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IndyBar: Building More Than Muscle: Mottos Applied To Practice

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By Scott Oliver, Lewis & Kappes PC

oliver-scott-mug Oliver

In virtually all aspects of life, positive reinforcement of healthy behaviors can be transformative and help build a foundation for success. My outlet has always been weight training. In fact, lifting weights has developed more than just my physique – it has transformed the way I think, work, and approach nearly every situation.

As members of the Indiana Bar, we can all use the following fitness-related mottos to guide how we shape our practice, represent our clients, and tackle difficult situations on a daily basis.

One More Rep

I am sure you have heard someone say this in the gym. It might have been you or the loud guy standing next to you as he screams to his buddy to finish a set. The idea of “one more rep” translates seamlessly into the practice of law. It doesn’t matter if you are writing a brief, advocating for your client in court, or negotiating a settlement–one more rep means you exceed expectations.

As a teenager, one more rep was a means to get bigger, stronger, or to impress my friends. Now, as I represent clients, interact with coworkers, and build upon my relationships, the idea of one more rep has taken on an entirely different meaning. When you think the job is done, go one step further. As attorneys, we should never settle (no pun intended) for “just enough” when representing our clients. Do you want to see results? Go one step further and exceed expectations.

Results Take Time

Picture yourself or someone you know when they first joined a gym. Unless they were blessed with a perfect physique, there were probably aspects that they wanted to improve. It is common for individuals to set goals and quit prematurely because they are not seeing results. This is especially true when it comes to exercising. At the turn of the New Year, people across the world flock to gyms to start their resolutions. Unfortunately, the hordes of hopefuls diminish within the coming months, partly because they do not see results.

Whether it is losing weight, gaining muscle, closing a case, or striving to make partner, success does not come in a day. In fact, success might not come for a week, month, or even years! The key is understanding that building yourself, developing your relationships, and cultivating a positive mindset takes time. In short, success is not built overnight. However, if you recognize this concept and work each day to improve yourself and your surroundings, results will follow.

Balance Your Routine

We all know someone who skips leg day. The person has a huge chest, boulder-like shoulders, and pumped arms. Essentially, nobody notices your quads and hamstrings, but your arms are always on display. Therefore, you focus on what others see and neglect the muscles behind the scenes.

Life is about balance – you can’t only focus on one aspect and expect others not to suffer. For example, you could work 18 hours a day and keep your eyes glued to your phone for the next e-mail. However, it is likely that your relationships, hobbies, and overall enjoyment of life will diminish. The truth is, a balanced life is not only a happier life, but it also breeds success. You should always be a great worker/professional (do one more rep), but don’t forget to train legs (spend time with family, get involved with the community, help a friend, etc.).

Never Be Afraid To Ask For A Spot

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Can I get a spot? In all seriousness, there are times during your workout routine when you need a spot. The weight might be too heavy, you might be going for that extra rep, or perhaps you simply need someone to motivate you to keep going. Whatever the reason, a spotter can serve many purposes and help take your workout routine to the next level. If you have spent any time in the gym, you know that there is never a shortage of people willing to give you advice or lend you a hand.

In life, you have different “spotters” to guide you through various situations. Some spotters are more obvious than others, such as your parents, friends, mentors, and family members. However, it is important to appreciate the new spotters who enter your life as you build your legal career.

In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to not ask for help. Although we all like to believe that we know everything, the truth is that we know very little. Fortunately, there are peers and mentors who are eager to pass on their knowledge and help develop your knowledge and skills. Whether you are attempting a new maximum lift, writing your first brief, dealing with a difficult case, or looking for ways to improve and build your practice – books and education can only get you so far. Reach out to someone, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and perhaps most importantly . . . say thank you.

Raise The Bar

Your back is flat on the bench and you might have overestimated yourself in terms of the amount of weight on the bar. You lift off, bring the bar down to your chest, and quickly realize that the weight is heavier than you anticipated. Your face is red from the pressure and you start to sweat. Can you push it up? You focus your eyes, plant your heels into the ground, and push. Fortunately, the bar slowly raises from your chest and you are able to rack the weight.

To me, raising the bar means setting high expectations and holding yourself and others to those standards. Whether you are looking to increase the weight on the bench, nail your opening statement, or draft the perfect contract – raise the bar and perform. This motto sums up the previous sections because it ultimately means to do better in every aspect of life. You should set high goals and refuse to limit yourself. When you reach those goals, set the bar a little higher and repeat. We only have a limited amount of time in this world. It is important to always keep pushing and challenging ourselves to reach the next level.

Although it might sound cliché, weight lifting has changed my life. As a teenager, lifting weights kept me away from negative influences and allowed me to grow as an athlete. In college, the persistence and dedication I developed for working out translated into my studies and community involvement.

Now, all of these benefits continue, but I am also able to reflect on the profound lessons my hobby has taught me. Always do one more rep, recognize that results take time, strive for balance in all aspects of life, don’t be afraid to ask for a spot, and continually raise the bar to new heights.•

Scott Oliver is an associate attorney in the commercial lending and litigation practice groups at Lewis & Kappes PC.

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  1. The voices of the prophets are more on blogs than subway walls these days, Dawn. Here is the voice of one calling out in the wilderness ... against a corrupted judiciary ... that remains corrupt a decade and a half later ... due to, so sadly, the acquiescence of good judges unwilling to shake the forest ... for fear that is not faith .. http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2013/09/prof-alan-dershowitz-on-indiana.html

  2. So I purchased a vehicle cash from the lot on West Washington in Feb 2017. Since then I found it the vehicle had been declared a total loss and had sat in a salvage yard due to fire. My title does not show any of that. I also have had to put thousands of dollars into repairs because it was not a solid vehicle like they stated. I need to find out how to contact the lawyers on this lawsuit.

  3. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  4. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  5. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

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