Inattention at High Speeds Is a Very Bad Thing

Racing cars has helped Ed Hugo's focus in the courtroom

Published in 2009 Northern California Super Lawyers magazine

By Nyssa Gesch on July 13, 2009

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When the competition of the courtroom isn’t enough, Ed Hugo turns to the racetrack, where he puts the pedal to the metal, sometimes screaming by at 150 mph.

Hugo became interested in cars at a young age but didn’t venture onto the racetrack until 2002, when he received racing lessons from his wife as a birthday gift. He’s now hooked on the sport and says racing allows him to free his mind from the stresses of the office. “You really need 100 percent concentration going through a turn at 100 miles an hour,” says Hugo of Brydon Hugo & Parker. “It’s pretty important to be looking where you’re going and relaxed and focused, if not tranquil, so thoughts of, ‘Well, tomorrow I have to cross-examine so-and-so, I’ve got to get this brief out’ really shouldn’t be dancing through your head. Inattention at high speeds is a very bad thing.”

Hugo compares racing to the law in this way: “A key to performing is an accurate perception of what’s going on from all of your senses,” he says. “You can’t plan three steps out, ‘That’s what I’m going to do no matter what.’ It’s not so much avoiding one question too many… but knowing when not to back off or panic, because backing off and panicking can lead to much worse results.”

When he returns to work, Hugo has an additional advantage. “If you go back into a courtroom after going over 100 miles an hour for half a day, everything in the courtroom seems to be moving pretty slow.”

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