Sorry Seth Godin – Solving a Problem In Five Minutes Isn’t Hard Work

Ordinarily, I agree with much of what Seth Godin writes. But in this post discussing the difference between a lawyer’s hard work and long work,Seth Godin gets it wrong.

Godin writes:

Long work is what the lawyer who bills 14 hours a day filling in forms does.
Hard work is what the insightful litigator does when she synthesizes four disparate ideas and comes up with an argument that wins the case–in less than five minutes.

Sorry, Seth, but that’s not how it works, at least not in my practice. For me – and I suspect, many lawyers, much long work is also hard work. If I’m asked to opine on the Commerce Clause implications of an energy policy, or come up with a way for states to implement new energy practices without running into preemption issues, I can’t just spout off an answer in five minutes. These are tough questions of first impression – and they require intricate research and hair-pulling analysis that consumes an enormous amount of time. What’s more, unlike form-filling, which can be automated or delegated to staff, dealing with novel issues requires more singular expertise which often, only the lawyer who’s been retained is able to provide.

Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t have my five minute moments. I’ve been practicing long enough that I can recommend a strategy for pursuing an appeal or managing a FERC process without taking a breath. For others, that work might be hard (just as defending against a criminal charge or disposing of an employment lawsuit might be hard for me) but when I’m dealing with my area of expertise, nothing is easier, or more rewarding.