds consensus on the small things that often matter most to the success of a client’s case.

Most lawyers face adversity. The test is not whether you will face challenges but in how you will respond to them and how quickly you can put them behind you. The resolute lawyer’s strength is not developed in adversity but rather it is revealed in adversity. The strength that gets you through adversity is grown over time and is a maturity factor. A resolute lawyer will not back down in adversity but will see it as just another milestone in their growth.

A resolute lawyer is a relationship builder. The primary reason is because practicing law in a vacuum is highly limiting. The success of the resolute lawyer is tied to the success of those around them. The resolute lawyer stands the test of time and has learned the secret of building relationships. Take the time to build relationships and realize it’s one of the most essential skills. In sum, resolute lawyers are leaders.

We have much to be thankful from the resolute lawyers that came before us. Resolute lawyers such as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both created our country and drafted a constitution that has kept our country intact for hundreds of years. A resolute lawyer named Abraham Lincoln by sheer force of will maintained our union. There are many resolute lawyers today. Indeed, we all know a number of them.

Resolute lawyers have learned how to navigate through adversity, have the discipline to lead themselves and others, have built relationships, and are passionate about the future. Come what may, resolute lawyers are optimistic. After all, why choose to be resolute if you don’t think the future is worth fighting for. Through hard work and perseverance, the future is bright for those who choose to be resolute. When your values are aligned with your vision you can proceed with confidence in knowing that today can be good and tomorrow can be even better. Let’s all resolve to be resolute 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. 

News in Photos