As  many, if not most of you know, I am a Virginia Tech grad. So, my Labor Day weekend was consumed with thinking about our big game against third ranked Boise State. Virginia Tech has opened the season with top notch teams over several years, including USC in 2004 when they won the national championship and Alabama last year when they won the national championship.

I watched on Monday night as we lost a fumble on the second play, had a punt blocked on the next possession and were down 17-0 early. Then we started to come back and with 5:14 left in the fourth quarter we had the lead 30-26 and we had the ball. We made one first down and things were looking even better. Then we couldn’t make the second and we punted. 

Roanoke Times writer Randy King penned an accurate headline Deflation in D.C.: Boise State’s Broncos negate Virginia Tech rally and opening line:

On the brink of producing the biggest comeback victory in Frank Beamer’s 24 years as coach, 10th-ranked Virginia Tech watched it fade away. 

Needless to say, it was a very disappointing defeat for the team, the alumni and fans, just as the USC and Alabama losses were disappointing. I am sure there were a lot of "woulda, coulda, shoulda’s in and out of the stadium.  Yet, unlike fans, the team will have to put it behind them and work hard for the rest of the long season. How the team reacts to a disappointing big loss in the first game will determine the quality of the season.

What is the point for you? As a lawyer you rarely challenged to become a better lawyer by your successes. But, you will eventually lose, even if you are a transactional lawyer. You will eventually have to deal with disappointment of letting one get away that you could have won. You have a long career and how you deal with the disappointment will determine what kind of lawyer you are.

 In 1980 I tried a case in West Virginia. One issue in the case was the reasonable cost of completing a construction project. I represented the owner and argued $130,000. The contractor’s lawyer argued $30,000. We had jury interrogatories with the specific question: "What was the reasonable cost to complete the project?" The jury answered: "0." I was devastated. I asked the judge to send the jury back. After all, the amount had to be somewhere between $30,000 and $130,000. He refused. On the way home I was devastated and it took me several days to get over it. Yet, losing this case caused me to work even harder to communicate to juries and over the two years that followed I won several jury trials.