Last night I performed a short skit I wrote on the subject of professional civility in the practice of law, and particularly litigation. The presentation was with other of my lawyer colleagues in an “Inn of Court” before several judges and numerous attorneys dedicated to the highest standards in the practice of law.

My performance was near the middle of the evening, and as I observed my fellow “actor-lawyers” a realization set in. We weren’t going full out. We weren’t taking risks. We were “playing it safe,” by staying in our own characters instead of entering into the characters we were to be. The result was uninspiring and unentertaining.

By the time my part was “on stage” I had decided to just go for it. I would be the extreme representation of someone not myself in any aspect. I would be a bold expression of the persona I was to be in that situation. I would succeed or fail clearly, but at least it would not be a lukewarm effort tinged with fear. So, I was completely ghostly as a ghost, a bit stereotyped, but unmistakable. Likewise, I was a gentlemanly Southern lawyer with a heavy accent cajoling an obstreperous opponent to show some southern hospitality in setting up a schedule for expert witness depositions.

When it was over, there was applause and the current President of County Bar Association stretched out his hand to offer congratulations. Lesson learned: You do not distinguish yourself, or accomplish anything noteworthy, with a cowardly half-measured effort. Be prepared to flop, but also imagine the sweet taste of victory as well.