Let’s Talk Student Loan Debt Forgiveness

Student loan debt from the costs of college/university is part of the albatross around the necks of so many young lawyers. I write about undergraduate and law school debt often, and I am always looking for some good news to share. Finally, there may be some.

Yesterday, the Biden administration officially launched the application for its Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program. The program forgives up to $20,000 of student loan debt for certain borrowers. Borrowers have until Dec 31, 2023, to fill out an application form which can be found on line.

Borrowers making less than $125,000 a year (or $250,000 for married couples) will qualify for loan forgiveness, and the Dept of Education will also provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to those who received Pell Grants.

For more information on this program, here is the Fact Sheet issued by the White House.

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Thought For The Week: “The point is not to pay back kindness but to pass it on.” Julia Alvarez

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When Women Lead: An Important Perspective

Women leaders in both general business settings and the business of law have a lot to teach us. Business leadership is not the exclusive dominion of men. Find out why.

Today I call your attention to a new book, When Women Lead: What They Achieve, Why They Succeed, and How We Can Learn From Them. The author, Julia Boorstin, Senior Media and Tech Correspondent at CNBC, has put together a primer for women who aspire to become leaders throughout business, and she has gathered an impressive group of women leaders to describe their journeys to successful business leadership positions. Although most of those leaders are engaged in the business of raising venture capital to aid in the production and promotion of innovative products and processes, the content is very instructive for all young women in business and law as well as their male counterparts.

Full disclosure. I have yet to read the book. The fifth book in the Best Friends at the Bar series, scheduled for release later this Fall, has my full attention these days. You can be sure, however, that I will get to When Women Lead as soon as possible after my editorial/ marketing responsibilities to my publisher are met.

Like me, however, you can examine the Index and preface to the work and, particularly, the content titled “Concepts and Skills” included in “See Inside” on the Amazon description of the book. Then you can decide if it sounds like something that will be valuable to you. And, if so, you can put the title on your holiday gift list. What a meaningful gift for friends and family to share with young women business leaders in training today.

And think about doing the same for my new book. New Lawyer Launch: THE Handbook for Young Lawyers will be very worthy of your attention and will also make a great holiday gift for the young lawyers in your life.

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Thought For The Week: “Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.” Stephen Covey

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Personal Definitions of Success Revisited

I really enjoy spending time with young people. The are fun, and they teach me a lot. I always walk away from them with something important to ponder. I don’t always agree with them, but I don’t have to. It is enough that they make me think.

Young lawyers are no exception.  Recently, when I was talking to a couple of young lawyers about their career objectives, I heard one of them say to the other, “You do you.”  It resonated with me, and it also reminded me of the similar messages I have been sending to young lawyers for more than a decade. 

I coined the phrase Personal Definitions of Success in my first book for young women lawyers, which was published in 2009. In those days, my focus was exclusively women lawyers because of the unique challenges they faced. It still was a bit of a Wild West for women lawyers in those days, and the playing field was very uneven for women as compared to men.  Although I was aware that all young lawyers needed help in those days, it was the women who got my attention. I had experienced those challenges firsthand, and I wanted to throw out a life line as best I could.

That does not mean that there are not special challenges for women lawyers today because there certainly are and always will be as long as women continue to be the primary caretakers of children and elderly and needy family members. But, after three books and scores of programs for women lawyers, I felt comfortable broadening my focus to include all young lawyers. I did that in my last book for and about millennial lawyers, and I am doing it again in a handbook for young lawyers, which will be released later this Fall. 

So whether you call it Personal Definitions of Success or “You do you”, it means the same thing. There is no one definition of success. Success does not mean full time work and partnership any more than it means part-time work and something less than partnership. It means what matters to YOU within your own definition of ambition and your values. It means different things to different people.

The most important thing that we can do as a profession is to respect all choices. Every single sincere Personal Definition of Success and career satisfaction is worthy of respect. 

So remember, you do you.

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Thought For The Week: “Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.” Haruki Murakami

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It’s All About Law Firm Culture

I have been writing about toxic law firm cultures since 2016 when I addressed that issue in an article I wrote for Corporate Counsel magazine. That was early in terms of the seriousness that law firms attached to firm cultures. And, since that time, I have continued to sound the alarm about toxic law firm cultures and the disastrous effects of negative practices on the profession.

Here is a very recent update on toxic workplace cultures based on research conducted at MIT examining workplaces in general. The findings translate well to law firms and identify powerful predictors of toxic workplace behaviors, including toxic leadership, toxic social norms, and toxic work designs. The report also explores the ways employers can dramatically improve employee experiences and minimize unwanted attrition, employee disengagement, and negative perceptions in the business community.

Perhaps most important, the authors of the study have identified toxic culture as the primary driver of the Great Resignation, which has been experienced recently throughout the workforce. In fact they believe that toxic workplace culture is more than 10 times as powerful a factor as compensation.

Now that is worth some very serious consideration — for both legal employees and legal employers.

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Thought For the Week: “If you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up. There’s a way out.” Stephen Hawking

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