About Paul Dumont

Paul loves school. For the past 30 years, he has played the role of student, tutor, coach, and teacher at universities and colleges throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, earning a B.A. in Liberal Studies and an M.A. in English Composition Theory before entering law school in 1995. As a law student, he received an American Jurisprudence award in Legal Writing and Research, worked three semesters as a teaching assistant for Contracts and Torts, published a law review note, served as a law review associate editor, graduated in the top 15% of his class, and passed the California Bar on his first attempt. For the past 20 years, he has practiced family law while teaching and tutoring on the side, but recently retired from family law to devote his full attention to assisting students seeking to become licensed attorneys in California. In 2016, he retired from coaching gymnastics after a career that spanned four decades.

Courage is Rehearsed: Managing Fear During Public Performances

Courage is Rehearsed: Managing Fear During Public PerformancesThis week we welcome guest writer Paul Dumont to talk about lessons learned from coaching gymnastics and how those can apply to law school and the bar exam.

From 1988 until 2016, for fun, income, and my own development, I devoted more than 10,000 hours to coaching boys in the Junior Olympic Competitive Program, primarily at Redwood Empire Gymnastics in Petaluma, CA (1988 – 2002), attending approximately 150 competitions and leading 9 teams to state championship titles. During the same decades, I earned degrees in liberal studies, English composition, and law, passed the CA bar exam, and went on to a 20-year career in family law while teaching legal writing on the side. Both journeys were intimidating for a young professional.

Both professions required years of disciplined training and participation in challenging public contests showcasing a performer’s ability to perform competently under myriad pressures. Both professions required management of serious risk. Risks of injury. Liability risks. Risks to self-esteem, reputation, employment, and finances. Risks to ego and id. Success was measured through timed performances evaluated by neutral licensed examiners. All of the results were published. Glad I got into coaching before my legal training scared me away.

This post distills essential lessons gained over 30 years competing in two disparate public arenas, specifically the concrete steps I followed to manage fear during important performances.

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