Lawsuits and cases can be unpredictable. Relying on what a client says is an important function in any legal proceeding, but there are times that what a client says is not actually what happened. It may be that their emotions have colored the situation. It may be that they have convinced themselves that they are in the right, or the wrong, for that matter. When new evidence emerges, it can be difficult for attorneys because, often times, it may throw a wrench in their case strategy.
That’s where adaptation comes into play.
Attorneys must rely on their ability to adapt to situations, including the discovery of new evidence, witness testimony, or even a lousy ruling at a hearing that could potentially damage their approach to a lawsuit.
Albert Einstein once said that “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
If you embrace change, you can use it to your benefit. No case is set in stone, so utilizing adaptation as a part of your case strategy from the very beginning can help you better acclimate when cataclysmic evidence surfaces. Being ready and willing to accept unforeseen developments will not only assist you with developing a more concrete position, it will help make you a better lawyer.
Here are a few ways to adapt to change, in life and in business:
- Welcome Failure.
Things will not always play out the way you might think, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot or will not succeed. Anyone can make what they want to happen happen, but you have to be willing to see failure as a fork in the road rather than an obstruction. Often times, what looks like the end is simply the beginning of a new strategy, so bear that in mind the next time you “fail”.
2. Put an Emphasis on Learning.
Treat every situation as a vehicle for education. When you go in with the understanding that you might not know everything about a particular case, you leave an opening for greater knowledge. This will contribute to ultimate success. Even when losing a case, an attorney can learn a lot, whether from his opponent, his legal positioning, or the witnesses straddling the bench. Each and every proceeding you tackle is an opportunity to learn more. Think of it as continued legal education, without the tuition!
- Be Accountable.
Accountability is just as important as adaptability. When you proudly take responsibility for your work and recognize the hard work of others, you promote a well-balanced strategy that embraces change and fosters unity within any legal team. Showing your staff that you rely on them and that you recognize and appreciate their work will help you build a strong and stable firm, one prepared to meet changes in the legal world without hesitation.
- Stay Humble.
Confidence is a virtue. It is an important aspect in life and in law. You have to believe in your work if you want to win a case. Moreover, you have to have confidence in yourself and in your client(s). The key is learning to balance confidence with humility. When you are overconfident, you can foster a sense of tunnel vision that may blind you to facts and strategies that others might pick up on more easily. Remaining open and acknowledging that your opponent is just as skillful and confident in his or her case strategy is a great way to operate during any legal proceeding. This humbleness will allow you to embrace and adapt on the fly, helping you to counter arguments more quickly and re-assess situations to make the changes necessary to come out on top.
Take the time this week to focus on adaptation. Look for ways to incorporate this process in your casework. You may find that it will “change” the way you operate for the better!
“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher.”
– Chinese Proverb
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