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Be an early lawyer

Special to the News Columns
Jim Vickaryous

Jim Vickaryous

I have vivid memories of my father gazing through our picture window into the Alaskan darkness, the first light of the day still concealed beyond the contours of Pioneer Peak. It was always cold on the porch, and you could see the steam rising from his coffee. He would take a few moments to collect his thoughts, take another sip of warmth, and then stride resolutely into the bitter cold, primed to gain an early advantage in tackling the day’s demanding tasks on his dairy farm.

Unlike farmers, perhaps it’s not an absolute necessity for lawyers to get up before dawn. However, it sure helps to get a head start on your day. The only drafter of the U.S. Constitution that was not a lawyer, Benjamin Franklin, advocated an early start to the day with this wisdom: “He that rises late must trot all day.” I must admit, in my younger years there were days where I wished I had risen early but regrettably had to trot hard.

In the legal profession, punctuality and preparedness are vital for success. Being an early lawyer encompasses more than just arriving at the courthouse ahead of schedule, it is a mindset that enables attorneys to maximize their productivity, reduce stress levels, and demonstrate professionalism. Let’s explore the benefits of being an early lawyer, from enhancing focus and argument formulation to fostering effective leadership and inspiring others. By adopting an early mindset, lawyers can position themselves for greater achievements and unlock their full potential in the legal realm.

The early hours offer solitude, allowing lawyers to delve into case files, review evidence, and conduct thorough research undisturbed. This uninterrupted time fosters a comprehensive understanding of the legal nuances involved, empowering attorneys to craft well-supported arguments and anticipate potential counterarguments. By starting the day early, lawyers can harness the cognitive advantages offered by a fresh mind, ensuring that their arguments are meticulously structured, persuasive, and compelling.

Arriving early at the courthouse grants lawyers the invaluable opportunity to start their day with a calm and focused mindset. By beating the rush hour traffic and avoiding last-minute anxieties, lawyers can dedicate their undivided attention to formulating compelling arguments and strategizing their cases. The tranquility of an early morning environment provides the ideal backdrop for deep concentration and critical thinking, enabling attorneys to analyze complex legal matters with clarity and precision. In today’s world of virtual court appearances, being early helps too. Logging in 10 minutes early allows you to iron out all the glitches that tend to crop up when you log in a mere 30 seconds before your scheduled hearing.

Being an early lawyer not only benefits individual attorneys but also fosters an atmosphere of professionalism and effective leadership within the legal team. By arriving before their staff, lawyers can establish themselves as role models, leading by example and inspiring their colleagues to embrace punctuality and dedication. Being an early lawyer also creates a collegial culture in your firm. You have time to say good morning to the staff and see what they need from you, as you have already determined your day’s goals. Your staff and colleagues appreciate your cheerful morning greetings and encouragement. It makes a difference. If you are trotting into your office and shutting your door due to a late start, it does not build the relationships you need in your office for long term success.

Seeing a sunrise is one of the unexpected joys of life. Despite all the sunrises we have seen, a new day’s first light always inspires. Each sunrise has its own promise and character, and new meaning for us each day. Early lawyers experience the beauty of a sunrise and find inspiration in the world beyond the courtroom. Witnessing the dawn of a new day can be a powerful reminder of the potential for growth, progress, and success. It offers a moment of reflection, enabling lawyers to connect with their purpose and reaffirm their commitment to the pursuit of justice.

By embracing the early hours, lawyers can appreciate the journey rather than focusing solely on the destination. The serenity of the early morning allows for introspection, creative thinking, and personal growth. It provides an opportunity to set intentions, cultivate gratitude, and approach each day with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

In the legal profession, being an early lawyer offers numerous advantages that can significantly impact one’s career trajectory. From enhanced focus and argument formulation to reduced stress levels and improved time management, the benefits of starting the day ahead are undeniable. Moreover, embodying an early lawyer mindset fosters exemplary professionalism, effective leadership, and inspires others to follow suit. By embracing the early hours, lawyers can unlock their full potential, achieve greater success, and find inspiration in the possibilities that each day holds.

Remember, the early bird does indeed get the worm in the legal realm. Let’s all resolve to be early 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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