Vivian Sobers, Virtual Office NYC Attorney: Your Adversaries are Your Mentors

By Law Firm Suites - March 7, 2014
Vivian Sobers, Virtual Office NYC Attorney: Your Adversaries are Your Mentors

This week in Young, Hungry and Committed, virtual office NYC attorney, Vivian Sobers applies the lessons she learned from her adversaries to her law practices and beyond.

When your name is the only one on the door, you do not have a third year associate to mentor you and help develop your legal skills and acumen. Solo attorneys, by nature, gain most of their skills through “on-the-job” training.

I guess that last sentence is a misnomer. I have found that most solo attorneys chose the path of self-employment only after they had acquired the necessary skills to effectively practice at another law firm and then hone them during private practice. (Maybe not all of them though, it seems no solo attorney understands the economics of self-employment when they first hang their shingle.)

Finding an unlikely mentor.

virtual office nycAs I mentioned, I went solo right after law school. For me, everything was a process; the learning curve was steeper than most. I had to get creative to learn the “in’s-and-out’s” of legal practice. My mentor, or any mentor for that matter, would only take so many phone calls about mundane procedural inquiries before they would go voicemail in mid-ring.

Instead, I learned from my adversaries.

Sure, I learned a lot of positive tactics that I continue to employ during client representation. Most importantly, I learned to mimic my adversaries’ body language while litigating. There is something to be said for “acting like a lawyer.”

But, I learned much more by watching my opponents and avoiding their negative behavior.

For example, I recently had a court appearance in New York County Supreme. As usual, I over-prepared. No matter how comfortable I get in my role as advocate, I will never be wholly comfortable and confident. I don’t consider this a bad thing. In fact, I never feel comfortable because I care about my clients. I never want to let them down.

So, I had over prepared and created this sweeping, grandiose argument that was so well-rehearsed that the draft even had the bolded and italicized words: dramatic pause.virtual office nyc

I never got to take that dramatic pause. (Which is probably for the better!)

I have learned that sometimes, the most effective legal strategy is to just shut-up and let your opponent dig their own hole.

When employed effectively, you don’t even have to give them a shovel. Most of the time, they bring their own.

Where else do I apply the lessons I have learned from my “mentor”?

As a litigator, I am by nature argumentative and opinionated. Knowing when to “shut-up”, is not something that comes easily. This is simultaneously a benefit and a burden.

But, in this above mentioned scenario, I let my opponent talked his way out of a favorable decision. He was ranting and raving so much that it pissed off the judge on the case.  I was able to get what I wanted with only a simple, “Yes, your Honor. Thank you.”

This is an important lesson for all lawyers. Sometimes, there is power in silence. It may be uncomfortable for us to fight the urge to speak.  (Let’s face it, we love to hear ourselves talk.) But, your silence coupled with the frenetic speaking of an adversary can provide a better outcome on a case than you could have ever prepared for.

Do you want to learn what Vivian and other virtual office NYC attorneys are doing to make their practice successful?

Get our Free eBook Virtual Lawyers Dish: Strategies For Success

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Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.

About Law Firm Suites

Law Firm Suites is the leading NYC shared office space for solo attorneys and small law firms. At Law Firm Suites, attorneys get headache free sublet office space, virtual office rentals and litigation hotel services. Law Firm Suites has two locations in Manhattan, one in White Plains NY, and one in Annapolis MD. Law Firm Suites' community of self-employed lawyers are eager to help colleagues succeed, and routinely exchange over $2.5 million in legal business every year in each LFS business center. Connect with Law Firm Suites on Twitter and .

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