Today I played the part of a substitute teacher at a University in the area. I was instructing undergraduate Pre-Law students on how to brief a case. I am one that does not really do something unless I understand the reason for why I am doing it. "Reason" does not adequately catch the meaning. I should say that I must understand the PURPOSE for doing something. As I was instructing these neophytes on why briefing is important, I almost said, "Knowledge is power." I didn't. I try to stay under three clichés a day. I had already exceeded that restriction, so I kept the idea to myself. However, I did instantly recall two vivid instances that recently occurred in my life.
Instance one: Several weeks ago I was on the phone with an adverse party. I was laying the groundwork for the position my client wants to take in a contract battle. As I was nauseatingly explaining the basics of evidence at a jury trial, the voice on the other end said, "There won't be a jury. Your client signed an arbitration agreement . . ." As I sat uncomfortably silent, expression like a deer in headlights, I felt crippled. I felt incompetent. I felt defeated. I felt powerless.
Instance two: Again on the phone. A different day, a different adverse party. This time, while the other voice was explaining to me how they thought claims are settled (or more precisely, how little my client should be settling for), I simply indicated that my client is beyond settling and will initiate a law suit. The other voice shot back, "How do you have jurisdiction?" When I precisely and cogently explained how civil procedure in Federal Courts works, I heard the same deafening silence I experienced a week prior. The other voice quickly retreated to a conversation closing comment and vanished. I sat comfortably silent, expression like a champion prize fighter. I felt accomplished. I felt victorious. I felt powerful.
That's the precipice I stand on daily. The precipice of knowing/not knowing. I can easily slip to one side or the other. Most of the time I make sure I slip to the "knowing" side. I do so with preparation, research, and outlining my conversations. I take these painstaking steps to ensure that I have the knowledge I need. I understand that greater success is a direct result of the more I know.