It’s the Type of Experience that Counts

I’m reading an excellent book by Bryan Garner and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, entitled "Making Your Case."

The first page contains a profound quote by T.W. Wakeling:

"Experience is undoubtedly a great teacher, yet it may be counterproductive if what has been cultivated and refined are bad habits. The point is that excellence is the product of diligent study and application of sound principles, not simply the accumulation of time logged in . . . courts."

Wakeling’s astute observation mirrors my previous comments in a post about measuring the value of an attorney’s services. The difficulty, from a potential client’s perspective, is how to determine whether an attorney has "cultivated and refined bad habits," or whether he has diligently studied and applied sound principles. Having 20 plus years of experience does sound impressive and would lead the average person to believe that that should be enough time to achieve proficiency in any area. But there is little to no correlation in my experience between "time logged in courts" and legal ability.

I think the better approach would be to review what other clients and attorneys have said about the attorney, read articles the attorney has written about that area of law, and discover the kind of results the attorney has been able to achieve with clients like you in cases like yours.


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