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I was meeting with my business coach, and we were discussing my distress about having to let an employee go after a year of service. I was explaining that the employee was a nice guy, had the skills and I really thought that after a year, things would have worked out. At that point, “Dr.” Tom told me that I was hooked on Hopium. The term was new to me. It was explained that Hopium is the drug that feeds optimists like myself and drives us to believe that things, anything, can work out. “Dr.” Tom tells me that the only cure for Hopium addiction is a dose of reality.


Upon reflection, it seems like all litigators and trial lawyers MUST be addicted to Hopium. Hopium addiction is both good and bad. It’s good because it gives us a reason to wake up on the morning and fight the good fight. It’s bad because it can impair our judgment and could distort the reality of the situation.


I would argue that the good of Hopium outweighs the bad. First, there is no case or client problem that is a “slam dunk winner.” A lawyer needs to evaluate a case honestly but Hopium is necessary; otherwise, why fight?


Second, and on the flip side of the first reason, lawyers need Hopium when they deal with their adversaries. Because there is no clearly defined winner or loser, if the lawyer has a dose of Hopium before communicating with opposing counsel, perhaps he or she can convince their adversary that they have the better side of the argument.


Third, lawyers have to persuade judges and juries that their client’s position is right. A good dose of Hopium before a court appearance goes a long way. Any lawyer that has tried a case knows that a jury can see right through a lawyer that is not on Hopium.


All of this being said, don’t forget that Hopium could be distorting your perception of what is best in your business and your life. Hopium, along with a little dose of reality, is just the right mixture.