Dare to Be Bold—and to Improvise

From early childhood through high school, I was an aspiring classical musician. During college, I discovered new passions in academics and public service. While law became my career focus, my experience as a musician helped me cultivate lasting skills that have molded me into the advocate I am today, including how to connect with different audiences, how to work tirelessly toward key goals, and how to distill complex ideas into a simple but powerful message in any given piece—these days, a brief or oral argument.

One of the most helpful lessons I learned as a musician was how to perform under pressure. I can still feel my clammy hands, as stiff as piano strings, in the minutes before I took the stage. I can still hear my heart pounding so intensely it could have been mistaken for the low thud of a timpani drum. I can still see the glare of bright stage lights, like the sun on a scorching summer afternoon, beaming on me as I walked onto the stage. But I also remember these sensations fading into the background as others overtook them: focus, clarity, and passion.

Learning to perform under pressure didn’t happen overnight. Through trial and error, lots of practice, and plain old grit, I gradually learned how to thrive in high-intensity situations—by harnessing and transforming my performance adrenaline into an asset; by understanding that failure is a necessary part of learning and improving; and by embracing rather than avoiding situations that can cause performance anxiety or discomfort.

As I’ve gone from aspiring musician to practicing lawyer, this lesson has stayed with me, inspiring me on a day-to-day basis. It is the pressure of performance that drives me forward rather than holds me back. I relish the high-stakes cases that my firm handles. I thrive when thinking on my feet during an oral argument or trial and navigating difficult legal problems. My comfort with discomfort has also shaped the decisions I make throughout my career, pushing me to be bold and to constantly seek out new challenges. And daring to improvise along the way.