The recent European Soccer Championship between Italy and Spain brought to mind a study mentioned in a book I am reading, "Wait: The Art and Science of Delay." Author Frank Partnoy mentions that studies of penalty kicks at the end of professional soccer matches demonstrate this remarkable fact: The goalkeeper's optimal strategy is to remain at the center of the goal, not jump to the left or to the right.
Partnoy’s bigger point is that the right move often is no move at all. But that is hard to do because we often believe we know exactly what to do, and convince ourselves that we always are better off acting, rather than waiting. But that's wrong – just take a look at medicine. He quotes an adage from our fellow profession where doctors often tell one another, "Don't just do something. Stand there." Same in the law.
I was talking to a colleague the other day, and she said we needed to respond immediately to an email from opposing counsel. No we don't, I counseled; it will only condition us to give (and for him to expect) an immediate response. The art of lawyering is the art of what not to do.
Soccer reminds me of the law: long periods of tireless work and boredom, interrupted by moments of intense excitement and unmitigated joy.