Off the Back” is a phrase used in competitive road cycling describing a rider dropped by the lead group who, consequently, 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. It’s difficult and lonely. Often you feel as if you’ll never catch up. Nevertheless, riding off the back does have one redeeming quality… it makes one a stronger and more determined rider.
The life of a criminal defense lawyer shares many of the characteristics of a bike rider off the back. Always preparing cases for trial, working long hours, managing a business, marketing, selling, maintaining a healthy home life, and all while providing clients the highest level of customer service is an endless struggle. Each month I will share ideas and experiences to assist my friends in the practice of law be more successful. Helping you shoulder this load and making us stronger by writing about the ubiquitous legal issues we encounter, but also writing about trial tactics, law office management, marketing a law practice, sales, technology, and other issues affecting the life of criminal lawyer.
I understand the life of a trial lawyer, probably all trial lawyers. I am, thus, not your competitor in this but your compadre. I mean to educate, enlighten, and maybe even inspire. Mostly, I want to help by sharing my practical knowledge developed over the last twenty years running a law business. And since only a trial lawyer truly understands the life of another trial lawyer, I say let’s work together “off the back” to become stronger, better informed, and more effective in the business and practice of law.
We can begin with the necessary mindset… the mindset of a warrior. “Never give up, never surrender” is Rule #13. A rule about the value of pushing forward even in the face of certain defeat. It’s our professional responsibility to fight until the end, until we have no more opportunity to fight, until we have no more energy to fight. It’s about fighting battles and wondering why we don’t win. It’s about doing our best, but coming up short. Sometimes we retreat and regroup before we can attack again. But retreating is not giving up, it is not surrender. Retreat is necessary to find our energy and our center again. Our reason for pushing forward in the face of uncertainty and even defeat. We all need something pushing us from behind and pulling us from the front to keep up the good fight. It’s Rule #13. There will be no giving up! There will be no surrender!
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 a retired amateur bicycle racer.