With the exception of foreign languages, I’ve always been a late bloomer. In any other country, I’m comfortable with the language about sixty days in, almost to the day. In everything else, it takes me longer than others. In law school, it wasn’t until after my second year that I figured out what I was supposed to be doing. I wasn’t comfortable until I was sitting for a third bar exam.
In my practice area, it’s similar to learning a new language. However, I’ve been working at it for five years, and have not yet been comfortable. Just like with languages, I understood the theory, but have not been able to practice it. In the last couple weeks, I’ve felt like the missionary in The Best Two Years, where he arrives in the mission field speaking some cowboy form of Dutch. In the very last scene, he gives perfect directions to a Dutch person. After speaking, he realized that he did it!
A few weeks ago, I arrived fairly unsure of my answers and feeling pretty green. Since then, I feel like I’ve been shot out of a cannon in getting up to speed on a lot of the particulars of the law. Now, I’m also more certain of my answers because I have to be. The partner that I work with is fairly busy and preoccupied, so I field many of the questions that come his way. Those questions come to me, and not to Robin, our paralegal. In fact, she always defers to one of us. In that way, I am operating without a safety net. My answers have to be clear, and most importantly, right. And I’m doing it! I feel like Benjamin as he was learning to ride his bike, “Look, I’m doing it! I can do it!”