Carolyn Elefant publishes her own blawg - My Shingle - and is also a columnist at law.com's Small Firm Business. Her most recent column Ask a Simple Question deals with the matter of lawyers being reluctant to ask for help, and it is very timely to one of the purposes of this blog: lawyers helping lawyers, and the need for lawyers to ask for help.
As I indicated in this post at the PRACDL Blog, the very idea for starting TrialPrep came from my having met with a fellow defense attorney who was getting ready to try his first criminal case in federal court.
Some of the reasons for attorneys being reluctant to ask for help are described in Carolyn Elefant's column. As was indicated at the last PRACDL annual assembly, the less experienced attorneys must feel free to ask those with more experience for help, and those with more experience must be generous in their help. We reminded the less experienced attorneys how the more experienced ones were constantly brainstorming ideas and calling on each other for help.
I can recall only last summer when I was working on an important Blakely issue, and had done an enormous amount of research, drafting and redrafting, but still felt somewhat uncertain on whether my planned approach was the best. I had seen a few comments posted by noted attorney Peter Goldberger over at Sentencing Law and Policy, as well as having seen a few postings to a listserv from him. Although I had never met Peter, I decided that he was the person I should ask for help, and had the nerve to send him an email one evening. A few minutes later I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Peter and after a few more exchanged emails, felt very much assured of what path to take. I grant you that not every lawyer approaches Peter in having both great knowledge and a willingness to share, but I can assure you that many more than you might think do have plenty of knowledge and that same willingness to help others. Moreover, at times the things we are uncertain of have nothing to do with substantive aspects, but "dumb" things such as (I recall these from my first oral argument before the First Circuit) where are the lights?, where do I sit? So, please, don't be afraid to ask for help.