In the legal world, you can’t have one person act as prosecutor, judge and jury. The whole American system in fact is set up on the premise that we need checks and balances to avoid an abuse of power. So how about applying the same concepts in your personal life? When I get mad, I know my judgment is clouded– that is why I have a panel. My go-to people who can weigh in and help me see things from a different perspective.

Some people rely on just a BFF– there are so many problems with that, but here are just a few: 1) friends come & go from your life, you can’t have all your eggs in one basket; 2) ideally, you marry your best friend, and your spouse is bound to piss you off– so you need someone else to peel you back off the ledge every now and then; 3) sometimes people have their own agenda or their perspective may be tainted by their own past.

There are of course times when you won’t have time to convene a panel, and a decision must be made on the spot. When that happens, you need to go with your gut. As Malcolm Gladwell said in Blink, sometimes what seem like snap decisions are actually a reflection of our cumulative life experiences. That said, sometimes our judgment is tainted by biases we may not be aware of, so this is why whenever I have the luxury of time, and I’m not sure that I am seeing something from all the different angles, I rely on my panel– just like I would in a divorce case involving a variety of experts.

Clients going through a divorce often rely on a life-panel because they realize they are in a vulnerable place, where their emotions may cloud their judgment.  Lawyers themselves often ask other colleagues for a second opinion when they think they may be too aligned with their clients because it’s essential to see all points of view prior to entering settlement negotiations or going to trial.

Over the past decade, my own panel has helped me tremendously by pointing out some blind spots that I was overlooking because I was simply way too focused on the end in mind. I am eternally grateful to have learned the importance of having a panel early on, and I hope others will think carefully about applying the same strategy in their own lives.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.