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#306: How to Be a More Confident Lawyer

Almost every lawyer wants to know how to be more confident whether it's in the courtroom, on the phone with a client or in negotiations with opposing counsel.

But true confidence isn't what you think.

And to build confidence, it takes understanding your brain and its current habits of thinking before you can rewire it to be more confident.

In this episode you'll discover what it takes to feel truly confident no matter what challenges you're facing in your practice.

You'll learn:

  • The difference between confidence and self-confidence
  • One of the biggest problems I see with lawyers who want to feel more confident (it's not what you think)
  • An exercise to help you uncover where you can boost your self-confidence and perform more confidently

PLUS, I've created a Self-Confidence Playbook that you can download and use hand-in-hand with this episode.

Listen in to become a more confident attorney no matter what area of law you practice.

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Your support means the world to me and allows the work I'm doing here to reach more lawyers.

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How to Be a More Confident Lawyer

Have you ever wished that you felt confident walking into a room that you could do no wrong, that you felt totally self-possessed? Well, today I wanna share with you what confidence truly means, and I want to distinguish for you the difference between confidence and self-confidence. And then I'm going to walk you through an exercise that will help you bring awareness to any area of your life where you're not feeling confident, and start to build your confidence from there.

Hello. Okay, so after I recorded this episode, I realized that the exercise that I'm walking you through has a really big visual component to it, and I want you to have that visual. So I've created a guide for you that you can use in conjunction with this episode. It's called the Self-Confidence Playbook.

You can download it In that playbook, I'm laying out the exercise that I talk you through in this episode, but it's not gonna have all of the nuance that this particular episode has. So it's very important that if you download that playbook, that you listen to this full episode, I walk you through the model. And even if you're familiar with the model, I want you to really listen in because if you haven't had any training in the model, it's really easy to lose the nuance or not have that nuance.

And I want you to have it because that's the only way this exercise will work. This is an exercise I walk through my clients with. I help them with self-confidence. So I want you to be able to have this tool for yourself to bring that awareness to you so you can download that self-confidence playbook at Enjoy. Hello, how are you doing today? Today I wanna talk to you about confidence and doesn't it feel good even just thinking about feeling confident? But we don't often really bring our conscious awareness to what confidence is and what it truly means. And there are two definitions of confidence. I wanna bring your awareness to confidence. How we usually think about it is being able to do something like go into trial or step onto a stage and do a speech, or be able to confidently articulate our thoughts to a client.

Those kinds of things that you do. Certain actions that you do can be ones where you feel confident in doing them, but they are actions that you've gotta practice over and over and over again in order to feel confident doing those things. And we tend to confuse self-confidence with confidence where we're just practicing actions. So for instance, when you're driving down the street, you can confidently estimate, do I have time to make it through this yellow light before it turns red? You are making a confident estimation and you're just going for it, right? Is that just me? <Laugh>. But I also wanna share with you that when you were doing something over and over again, let's say you started off doing a consult, right? You started with consults, you'd never done them before, and then you felt no confidence whatsoever. But then as you practice them, as you started to understand your clients better, as you started to understand their problems better and their objections better, you were better able to have conversations with them.

And the more you practice that, the more confident you felt having that conversation with them. So it didn't feel like you were nervous, you didn't have a lot of self-doubt. You just started entering those conversations and feeling better about them, feeling more confident about them. Or if you're stepping in front of a jury for the first time, the very first time you step in front of a jury, if you're not nervous, wow, how many times <laugh>, how many times have you done that before? Right? Everybody has that background though, right? They, if you feel confident walking in front of a jury for the first time, that means you've had lots of experience over a lifetime of speaking in front of people, of articulating your thoughts. So if that feels very natural to you, it never did come natural to you. You, you practiced it in somewhere in your life.

Now, for most of us, we have felt nervous walking in front of a jury, and we have felt nervous. Let's say for example I'll give you an example for me is like when I first started doing video maybe six years ago, I felt totally nervous about doing video. Let me tell you, I didn't. There was so much self-doubt, right? But what I did is I just practiced and I kept practicing and I kept going and I kept going, and I kept going. And the more I did it, the more I started feeling more confident that I knew what I was doing. I started really believing that I knew what I was doing because I did. I had practiced it so many times. So that kind of confidence is built over time. It's like if you started day one in law school, you didn't feel confident that you knew things, but then by the end of your time in law school, you're like, okay, like I can figure this out.

Like this is, this isn't gonna be horrible. I can figure this out. But now I wanna share with you what I think is even more powerful. And that is the ability to consciously build our self-confidence, the belief in ourselves that we can figure anything out no matter what. Even if we're walking into a courtroom, never having done anything in a courtroom before that we will be able to figure it out and it's okay. Like we don't have to know everything right now and understand that, yeah, maybe I'll make some mistakes, but then I keep going. And for me, when I think about self-confidence, that's really having courage and believing in yourself because you're going to feel scared. You are going to feel nervous, and that's okay. But self-confidence is about not letting that fear or that nervousness prevent you from creating what you want.

And I think that when we think about confidence, we think we're supposed to feel like we know everything, right? That we're supposed to be able to walk into a courtroom day one and just command the stage, right? Or we're supposed to walk into a consult and we're supposed to immediately have this amazing rapport with people and be able to anticipate what their objections are. That's simply not the case when it comes to self-confidence, self-confidence is something that we can practice, that we can get better at. And it's something that we may never feel a hundred percent. Like we know everything. In fact, we never will. Let me just, let me just give you that hint, because we won't know everything. And I know that there are some of you like listening right now that might think you need to know more, that you need to study more, that you need to have another degree in something, that you need to have some different letters behind your name.

I want you to, to share with you. That's simply not the case. Because what self-confidence is, is you walking into situations and being a little nervous. And you know what saying, but I'm gonna do it anyway. And for the client that I was working with on this particular topic, I was distinguishing between these two different types of confidence. Confidence from applying yourself really to actions and doing those actions over and over again. And self-confidence, that kind where we really find inside ourselves. And she had told me that she had some imposter syndrome, that she really felt like she didn't know enough, and that when she walked into certain rooms, she wasn't feeling confident. And so what I shared with her, this is one exercise I gave her, is to start looking in your life to where you're already confident. And specifically, where are you a leader in your practice area?

Where are people coming up to you, asking you questions, looking to you for advice, for recommendations? Because I want your brain to see that you already are so confident in so many different areas, right? That confidence from taking actions over and over again, right? You have that confidence. And then let's go into self-confidence. Where in your life do you not know the answer? Do you not know how to do something? And you say, okay, well, I'm gonna figure it out. You know, it's okay that I don't know it and, and we're gonna work it out and we're gonna figure it out together. And my client's answer was daily. And that certainly was the case for me in my practice too, because in the law we aren't expected to know everything. I know, I know there might be a few of you that are arguing with me in your head right now saying, no, no, no, I've gotta know everything.

But when you think about the realistic expectation of yourself, is your expectation of yourself to have all the law books memorized? Is it to have all of the pages tabbed in witkin <laugh>, that that have to do with your practice area? Is it to 100% of the time be right? Because if that's your goal, you are gonna be disappointed with yourself for the rest of your life. You are going to be hard on yourself. You are going to kick yourself every time you don't have an answer, and you are gonna make your life miserable. Being a lawyer is not about having all of the answers all the time. It's about knowing where to look. It's about having the self-confidence to say, you know, I don't have the answer to that, but I will look it up. I will find the answer for you. Or, Hey, let's find the answer together.

Or, you know, what, can you let me call you back because I gotta grab the file and I wanna make sure I give you a clear response on that one. So this is what self-confidence is, is being willing to admit that you don't know something and to be willing to really create a solution. That's what self-confidence is. And if you go into a courtroom, any courtroom, and you're sitting at counsel table and you have a judge asking you questions, and you have like 50% of the answers, 80% of the answers, 90% of the answers, right? You're doing what you can in that moment and you're learning from it, right? So one part of it is building your confidence because you're learning what capabilities you have and you're learning which capabilities you want to build, right? Those are actions that you're gonna be taking to improve yourself.

And the more you practice sitting in front of a judge, the easier it's going to be to respond to questions. And the more you're going to be able to anticipate questions from a judge, and the more that you're gonna be able to really see and hear the softball questions that the judge is asking you and answer them accordingly, right? That's one part experience, right? Of confidence of repeating actions over and over again. But then there's the self-confidence aspect of walking into a courtroom because a judge can ask you a question that you did not even anticipate came outta left field. And in that moment, you have a choice. You can sit there and freeze. You can say, I don't know, your honor. You can say, oh yeah, I totally know the answer. And just pull something out of your behind and lead someone down in, in a, in a very unethical <laugh> manner to pretend that you know something that you don't.

Or you can say, your Honor, I don't have the answer to that question, but I can look it up. And based on what I do understand of the case law, it doesn't seem like it would be a fair result for what it is that you've just described. But I wanna make sure that I have the case law on that. I just don't believe that that would be the case. So you have options, but which one you choose is going to be based on what you believe about yourself, what you believe about yourself is gonna determine your self-confidence. And when you have that self-confidence, you're very able to say and be honest when you don't know something and then say, but we're gonna figure it out. Or, I know where to look. So just understand that there is a difference. There's a difference between taking actions over and over again and them being faced with a brand new situation, which you always will as a lawyer.

So if you expect yourself to know everything and you think that knowing everything is going to build self-confidence, you're in for a very rude awakening. Because if you aren't very honest with yourself that you can't know everything, then you'll never be able to build that self-confidence. And so that was something that when I was talking to my client around this topic, we talked about how she could build self-confidence for herself in a very particular situation. So I'm gonna walk you through that exercise, but I want you to keep in mind right now that you know it's kind, it's difficult 'cause I can't coach you on a podcast <laugh>. I can't talk you through an issue that you're having on a podcast <laugh>. But I want to give you something here to build that awareness. 'cause When you start building the awareness around where you're lacking self-confidence, and then start to think through this model that I'm gonna give you and how it applies to you, then you'll be able to practice it and you'll be able to, to have that awareness so you can build that self-confidence.

So before we start these, this exercise, I wanna ask you this question and you've gotta answer it. 'cause That's the only way this <laugh> this exercise is gonna work. Where in your life do you feel self-doubt? Do you feel not enough? Do you feel shame because you don't know enough where or do you just feel just very small, right? You feel very small. I want you to ask yourself that question because the answer to that question is going to be part of that ex part of this exercise. So when I asked my client this, she said specifically when she went into her trial partner's office, that she would offer up a strategy in trial and then her trial partner would respond, no, I don't wanna go that way, or No, that's, that's not the way I wanna go with this one. And so that response, that those words that the trial partner said would then filter into her head and her brain would make it mean that she didn't know what she was doing.

And then she would feel shame. And then the action she would take would be to either fall silent or to just go blank, right? She would just totally go blank. So any explanation the trial partner offered for their, their decision to say no, she couldn't absorb it. She wasn't able to retain any of it, and she couldn't necessarily articulate questions in a way that made sense. So she wasn't getting what she needed from that interaction in order to improve herself and her trial skills. So the result was, is that she never got better. What I wanna share with you is that this, if you're feeling self-doubt somewhere in your life, I, I wanna share with you that there's something happening right now in your brain. Your brain is making it means something about you, and it's creating self-doubt. So let, let me walk you through this particular part of the exercise and then we're gonna walk you into the next part of the exercise to help build that self-confidence that's gonna get you a better result.

So let's get really specific here. So if you're familiar with the model, you've got a circumstance, a thought, a feeling, actions or inaction and a result. So there's five parts of the model. A circumstance is incredibly specific. So it can't just be I walk into a room, it's like, I like what is it that, what is it that is happening? Let me see. So for this particular situation, her trial partner said words to her, and we got really specific about the words. Okay? So let me, let me give you some examples so that you can pick out a circumstance for you. So if you are dealing with consults and you notice yourself kind of freezing at one particular part of the consult, what part of the consult is that? Is it when money comes up? And what specifically is happening? Is are what words is the client saying?

Like, are, is the client saying I can't afford it, or I have to talk to my husband? Like, where in your brain do you notice that there's some kind of trigger and you don't, you, you feel like some sort of shame. You feel kind of small in that moment. Or maybe you're on a client call and your client client says certain words to you, or opposing counsel says certain words to you, and you notice yourself feeling small. You notice yourself feeling self-doubt. I want you to get really specific on this. Again, this is really tough for me because I can't coach you on this and this is how the model works. It can't be too vague. So get really specific. What are the words, specific words somebody is saying to you? What specifically is happening in that moment where you notice you're feeling small or shame?

Okay? Now I want you to ask yourself, what is your brain making it mean when that specific circumstance happens? That's gonna be your thought, right? Because our brain is constantly making meanings of things. So you're gonna think about, okay, what exactly am I thinking in that moment? And you might tell yourself, well, I just freeze. I don't think anything, but that's actually gonna go under the action line. And we'll talk about that in a minute. What's really going on is your brain is saying something. So for example, if you're in a console and you notice yourself freezing, and it's right when the client says, oh, you know, I'm gonna have to talk to my husband about that, or, oh, you know, I'm not sure if that's, if this is the right thing for me, then you're gonna ask yourself, what am I making that mean?

Because even if you're not consciously thinking that thought in the moment, it's happening subconsciously. And so what we wanna do is we wanna shine a light on it. So ask yourself, what am I thinking in that moment when, when she says those words, what am I thinking? Well, I'm probably thinking that she's not gonna buy or she can't afford it. And what does that mean? Right? Oh, well then that means I'm not gonna make the sale and I'm not gonna be able to pay rent this month. <Laugh>, right? Like, notice what's going on in your head. What are you making it mean? What is the interpretation your brain is having in that moment when an opposing counsel calls you up on the phone and says, Hey, do you think you'd be able to do this in a negotiation? And you, if you freeze, or if you feel self-doubt in that moment, why do you think that is?

What is it you are making those words mean about you? What are you making that specific situation mean about you or your abilities, your capabilities? Okay, so we really wanna understand that. Remember in this client example, what was happening is that she would walk into her trial partner's office, offer up a suggestion on strategy, and then the specific words that then would come back to her from her trial partner were, no, I don't wanna go in that direction. And when she heard those words, she would freeze. And that is where she was feeling that shame, that self-doubt, that feeling smallness, that was when that was happening. So we gotta really pinpoint this. Once you have that pinpointed, you're filling in the blanks, right? So you have your circumstance, you've got your very specific thing that's happening in the world that your brain is responding to.

You've got your brain's thoughts on the matter, and then you've got the feeling which is feeling small maybe some shame, self doubt or not enoughness. Then what are you doing in that moment? Well, what you're doing, that action line might be freezing, it might be not asking any follow up questions, right? That's an action slash inaction. It all goes in that line. You may not be able to really articulate anything in that moment, or you, you have this like urge to ask something, but then you don't, or maybe you become kind of pushy, maybe you become a little more aggressive with the person, right? Just kind of noticing what are the actions I take with those words? So when my client was having that self-doubt moment when she walked into that office and she heard those words like, no, I don't wanna go in that direction.

The actions she was taking was shutting down. She was not retaining information because she was frozen. She wasn't asking questions or she didn't, or if she asked questions, she would notice. She would stutter a little bit and she wouldn't really get them out in a confident way. So then we've got those four lines filled out for you. We've got the circumstance, the thought, the feeling, the action. So what is the result you're creating? Now, this is always going to relate to you. It has nothing to do with the person that you're talking to. It has nothing to do with anything but you and what you are actively creating in your life. Because remember, you are a powerful creator in your life. Go back and listen to that episode. I will link to it in the show notes. But you are creating everything in your life, whether it's subconsciously or consciously.

You are creating it in your life. What we wanna do is we wanna make it conscious so that you can understand where you are giving away your power to somebody else and take it back for yourself. So what are you doing? So in this particular situation with my client, she was creating the result of not becoming a better trial attorney, right? She was, she was taking actions that were inconsistent with her goal of becoming a better trial attorney. And so for you, what result are you creating? Are you creating the result of not becoming a better advocate for your client? Because if you're in a consult and you're noticing that you're freezing and they have questions and you can't answer them and you're not asking questions and engaging in a conversation, you're not able to be at your best to help your client, you are not able to help them see what it is they truly want because you can't ask them questions.

And if you can't ask them questions, you can't get to the bottom of what's going on. Maybe it's not in their best interest to work with you. But how do you know? It's not until you start asking questions or if you're in negotiations with opposing counsel and you're freezing and you're not asking questions, or maybe you're just giving into whatever opposing counsel wants. You are not being your best advocate in your practice for your clients. You're not ensuring that your clients are getting the best deal possible. And just remember it's always gonna be reflected on you, the result, right? And the result is always going to reflect the thought. So any thought that you're having is going to then create your result. In my client's case, again, when she was hearing the words, no, that's not the direction I wanna go. And she thought, I don't know what I'm doing, her result was then I'm not actually becoming a better trial attorney.

So of course she didn't actually know what she was doing because she wasn't creating the situation in which she could become a better trial attorney. This is the essence of the model. I teach it to all of my clients because it is freaking magic. And when I learned that all of my thoughts were creating my results, it allowed me to just even getting the awareness, even just understanding that it wasn't something wrong with me, that there <laugh>, there wasn't some malfunction happening. That this was just a habit that my brain got into doing, where it would have certain thoughts when certain things in the world would happen. And then when I started understanding that, oh, whenever a happened in the world, I would have B thought and then I would feel C. And then when I felt C, I would take D actions and that would create e results.

Like, oh, oh, my thoughts are creating that. Oh, I get it. So if you're noticing you're not feeling self-confident in certain areas, this is like your magic formula to understand why and when you understand why, it makes it so much easier to say, oh, I get it. My brain's just having this thought and it's creating this result. So now how do you improve that? How do you move from that unintentional model that your brain is creating, that unintentional result that your brain is creating to an intentional result, one where you have more self-confidence? So this is what I worked with my client on. And so I want you to know the circumstance, first of all, stays completely the same. We are not changing the outside world. We are changing ourselves from the inside out. And this changes everything. So with my client, I reminded her, okay, the circumstance isn't changing, he's still not gonna agree with your stra trial strategy.

Now what <laugh>, so now you've got the same situation on your hand, but we wanna do it a different way. We're gonna approach it a little bit differently here. So pay attention. You've got your old unintentional model and that's what's gotten you the results you have so far. Now we're gonna look at your intentional model and your intentional model's gonna start out with the circumstance at the top of your, your list, it's gonna look exactly the same. It's gonna say the words that client told me, the words that opposing counsel told me, the exact circumstance that happened, that's gonna stay the same. But what result do you wanna create that's different in your life? So for my client, the result that she wanted to create was that she became a better trial attorney, right? And then remember, the result is always gonna be about you.

The result is not gonna be, well, my client's gonna start saying different words. Opposing counsel's gonna behave differently to me. Or, you know, x results gonna be the judge is gonna be nicer, right? No, the result is about us. Like what are we actively creating in our life? And for my client, she wanted to go from her unintentional model of not becoming a better trial attorney to an intentional model of becoming a better trial attorney. So what is it that you want? Do you wanna become better at your consults? Do you want to notice that you have a, a better consult rate of closure? Do you want to notice that you are more calm <laugh> when you're with an opposing counsel? Those are different results and they're all about you. So now to create that result, what actions do you have to do? What do you have to do differently?

So for my client, she recognized that if she wanted to become a better trial attorney, when her, when her trial partner said, no we don't, we're not gonna go that way. What she would have to do differently is that she would need to really listen. She'd need to be present and listen to what they had to say. And then she needed to really just sit with her emotions. Like even if she was uncomfortable, she just had to sit with them and then ask questions. Anyway, she would go down, you know, the hall when she was done and she would write down whatever it was that needed to be done next, right? So she just created that action plan in her head. She's like, okay, so I'll listen. 'cause Right now I'm not listening 'cause I'm freezing. And then I'm gonna really have a back and forth with them.

I'm gonna ask questions and really be open about it and it's gonna be okay. Even if I don't feel really comfortable, I'm still gonna ask the questions. 'cause They, I need to have that back and forth. So then we ask ourselves, how do you need to feel in your body in order to take those actions? So for her, she needed to feel open. She needed to feel like she was like just open and receptive. And so for her, we kind of experimented with some different thoughts that created that feeling. And one of the thoughts we landed on, or she landed on was, they just want me to learn. We wanna do that same exercise for you to create a better result in your life. So go into your actions. What actions do you need to do differently in order to create that result in your life that you wrote down, that intentional result?

Tell me what you gotta do differently. Write it down. Do you need to be better at feeling uncomfortable and allowing discomfort? That's a big one. And I, and so many of us ignore that one I did for a really long time. And if we ignore that need to feel discomfort in order to improve, we're not gonna improve as quickly as we could. So that's one thing. Maybe if your goal is to improve on consults, it's to really sit down and write down all of the potential objections that a client could have to purchasing your services. Or if it's with an opposing counsel, maybe what you do is you sit down and you say, okay, what is it that I want for my client? What are, what are the goals my client has in that particular case? So you're not giving away the farm, right?

So think about what it is that you need to do differently. Are there questions you need to ask? What do you need to ask specifically, right? Write it all down. Once you do, ask yourself this question, how do I need to feel, feel in order to take those actions? Do you need to feel calm? Do you need to feel quiet? Do you need to feel open or curious? It's going to be a feeling that feels more expansive. Okay? It's not gonna feel like self-doubt. It's not gonna feel like shame. It's gonna feel more expansive. It's going to feel very light. And so I just want you to check in with yourself. What feeling do you need to feel? And I, I know this is really easy to skip over. I know sometimes it's hard to connect with our emotions 'cause it takes practice doing this.

Okay? That's why I work with my clients one-on-one. 'cause This has not come naturally to us. But until you tap into that emotion, you're not gonna be able to change things in your life. And that is huge. When you tap into that emotion, you will be able to change everything. So now that you have that emotion written down, what thought do you need to believe, truly believe in order to feel that and find one that you believe now, not one where you're like wishful thinking it, right? Because if my client were to say like, oh, I feel amazing when I walk into my trial partner's office and I'm just so smart and this is just he loves me, right? If she created a thought like that, she wouldn't be able to create a feeling of openness that would allow her to take the actions that she wanted to take so she could create the intentional result.

So you've gotta do the same thing for you, depending on your specific circumstance, what is it that you need to be thinking? What is it that you need to believe about the specific circumstances in order to feel what it is you need to feel so that you will take the new actions to create the new result? Because that is what needs to be practiced. And it's not going to feel like that step on stage. I've practiced it a million times kind of confidence. It's gonna feel like that. Okay, I can figure this out. Kind of confidence. You still feel strong, you still feel centered, you still know that you know what you're doing, but you're not expecting yourself to know everything. And that's something that cuts into so many of us lawyers is believing we need to know everything. But you don't need to know everything.

You just need to know where to look. And so often it's just within ourselves, right? Yeah, the legal stuff, it's all in the books, it's all online. But what we really need to do is look into ourselves and say, ah, yeah, like I totally, I can figure this out. And yeah, I don't know all the answers, but that's okay 'cause I know where to find them. Alright? So that's what I have to offer you on confidence versus self-confidence and really tapping into that exercise to help you find not only the awareness of what's going on in your life right now, but then to begin creating that intentional model for you. And if you want to do this work, one-on-one, if you really wanna accelerate your progress in this, if you really wanna tap in to what I've been teaching in this podcast and apply it in your life, book a strategy session with me, book at

What we do, one-on-one is so powerful. You and I are going to be able to create a plan to not only build more confidence in your practice, but really apply it building that self-confidence, that inner confidence, that inner knowing that you can handle anything. Whether it has to do with your finances, whether it has to do with opposing counsel, your clients going into a courtroom, strategizing cases. We are gonna work together to create what you want. Alright my friend, I hope you have a beautiful rest of your week and I'll talk to you soon. Bye.

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