Q: Is perfectionism a plus or a minus for a lawyer?
A: Although many lawyers are perfectionists…thinking that to be right is the ultimate client service and that being right requires certitude that all stones have been turned…that thinking is fallacious, in my view and, at times, dangerous. Clients want sound answers to solve their problems or protect their rights, even if risks are attendant. They don’t always need perfect answers and rarely want to pay for scorched earth lawyering. Perfectionism also can cause writers’ blocks, lack of confidence in one’s opinions, depression or irritability, lengthy delays in coming to conclusions, and the inability to bring projects to a close. All these outgrowths of perfectionism can result in a less than perfect reputation and, ultimately, even the loss of your job.
“Strive for excellence, not perfection,” as H. Jackson Brown Jr. and others have said, is advice with which I agree.