Thought For The Week: Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me. Carol Burnett

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The Importance of Feedback for Millennial Lawyers

Millennial lawyers need feedback from supervising attorneys on a project basis — not just once or twice a year in scheduled reviews.  That is well-established.  People in positions like mine hear it all the time, and we know how important feedback is to junior lawyers — especially those who were raised with an abundance of feedback and mostly praise.

What does not get as much attention is the critical failure by law firms to revise review policies and mentoring efforts to meet the feedback needs of young lawyers.   As I have stated to law firm and bar association audiences time and time again, that failing is very risky.  Young lawyers travel light and will relocate over issues like failure to mentor — or just plain not showing enough interest in their career paths.

For those senior lawyers whose response is “don’t care” — and I have met some of them — my response is that they will care after they discover how expensive it is to replace talent.

Nicole Abboud hits the issue square on the head in her recent video on the subject.  I like what Nicole is doing as a contributor to the Attorney at Work project, and I also like that she had me as a guest recently on her The Gen Why Lawyer podcast to discuss millennial lawyers.  Check out the May 31, 2019 episode on The Gen Why Lawyer website to listen to our discussion.

Nicole is thoughtful and devoted to raising issues that are being glossed over by others in the profession.  In this case, she uses her own experience as an associate lawyer to take a deep dive into what it is like to have your work product ignored.  Take a look at the video.  My guess is that you will be able to relate to the anxiety and damage to self-esteem and confidence about your career choice that result from this lack of feedback.  And it is so unnecessary.

Times change.  Law practices should do the same.  What worked before, does not work now.  Even if senior lawyers do not think that the degree of feedback millennials need is necessary, IT IS what millennials need.  And the need won’t go away.  Millennials were raised with an abundance of attention paid to them and in an age of instant gratification made possible by new technologies.  They are the product of their times.

Often when I am addressing senior lawyers, who I know are challenged to understand or even appreciate millennials, I remind them of their contribution to the very thing about which they complain.  Many of those lawyers are parents of millennials.  Bingo!  Bring on the March of the Helicopter Parents!  They hovered, and they smothered and, yes, they made sure everyone got a trophy.  Distancing themselves from the result now seems a bit silly and disingenuous.

Rather than avoid the issue, they should face it straight on and become the leaders we need for a better future.  They should park their judgment genes on the office shelf and get busy training a new generation of lawyers who also will become a new generation of law firm leaders.  Their numbers alone make that a certainty.

So I say to law firm leaders, pay attention to these young lawyers.  Mentor them.  Give them feedback.  Show some real interest in them.  Learn their names, and call them by name.  Invite them to lunch.  It will take a small amount of effort compared to the potential benefits.  And you might actually enjoy doing for these young people what someone did for you in the day.

If you do your job right, it is an investment in the future of your law firm.  And the young lawyers of today will be equipped to become the effective law firm leaders of tomorrow.





Career Counselors, Law Firm Managers, Law School Educators, Law Students, Practice Advice, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | 1 Comment

Today is National Voter Registration Day: Just Do It!!!!!!!!!

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Thought For The Week: The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. Nelson Mandela

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Young Lawyers: Ask for What You Want!

Asking for what you want?  Ah.  It is much harder than it sounds.  But, you must master the fine art of identifying what you want and asking for it.  Especially at work where every opportunity lost can negatively affect your career path.

My friend Anne Loehr just posted an article about this, and I thank her for that.  As a leadership consultant to companies and firms, she has done a lot of thinking about this.  She isn’t always writing for lawyers, but the same rules apply throughout the working world.

Anne rightfully points out that the response “I don’t care” is not acceptable.  You have to care.  That is what advocating for yourself is all about.  You cannot rely on others to know what is best for you.

In explaining this in her post, Anne enlisted the help of one of my favorite professional consultants, Jezra Kaye, who specializes in improving public speaking skills.  Her website Speak Up for Success is a gem.  Jezra hones it to a five-step exercise:

  • Know Your Value;
  • Do Your Research;
  • Develop Your Strategy;
  • Plan Your Speech; and
  • Practice, Practice, PRACTICE.

This is all very familiar to me.  Jezra and I have spent hours and hours over coffee, lunch and dinner tossing these concepts around.  She is a pro.  Consult her website, listen to her podcasts, and do what she says.

We all know that self advocating and being direct can be uncomfortable.  But, what’s the choice?  Letting your career proceed in the wrong direction to save yourself a little unrest?

Don’t expect anyone else to be looking out for you — it doesn’t work that way.  YOU have to develop the sales pitch that tells them what YOU want, why YOU want it, and why they should give it to YOU.

You also have to know why things matter to you.  Be prepared for the push back, and have responses ready.  Be confident in your delivery, and be persistent.  If your request is not granted, try again.  Ask good questions to get information to improve your delivery and turn things in your favor the next time.

And, news flash.  In the legal profession, you are EXPECTED to ask.  You are EXPECTED to be a self advocate.  You are EXPECTED to overcome your anxieties.  How can your managers trust you to advocate for clients if you cannot advocate for yourself?

It is the nature of the beast. Learn to deal.






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Thought For The Week: What’s good for women is good for the world. Riane Eisler, Social Scientist, Lawyer, and Author

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What All Lawyers Need to Know about Origination Credit

If you are a lawyer just beginning your career, you probably don’t spend a lot of time worrying about origination credit.  In fact, maybe you never heard of the concept.  That makes sense.  You have a lot of other things to worry about that affect you on a daily basis in pursuit of improving your skills and becoming the best lawyer you can be.

But there is a difference between “worrying about” and “being informed about.”  As far as I am concerned, every private practice lawyer, regardless of experience, needs to at least be familiar with the concept of origination credits.  To be uninformed about them is to be unfamiliar with one of the things rocking the legal world at this point in time.

Origination credit is a lot what it sounds like.  For past generations, the lawyer, who brings the client to the firm, gets some credit for future work done for the client even if he or she never spends another hour toiling away on work for that client.

So, a lawyer can “originate” the client but never work on the client’s matters again and still lay claim to a part of the proceeds generated by the client work.  And on a permanent basis.

The result is that the lawyers currently working on a client matter are not getting credit for all of the time billed because the originating lawyer, who is not working on the matter at all, is skimming off the top based on the origination event and may even be receiving the bulk of the compensation.

If that sounds unfair to you, you are in the company of many others who believe this is an antiquated concept and needs revisiting.  In fact, this alleged unfairness is at the heart of some of the very visible gender and diversity discrimination law suits pending against Big Law today.

To learn more about this concept and from the perspective of an in-house lawyer, see

In that article, you will read about efforts by in-house lawyers to assure that the relationship partners, who actually work on their matters, receive the compensation credit they deserve.  You will read about the frustration of in-house lawyers, who discover that lawyers they never have met or dealt with, are receiving part of the fees paid — fees that otherwise would go to the relationship partners that these in-house lawyers deal with on a daily basis.

You will also read comments from seasoned partners, who have benefited from origination credits throughout their careers but who also see the unfairness of the system.  Like this comment from Patricia Gillette, who I know and admire:

“[The system of origination credits} ensconces lawyers in a position and rewards them over and over again, and it creates silos rather than teams.  You can get credit for the rest of your life; it doesn’t give room for others.”

This is not to say that origination credit is not important or that the concept should be thrown out as with the proverbial baby with the bath water.  But a compromise where the relationship partner shares in some of the origination credit may be in order.  That would seem fair.

And fundamental fairness should underlie everything we do in the law.  Former Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter said it best so many years ago, and I agree!



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Thought For The Week: It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. Confucius

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