Be Thankful

This is the time of year to be thankful.  You may be overworked, underpaid, unappreciated at the office, and discouraged from the size of your student loan debt, but that is no reason to fail to be thankful.

Unless you have lost perspective.  If that is the case, I am here to help you get it back.

I am here to remind you that most of you live in America where you enjoy civil liberties and are protected by the rule of law.  You can live as you wish and love who you choose.

Most of you have good educations and reasons to be hopeful about your futures.  Most of you live in safe neighborhoods and possess good health.  Most of you have someone in your life who cares about you and wants the best for you. 

Those are not small things.  And you should not take them for granted.  

For those of you, who need more convincing, I suggest that you volunteer some time feeding the hungry and homeless at a shelter — maybe on Thanksgiving Day.  See how excited those folks get over a turkey leg and some mashed potatoes.  Most of them did not choose those lives.  For many of them, circumstances got out of control and those lives just showed up.

We have been given gifts beyond our imaginations, and we must use those gifts to practice charity, understanding and gratitude.  Because we can.

So, let’s gather together tomorrow — with friends and families and loved ones.  Let’s clasp hands around the dinner table and thank God for our blessings.  Let’s pray for the opportunity to make a positive difference in our world and in the lives of others.

That kind of gratitude and expectation of ourselves is what will make us truly happy.

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Thought For The Week: We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives. John F. Kennedy

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Young Lawyers Need to Own Their Careers and Increase Their Visibility

The mission of Best Friends at the Bar is to make all young lawyers succeed in practice.  I speak and write to advance this mission, and, this Fall alone, I will have delivered at least five programs on the issues of most importance to that mission — programs specific to millennial lawyers, programs specific to the success of women lawyers, and programs about the responsibility of senior lawyers to take measures to retain and advance young lawyers.

One of the most popular programs I present focuses on “Owning Your Career and Reinvention.” I delivered messages about your responsibilities for owning and advancing careers earlier this week to the American Bar Association Anti-Trust Women’s Initiative at an event associated with the ABA Anti-Trust Committee’s larger event and a week earlier in a webinar on behalf of Thompson Reuters (West).

I talk about:

  • Realistic Career Expectations;
  • Managing Your Career, including having a career plan early and developing “personal definitions of success” by defining yourself and your needs according to individual values;
  • Work-Life Balance;
  •  Building Your Brand;
  • Self Advocacy and Negotiating for Yourself;
  • Gender Challenges, including gender discrimination and bias; and
  • The Do’s and Don’ts for young lawyers.

These are very important issues, and it is always my pleasure to see them addressed by others — particularly those who are “walking the walk” in practice and who validate my own messages and concerns.

So, I call your attention to an article in that addresses firm visibility.  Like the subjects that I address on a regular basis, the author of this article, a young partner in Big Law, addresses issues that are critical to advancing from the associate to the partner ranks.  Although the article is addressed in large measure to young partners, all of the subjects addressed there are equally important to associates and their career success.  Here is a sampling of subjects addressed there:

  • Be a team player and trusted adviser:
  • Be willing to re-invent yourself; and
  • Spend time on non-billable or pro bono activities, including joining committees and becoming a leader both internally and externally.

Team player.  The need for re-invention.  Becoming a leader.  These are all subjects that appear over and over in my work.  However, there are a few nuances in this article, and I hope you read it.  It will be an important resource for you.

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Thought For The Week: Your Limitation — It’s Only Your Imagination. Unknown

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What Women and Millennial Lawyers Need to Know — Courtesy of Bast Amron in Miami

Last Friday I was a panelist at a Business Advantage Forum hosted by the Bast Amron litigation and business law firm in Miami. What a treat!  The day-long program provided candid and refreshing conversations about the state of business and law in the age of #MeToo and multi-generations in the workplace.  I enjoyed the opportunity to meet and dialogue with dynamic business leaders and attorneys in the Miami area, and I learned a lot — always an important criterion for a successful program.

What made this experience so unique was the recognition by firm leaders that a culture of assisting clients, collaborating with colleagues and giving back to community is a winning combination.  It did not surprise me to hear that on Monday mornings the lawyers and staff at Bast Amron meet to review last week’s work and give recognition for work well done.

Bast Amron clearly knows that best practices includes building a powerful and welcoming workplace, which encourages growth and gains an edge on the competition.  The folks at Bast Amron also are master marketers, who know how to engage clients and audiences on cutting edge issues.

Here are some of the subjects addressed by the panels:

  • Why more women are succeeding as entrepreneurs and business leaders;
  • Why hiring and advancing women in leadership roles attracts top talent and improves company and law firm cultures;
  • Why inter-generational team building is valuable for recruiting and also leads to creative solutions for complex problems; and
  • The importance of social responsibility and community involvement by law firms and companies and how those roles enhance business.

Although I was a panelist in the discussion about millennials and inter-generational team building, you can image that I also took a deep dive during audience participation for the panel addressing women in the workplace.   The discussion of issues surrounding #MeToo and appropriate treatment of women were especially lively and lead to an improved understanding of the responsibilities of all parties, including the responsibility to call out bad behaviors.  I also enjoyed the comments by panelists about how women succeed by turning disadvantages into advantages —- very valuable lessons to learn early in careers.

The program concluded with a presentation by an expert on Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment as a tool for determining behaviors and assisting in hiring.  It was fascinating until I had to run to catch a plane back to DC.

Thank you, Bast Amron for a thought-provoking day and the opportunity to engage with progressive minds.  Keep up the good work!


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Thought For The Week: The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. Douglas MacArthur

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Thought For The Week: Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. Mahatma Gandhi

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Are Civility and Respect Gone from Our Profession? Can Young Lawyers Make a Difference?

If you have read my new book about and for millennial lawyers, you know how much emphasis I put on civility and respect in law practice.  I believe that it is at the core of what sets us aside as professionals, and we have a responsibility to protect it.

Sadly, we have seen a lot of civility and respect sacrificed on the altar of money and power in the last decades, and law practice has changed.  Those changes are critical to who we are as professionals and what society thinks of us.  They are also important to who we want to be as people.  How we want to live our lives.  What we want to think of ourselves.

As I wrote in What Millennial Lawyers Want:  A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2018), I see a pathway back to the days of greater civility and respect, and young lawyers have a critical role in achieving that goal.  It was a bit of an epiphany when I discovered that the values of millennial lawyers are a mirror image of the values of Greatest Generation lawyers of mid 20th century America, who were my role models.  And it gave me hope.  It is why I wrote the book, and it is what I spend a lot of time explaining to law firm leaders and other audiences.  It is hard to disregard the teachings of the Greatest Generation.

Take a look at this post on Above the Law for more on this subject.  Hopefully you will remember the anecdotes shared there and delete the behaviors described from your lawyer repertoire.  It is not necessary.  It is not civil.  It is not respectful.  And it does not dignify you.

That post made me think about a conversation I had with my Dad, a Greatest Generation lawyer, when I was in my first years of litigation practice.  I described to him my difficulty in scheduling a deposition because opposing counsel was being so uncooperative.  My Dad was dumbstruck.  His questions were so fundamental.  Why should that be a problem?  Can’t you just agree on a day and get a court reporter there?  Are you sure there is not some misunderstanding?

Nope, Dad.  No misunderstanding.  Now everything is a power struggle.  And we don’t go to lunch together afterward either.

Push back has become a major league sport in the law.  Yelling, too.  And, as pointed out by the writer in the ATL post, it rarely changes the outcome.

What it changes is us.  It makes us less human.  It makes us less professional.  And it makes us less likely to respect ourselves.


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