The blog of the NCBA Professional Vitality Committee

‘Murphy’s Law,’ or How an Aphorism Can Sum Up the Legal Mind


By Erna Womble

In the legal profession, we’re trained to envision and prepare for worst case scenarios. We devote significant time and mental resources to thinking about catastrophic outcomes. But how do we balance this often necessary professional mentality with our daily lives?

I had a mild epiphany the other day when I found myself prefacing an email to a fellow lawyer with the words “unless Murphy’s Law has prevailed…”

Murphy’s Law. The idea that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. (Or, if you’d rather hear Matthew McConaughey’s slightly more optimistic take on it, click here. But I digress.)

It wasn’t intentional on my part, but in acknowledging the prevalence of Murphy’s Law, I realized that I had snagged a common thread that runs through most legal minds. Perhaps many lawyers and judges, regardless of their natural proclivities or personality types, may share a chuckle of recognition at our customary professional pessimism.

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