Volume 3, Number 2 • April 2005

 The Old Man’s Words of Wisdom

Traveling Can Be a Real Trip

I’m flying around again—yep, that’s me, the local bar association’s frequent flyer. The second week in February and I’m already on my fifteenth flight.

I love to travel. And it makes me a better lawyer. Now, you say, is this man crazy or what? What does traveling have to do with practicing law? Everything—I see that the experiences I bring to my cases are a direct result of my experience outside the law.

First, everywhere I go I check out the local talent—not the ladies, but to see how the small firms in the areas I’m visiting advertise, how they have their offices set up, signage, etc. The boldest advertising seems to be on the west coast. The tamest is in small towns on the east coast. I read their ads: what they say and how they promote themselves. Just reading an ad tells you something about the practice: hours, location, use of paralegals, experience. That helps with your practice management and development.

I also read the local papers—even in Mexico or Rome where I didn’t understand the language. Photos and stories highlight issues that you may face in your community latter. I remember reading about a story when traveling in San Diego dealing with a property tax issue. When I came home as a school lawyer, I helped raise over $1 million in increased revenue for the districts in my county by establishing the same type of program. Of course, since no one had “done it before” here, it was challenged through the courts. I remember one appellant judge saying that what “we” were doing was a “clever” way to turn over 30 years of jurisprudence around. They affirmed the program 5-2. I really wasn’t clever. I just copied what I learned traveling.

Traveling gives you a broader view of the world. You see and hear things differently. Being exposed to different ideas changes you. Talking to people from different areas gives you a different prospective on life.

Got some time? Take a trip. All the airlines have e-savers. Fly out Saturday morning and come back Sunday or Monday. Just a few days are enough. Don’t view it as a vacation (you’ll not stay long enough). View it as a break and educational experience.

—William G. Schwab, now learning the law for more than 27 years


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