My inspiration for this piece was our colleague and friend, John Gioffredi.1 John’s approach to DWI defense has changed the way I try cases. His approach is not fancy, nor terribly difficult. In fact, it uses tools of our trade that we all possess. But in one important way, John’s approach is different. Trying cases like John Gioffredi takes some courage. It compels one to shoulder additional risk. It causes us to work harder. It compels us to learn new things . . . things that may be unproven in our personal experience. Moreover, it necessitates our clients burden additional uncertainty, as well. But his system has borne fruit for many. I’ve simply become a better lawyer for it and my clients have reaped rewards, as well. The point being, thanks to John’s encouragement, I summoned the courage to try something new. Is it time for other criminal defense lawyers to do the same?
Criminal defense lawyers are, in many ways, risk averse. Whether it’s utilizing a new trial tactic, marketing a law practice differently, investing money for retirement, starting an exercise program, running for public office, or simply interacting with one’s spouse in a new way . . . . we lawyers are resistant to new things. We are human. But maybe it’s time to summon the courage to try something new. Albert Einstein was widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” In other words, if you want different results than what you’re getting, you have to try something new. But trying something new doesn’t guarantee it will work, does it? And that’s the catch. It’s fear of the unknown that holds us back, that imprisons our efforts to try. Though the fix is easy, so many cannot get past the fear of failure.
Where does the courage come from to try something new? How do we lure our pluck out into the open? Simply put, we decide ahead of time that unexpected results will be ok. It’s deciding that “failure” is part of the process. Consider breaking up your goals into smaller or more manageable pieces. Modest successes will fuel confidence. But even so, if we try and miss the mark, then so be it! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Certainly, though, the risks we take should be well-calculated beforehand. We should avoid taking foolish or unnecessary gambles. But if we desire different results in our practice (or life, in general), how can we expect to get them by doing the same old stuff? Our real failure is our failure to try.
That being the case, decide what you want. Decide to accept undesired results. Then decide to persist. Maybe you’ve been toying with the idea of making capital investments into your law practice. Maybe you want to expand your areas of practice or become board certified. Maybe you want to try DWI cases like John Gioffredi. Maybe you simply want to lose some extra weight. Whatever you desire, decide to try something new, especially if your efforts to date haven’t produced the results you want. Thank you, John, for the encouragement to try new things. Thanks for helping me lure my own courage out into the open.
1. John Gioffredi can be contacted at (214) 739-4515. His address is 4131 N. Central Expressway #680, Dallas, TX 75204. His email is [email protected]
(“Off the Back” featured in the “Voice For The Defense” July/August 2017)
Stephen Gustitis is a criminal defense lawyer in Bryan-College Station. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a husband, father, and retired amateur bicycle racer.
“Off the Back” is an expression in competitive road cycling describing a rider dropped by the lead group who has lost the energy saving benefit of riding in the group’s slipstream. Once off the back the rider struggles alone in the wind to catch up. The life of a criminal defense lawyer shares many of the characteristics of a bicycle rider struggling alone, in the wind, and “Off the Back.” This column is for them.