Winter has given way to spring. The sun is shining, flowers are beginning to bloom and my allergies are causing me to go through tissues by the boxful. It is the time of year when a young lawyer’s thoughts naturally turn to . . . baseball.
I’m the kind of person who needs a regular distraction from the daily grind. In college, I spent more time reading non-academic political books than the textbooks my political science professors assigned. During law school, I spent an awful lot of time reading books, articles and blogs written by practicing lawyers. I’ve always been able to find some sort of hobby that augments my main focus in some way. These days, despite being fully dedicated to my clients, I need some other interest outside the law to rejuvenate me from time to time. One of my favorite distractions is baseball.
Baseball is an ideal distraction. The season is 162 games long. It doesn’t matter if you miss a game; you can read the recap and box score the next day. When I’m having a rough day, a quick glance at Hardballtalk.com (written by former lawyer Craig Calcaterra) or Fangraphs.com can help me reengage my brain and get me moving in the right direction again.
There are many lessons lawyers can learn from baseball. I’ve decided to focus on one: patience.
Baseball drives impatient people to insanity. You have to be patient to play it well and watch it without going nuts. The season is very long, so, as the pros say, you can’t get too high or too low after one win or loss. As a hitter, it usually helps to be patient and disciplined and try to wait for a pitch that you know you can hit well, as opposed to swinging wildly at the first pitch. Failure is baked into baseball. You have to be patient and ride out the slumps – that’s true for fans and players alike.
General managers have to be a lot more patient with their rosters in baseball than in some other sports because trades rarely make immediate, dramatic impacts in baseball. The roster you have today is heavily influenced by the drafting and development of players over the preceding five years or more. You have to trust the analysis provided by your scouts and your statistical analysts, trust the process that led to the plan. You learn to roll with the punches.
Similarly, learning patience is vital for a young lawyer. You will not go from law school to superstar overnight. You have to put in a lot of work. You have to constantly absorb new information. You will probably fail at some things, and if you don’t, you’re probably not challenging yourself. You have to be patient with your cases, your clients, and your career development – especially with your career development. Some people practice law for more than 40 years. You will not be their equal after four months or even four years of practice. You have to put yourself in a position where you are learning solid fundamentals and putting them into practice regularly, and trust that over time you will reap the rewards.
It won’t happen overnight. Some of your friends may get trial experience faster. Others may land a prestigious job that you coveted. But you are on your own development path. There are no shortcuts and your path to the majors may be different than someone else’s.
You have to be patient. But you also have to jump on that hanging curve ball when you see it.