By Clayton T. Robertson (Criminal Defense / Civil Litigation Attorney)
This is one of my favorite quotes as it relates to what it takes to be an accomplished professional as an attorney (or, for that matter, in any field). The quote is featured in Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner's book "Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges". (Yes, Scalia is a former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and Garner is the Editor in Chief of Black's Law Dictionary.)
In short, it is not enough to simply grind it out every day, learning lessons through trial and error. Indeed, you do NOT want to be the client whose attorney learns a lesson through an error in your case.
One of the attributes you must look for in an attorney is what we call intellectual inquisitiveness. Do they take a proactive approach to learning? Do they enjoy learning? Is it a passion for them? Of course, learning for its own sake is not enough, but learning combined with experiences equals excellence. Finally, one may acquire knowledge reluctantly, but the personality trait called "love of learning" is nearly impossible to teach.