This week in Young, Hungry and Committed, virtual office New York attorney, Vivian Sobers states that confidence derives from practice and experience.
Confidence, sometimes, even false confidence, is an essential part of effective lawyering. But you can only “fake it til’ you make it for so long.”
In my view, part of confidence as an attorney comes from practice.
While I’m in a different court and a different county almost every day, nothing has quite allowed me to cut my teeth as well as night court.
Yes, you read that correctly. Night court.
What is night court?
It’s not just a sitcom that aired for ten seasons. It is a real thing!
Once a week every county in New York City’s five boroughs has night court, which is generally reserved for small claims cases. Now, most attorneys would cringe at doing small claims work, the cases are for $5,000 or less! They probably think that time of work is beneath them.
Night court has given me an abundance of experience.
What is relevant is that almost every week I get to do a trial. Almost every week I get to do an arbitration. And every week I get to settle cases as well.
Because the cases are of such low amounts the entire case usually gets heard, cross-examined, and debated that night. Not only that, but the disputes range from breach of contract (usually when someone doesn’t pay invoices), to property damage (for car accidents), or even suits against the airlines for botching up flights.
There is no shortage of the different types of facts you’re going to hear. This variation in fact patterns and sheer randomness of disputed topics has forced me to think on my feet and to be able to argue my position in a split second. These skills are necessary to be an effective litigator. I hone my craft every week, which is not something every attorney can state.
Navigating the different types of courts, including small claims, has also allowed me to have the ability and knowledge to help other attorneys.
Night court has given me the knowledge and experience to give out advice!
For example, I got a call the other day from an in-house counsel. He relayed a fact pattern where his company wasn’t getting paid on their invoices, but the amounts in controversy did not justify hiring an outside judgment enforcement attorney.
He asked for my advice.
So I told him to go to small claims so the company could get an expedited resolution and to cap his damages to the limit of that court, instead of suing for a little bit more in civil court (what could be a year-long process).
His reply to my advice made my day: “that’s the best advice I’ve heard yet!”
Not only did I give him “the best advice” he’s heard so far, he also asked me if I was interested in taking over should he need it.
So while small claims may seem like small potatoes to many attorneys, I’ve learned some valuable lessons in effective lawyering that have done nothing but bring me more business…
Bull would be proud.
Want more helpful tips from Virtual Office attorneys like Vivian Sobers?
Get our eBook: “Virtual Lawyers Dish: Strategies for Success”
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.