Experience Teaches

I am not a handy person. I have no training or knowledge in the traditional “trades”—electrical, plumbing, carpentry. But the other day, I noticed that the lights in my house were flickering. I walked down to the electrical panel and saw sparks coming out of one of the switches.

I searched for videos on the internet about this issue and found a few. I watched the videos and narrowed the videos down to one that I thought applied to my problem.

I have a few tools around my house, so I grabbed the tools the presenter in the video used and tackled the electrical arching in my fuse panel. Electricians are expensive, and it is hard to find an electrician who will even come to your house since the pandemic started.

Did this really happen? If you knew me, you would know that there is not a chance I would do any of this. I am not handy. I do not know anything about electricity—other than there is not a chance I would mess with electricity. It is dangerous, and you typically do not know how extremely dangerous it is until it is too late.

If I had a pain in my side, I would not google “what does appendicitis feel like,” then watch a video on surgery. I have always believed that the world is complex. There are a great many things in this world of which I have limited or no knowledge. I accept my limitations.

After graduating from law school, I wanted to concentrate my practice in one area of the law, elder law. I analogize practicing law to practicing medicine. Both are traditional professions, and both involve people “practicing” an art—the art of law and the art of medicine.

No one perfects the practice of law or the practice of medicine. Every practitioner learns the most by practicing in the field. You attend law school. You attend medical school. You learn basic concepts, but you learn the most by performing the work. First, under the supervision of other, more experienced practitioners, then on your own. But you are always learning. You never perfect the practice.

I say all this because more people—given the ubiquity of the internet—believe that they can google a legal question and find the answer. Many of these people then believe they can function as their own lawyer as effectively or as effectively as a lawyer who has spent his life practicing a given field.

I have had health issues in my life. I am fifty-four, and I think most everyone who is fifty-four has had some health issues. I have never correctly diagnosed myself. For this reason, I do not even try and diagnose myself any longer. If I have symptoms, I do not Dr. Google myself. I just go to a doctor, then I go to a specialist after consulting with my general practitioner.

I do google my specialist. I try to find someone whom I can trust given their credentials. I look for a doctor who has concentrated his practice in a given area and who has merit-based honors.

If my fuse box were arching, I would not get a screwdriver and go to town on it. I do not do this because I would do something wrong, and I may end up hurting myself. I am not an electrician, and the internet is not going to fix that.

The internet is great. I search things—historical facts, definitions, etc.—several times a day, every day. But I do not google how to perform a job for which I have no training. A job for which others attend school for years and practice for decades.

When I meet with people, I ask them certain questions and make certain suggestions during my conversation with them. Almost always, the advice I give contradicts what the person thought when they walked through the door to my office. My suggestions are based upon years of experience—my personal experience and the experience of fellow elder law practitioners.

It is my education and my experience for which people pay me. And the ironic thing is, the price I charge is typically a few hundred dollars more than internet services charge. And when you hire me, you do not have to worry about your family being shocked when they find out a legal document you drafted does not work.