Is Multi-Tasking Such a Good Idea?

Most lawyers, especially women lawyers, pride themselves in their ability to multi-task. And, yes, they are pretty good at it. They have had to juggle family and profession under challenging circumstances, and they have done it very well. I am in awe of women lawyers who manage to multi-task and keep their wits about them.

And some male lawyers do it, too. They multi-task. Kudos to them as well.

The truth about multi-tasking is complicated, however. No matter how you do it, the important question is whether multi-tasking is a good idea at all. Young lawyers need to think about it.

Here is an article that argues against multi-tasking. The author is an in-house lawyer, and has additional advice for all of the in-house lawyers reading this.

My advice to all of you is to pay attention to this article. Many of you have very complicated practices, and the ability to hone in on the subject matter and give it your entire attention at times can mean the difference between success and failure. I am aware that taking a more nuanced approach to multi-tasking complicates the balancing act, but it could very well be worth considering.

I am not saying that you should neglect your family and personal responsibilities in favor of your professional life. That is not what I am saying at all. I believe that an effective balance means that some times your focus has to be on family, and some times your focus has to be on profession. Each day is different, and sometimes each hour is different. That is what you should expect, and handling it means staying flexible and keeping your objectives clear.

I am a lawyer/mom. And I can relate. My kids are grown now, but I remember those challenging days of balancing family with profession like it was yesterday. Some days I felt like a failure as a mother, and some days I felt like a failure as a lawyer. All days I had to stay focused and have the confidence that I could pull it off. And I did. Those two kids now are lawyers and doing their own balancing.

Some things never change. And we don’t really want them to. We value both sides of our lives, and we are capable of creating balance that protects both sides of our lives. It might take a little help from the outside from time to time, but we know how to get that. We just need to be willing to accept the help.

My money is on you. You are smart and capable, and you know your limits. Respect them, and the rest will all fall into place.

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Thought For The Week: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller

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Building Networks is VERY Important for Young Lawyers

Recently I attended a program at an AM LAW 100 firm to benefit young women lawyers. The firm has supported my Best Friends at the Bar program from the beginning, and I return the favor by attending their programs and presenting programs for them. I enjoy the energy of the young lawyers who attend those programs, and I appreciate the seasoned lawyers who participate to help develop young talent.

This particular program addressed a number of topics, including the importance of networking — a typically dreaded subject for young lawyers who want to hide out in the bathroom or pretend to be on the phone when faced with a room full of unknowns. I could sense the discomfort of young program attendees when the subject was introduced. For my part, I assured them that even seasoned lawyers can be challenged by these kinds of cold introductions and conversations. Fortunately , however, breaking into a room full of unknowns is not the only kind of effective networking.

A recent article on Above The Law addressed some of these issues. The author, a 2003 law school graduate, lamented the absence of social media networking opportunities in the early years of her practice. Her emphasis was on how the digital world has transformed the way lawyers socialize and network. The “unfettered access” to lawyers across the globe that is possible via social media is a game-changer, and the ability to profile yourself and your practice on some social media platforms is a huge benefit to developing your unique brand.

But her message was not all about social media. She also addressed networking within the office and building meaningful connections there to develop your talent and access valuable mentoring. Adding legal recruiters and bar association colleagues to your networks was also discussed.

All of these things are important, especially social media like LinkedIn, which enables young lawyers to reach out in ways that are comfortable for them. However, the challenge of the less comfortable venues for networking is important also and should not be ignored. Have confidence in your ability to walk into a group, introduce yourself, and join a conversation. Be assured that your background and experience is something of value to share and that others will welcome your presence in their conversations. Practice your opening remarks for that situation in the same way that you (hopefully) practice your elevator speech.

My best advice for starting challenging networking conversations is to ask people about themselves. Lawyers typically love to talk about themselves so you will be on solid ground. With luck, eventually the conversation will turn to you and your experience or, at the very least, you will exchange contact information with those you have met.

Networking is a process, and it is critically important. Having a professional network can lead to important contacts and clients — exactly what you need to impress your firm and climb the ladder of success.

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Thought For The Week: “Comfort can be dangerous. Comfort provides a floor but also a ceiling.” Trevor Noah

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