Desperation isn’t the greatest trait to display if you’re trying to meet a mate. But if you want to succeed in starting a law firm, desperation, or more accurately, the willingness to do something absolutely desperate to bail out a case or save your firm can serve you well. I was reminded of the power of desperation when I read this article about a woman who dove into a disgusting fast food dumpster to salvage her thesis. Yes, she should have had a back up copy so the mess was partly her fault anyway. But sometimes in the practice of law, things go wrong despite our best efforts: a client may neglect to tell us a critical fact until the eve of trial or a major client that accounts for a huge portion of our business may choose another lawyer or our practice area may dry up due to regulatory or legal changes. Any of these events can put us in a desperate situation from which it seems there’s no escape. We can allow our desperation to overcome us – or like the dumpster-diving grad student, we can use our desperation to overcome our circumstances. It’s been my experience that the solo and small firm lawyers who’ve got it in them to take the latter path almost always succeed.
I’ve got my own tales of desperation, one of which involves tears, a bribe and a lecherous loser whom I mistook for a prospective client. I’d rather not reveal more than that. But if you have a story of desperation that you want to share to inspire the rest of us in this holiday season, post away in comments below.