Thought For The Week: “All things are bound together. All things connect. Whatever happens to the Earth, happens to the children of the Earth.” Chief Seattle

Career Counselors, Thought For The Day | Comment

Young Lawyers, Listen Up! What You Say About Yourself Defines You

Marshall Goldsmith is one of the most influential leadership trainers in the country. I have taken his course and am a certified leadership counselor through his organization. I based my book Top Down Leadership for Women Lawyers on much of what I had learned from Marshall.

Below are excerpts from one of his recent blogs on his website. The gist of it is that what you say about yourself through your behaviors and your speech determines whether you receive positive or negative recognition and how successful you will be.

Here is a summary of what Marshall has to say:

My mission is simple. I want to help successful people achieve positive, lasting change in behavior; for themselves, their people, and their teams. I want to help you make your life a little better.

Start by refusing to define yourself as a jerk. Here’s how it happens.

We all have that relative who is always late. She comes in and says, “Oh I am so sorry, I am always late.” Or, we hear another relative who always makes embarrassing gaffes. He excuses himself saying, “I always say the wrong thing.

In reality, these people who “admit” their mistakes are setting themselves up for a self-fulfilling prophecy. In fact, they are giving themselves permission to always say or do the wrong thing.

The fact is that what we say about ourselves, both positive and negative, defines who we are.

How about the boss who, on the positive side, says things like… “I am usually able to figure these things out,” or “I am dedicated to outworking the competition.”

On the negative side, the boss may say things like…”I am a bad listener” or “I am not detail oriented.”

These little sayings add up to your definition of who you are. They are a group of behaviors that you define as “me.” The more we talk, the more we define our unalterable essence.

Well. Let me alter your perspective.

If we buy into our behavior definition of “me,” which most humans do, we can learn to excuse almost any annoying action by saying, “That’s just the way I am!”

As you read this column, think about your own behavior. How many times does your “need to be me” get in the way of building positive relationships with the important people in your life? How many times have you rationalized inappropriate behavior by saying, “That’s just the way I am!”?

There comes a moment for all of us when change becomes possible, when we realize that stern allegiance to our chosen behavior is pointless vanity. We realize that we are hurting our chances for success.

Shedding the “excessive need to be me” is a defining moment. It’s an interesting equation: less me + more them = more success as a leader.

Keep this in mind the next time you find yourself resisting change because you are clinging to a false, and/or probably pointless, notion of “me.” Free yourself from those behaviors to reach your full potential.

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

Thought For The Week: “With so many things coming back in style, I can’t wait until morals, respect and intelligence become a trend again.” – Denzel Washington

Career Counselors, Thought For The Day | Comment

What’s Happening in Law Firms Today?

Law firms are changing. The pandemic has changed just about everything in business, and law firms are no exception. So what are the big changes that law firms and their members are experiencing these days?

The biggest news involves bonuses. The Internet is jumping on an almost daily basis with news of the ongoing bonus war and one more BigLaw firm added to the big bonus list. Even big signing bonuses for associates, sometimes up to six figures.

All of this bonus activity has caused me to wonder what is driving it. After all, the law business has just come through a difficult year where most everyone is working remotely and the brick and mortar offices are sitting empty but very expensive for those firms with long-term leases. On the other hand, most firms are finding that there is no diminution of the quality of the work and profits look good. So it is a bad news, good news analysis.

The answer to this bonus activity appears to lie in the increased lateral movement in large law firms these days. The lateral movement is particularly significant among corporate transactions attorneys, and bonuses are a mechanism that firms use to retain talent and keep clients in place. According to one legal recruiter, “I definitely feel like corporate associate recruiting is the busiest I’ve seen since I’ve started my business.” Another source describes the lateral activity right now as “absolutely absurd.”

So there is that. But it’s hardly a panacea for the increase in mental health issues, stress and burnout in the legal profession during these trying pandemic times. The question will be whether money will solve these problems. My guess is that it will not, but it will keep people in place for the near future and it will be a significant factor in the competition for market leadership.

And there also are other changes in law firms related to the pandemic. With the success of remote practice in terms of law firm profitability and the convenience of working from home for many practicing lawyers, the next challenge I expect is whether the five-day-work-week at the office will survive. According to some sources, law firms are beginning to address the benefits of bringing everyone back to the office full-time. One source reports that offices are being reconfigured with the concept of telecommuting in mind and with a reduction in personal office space in lieu of more collaborative spaces.

And this is likely to create yet another bidding war. One that is about lifestyle not money.

Only time will tell.

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

Thought For The Week: Some succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they are determined to. Henry van Dyke

Thought For The Day | Comment

The Beauty of Teamwork

I LOVE March Madness. Absolutely love it. Some of my enthusiasm is because I am a college basketball fan, and some of it is because of the memories.

When our kids were young, we spent most spring breaks in the mountains on skis. After a day on the slopes, we would go to a bar/tavern in a little western town for burgers — as long as there was a TV tuned to March Madness. I still remember being in Crested Butte, Colorado and seeing Duke’s Christian Laettner sink that famous shot to beat Kentucky during the 1992 Elite Eight. Everyone in the joint, even those like us who were not Duke fans, screamed with pleasure as that beautiful shot swished through the hoop. Those memories are precious.  

What I love most about March Madness is seeing the flawless teamwork from players at that level. Every one of them understands that he has a job to do, and they have to work together like a smooth operating machine to get the desired result — winning, of course. If you have been watching 2021 March Madness, you know that it does not get much better than watching the teamwork that Gonzaga demonstrates on the court. No wonder they are 30-0 for the season. I have them to take the trophy, but we will see ….

Teamwork is also important in law practice. It is not a place for prima donnas, who try to steal the spotlight. If you are not prepared to be an effective team member, with a team mentality, it will be challenging to be successful. Team members can spot a member out for personal glory in a heartbeat, and they will drop him or her like a bad habit. 

Teamwork is so important that law schools need to present more opportunities to experience it and learn it. MBA programs figured that out years ago and have been emphasizing it ever since. They listened to what the industry was telling them — that solo players are not as effective in the C Suite and that training needs to start in graduate business programs.

Law schools need to take that same approach. They need to teach skills that are valuable to the team. They need to emphasize that teamwork means not having to dominate the conversation and learning to listen. It means listening to other team members and showing respect for their ideas. It means being reliable and having the backs of your teammates. It means being good for your word. And it means working as hard as necessary to get the job done, even if that means making coffee or fixing the copier. Nothing is off limits for a true team player.  

So be a team player. And remember that team play is not just for men — and, in my experience, women are instinctively drawn to team play. And that includes women in college basketball.

As an equal opportunity fan, I love those games, too.

Career Counselors | Comment

Thought For The Week: The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why. Mark Twain

Career Counselors | Comment

Equal Pay Day — Things are Still Not Equal

Today is Equal Pay Day, a day of national recognition of the need for women to catch up with men when it comes to compensation for equal work. We are not there yet, in spite of laws like the Equal Pay Act of 1963 — yes, 1963 and signed into law by President Kennedy. At that time women were earning 59 cents on the dollar compared to men for equal work. Today, that figure is an average of 82 cents on the dollar compared to white non-Hispanic men. This disparity in pay and income costs women and their families hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime.

The pay gap is even greater for women of color, with African American women earning approximately 63 cents and Latinx women earning approximately 55 cents for every dollar earned by a white non-Hispanic male.

As you can see, these figures are far from “equal”, and we still have a long way to go. This is not just a woman’s issue. It also is an issue for the sons and male domestic partners of working women, who also would benefit from equal pay for women in the workplace. For every family where the mother/domestic partner is a breadwinner, it is a REALLY big issue. Still.

And here is how the gender pay gap has worked in this past year during the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Two million women left the workforce at a rate four times higher than men. As the economy recovers and schools and daycare facilities reopen, the hope is that employers will welcome those women back to their jobs.

And women lawyers also are impacted by this gender pay gap. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics figures for 2019 show that women lawyers made 85 cents for every dollar made by male lawyers. The National Association for Women Lawyers (NAWL) Annual Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms is another good source of information on these issues.

In closing, let me respond to a reader who gave me push back —well deserved , I might add– the last time I wrote about these issues. The reader took issue with what I wrote about flexible hours and how they impact equal work. Let me be clear. I am entirely in support of flexible schedules, and I know how important they are to women with childcare responsibilities, especially. When the hours are worked is not important in the same way as if the hours are worked, and I am completely supportive of increased flexibility that will keep talent in the workplace without sacrificing the work product.

Specifically, the question asked was, “Do you really believe one is setting the cause [for equal pay] back rather than advancing it if they work flexible hours? If they work at home while their child is staying home sick and sleeping all day … or if you work in the office from 8pm to 12am rather than 8am-12pm because that’s when you have morning sickness?

The answer is emphatically No! That is not what I believe, and I regret that what I wrote earlier was interpreted in that way. So, thank you, reader, for allowing me to point that out.

I urge all of you to consult the National Committee on Pay Equity website to find out what you can do to help bring about pay equity for women. Sooner rather than later.

Career Counselors | Comment