Firm Culture

Believe Them the First Time

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” 

Maya Angelou

I have observed that in the legal profession there are a great number of pitifully unhappy folks whose irrational hopefulness is downright impressive in a kind of twisted and sad way.

I am talking about the type of hope that lawyers cling to even when it would be clear to any impartial observer with a lick of business sense that the professional environment in which they find themselves is not consistent with their career goals.  You know, the type of people who are forever convinced that “things will get better.”

Perhaps these people have bought into the idea expressed by Edgar Allan Poe that, “false hope is nicer than no hope at all.”  Or perhaps, their insecurities bind them firmly to their firms.

I understand these folks because I was one of them for a very long time. Now I pride myself in recognizing others who are slaves to the same delusion.

I have spoken to more than a few people who described their professional situation to me and asked me whether they should stay or move on. Most of the time they already know the answer, but they have to hear it from someone who is older, wiser, objective, and more experienced. I usually qualify on at least the first criterion.

The answer is usually that they have to move on. The people who are making their professional lives miserable have been abundantly clear about who they are. They are not going to change.

The Australian fantasy author, Trudy Caravan said, “better to know the quick pain of truth than the ongoing pain of a long-held false hope.”

She was quite right. As the Australians frequently are.

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