This article was originally printed in the September 2019 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Today – click here to read the full version now.


Does this sound familiar? A response to a client you’ve been working on is due today. It’s getting late. You are tired, stressed out, and frustrated. You are feeling the pressure of the approaching deadline. You’ve already poured hours and hours of work into your response and reviewed it more times than you can count. And each time you’ve found something that you wanted to change, improve, or make just a little better. To make it perfect.

Finally, you send it out. But instead of feeling relief, you continue to feel worried and stressed out: “What will the client think? Did I cover everything? What if I missed something?” You are completely drained and exhausted, but can’t seem to stop the thoughts from swirling in your head.

If this scenario repeats itself too often in your life (whether professional or personal), chances are you suffer from perfectionism.

Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by a propensity for being displeased with anything that is not flawless or does not meet extremely high standards. This is often accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations, concerns regarding others’ evaluations, and feelings of worry.

In the profession that prides itself on accuracy and precision, where one mistake can impact a lawyer’s professional reputation or the life or business of a client, the stakes are high. And as a lawyer, you realize that a drive for perfection can create a high-quality product.

But the question is: at what cost?


To your success!