I welcomed in 2020 by reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned from the mistakes I’ve made as a new lawyer. When I became an attorney, I had hoped that I would learn from other people’s mistakes so that I could avoid learning similar lessons. As life would have it, there are some lessons that you have to learn for yourself.
As they say, 20/20 hindsight vision is everything. If only we knew then what we know now. If only we could have made different decisions. It’s so easy to get caught up on the what ifs, could haves and should haves, but we need to focus on the lessons that can be learned from the mistakes we have made. It is inevitable that we will make mistakes as new lawyers. I think it’s almost expected. Some mistakes are small and easily corrected. Other mistakes are bigger and seem too difficult to fix. But learning from those mistakes will make you a better attorney.
I know it sounds cliché, but our mistakes are learning opportunities. As the author Frank Sonnenberg said, “We can’t do anything to improve our past, but we can learn from it to improve our future.” With time, our mistakes will be resolved (big or small), but we forget to reflect on the lessons that we learned from the experience so that we can apply them to the future so that we don’t make the same mistake twice.
Every situation that we face is an opportunity for us to learn. As you step into 2020, take some time to think about the learning experiences and the lessons you learned from the previous year. Let them be your guide to improve your future actions.
Amanda N. Odorimah is managing attorney at AO Law LLC in Bowie.