Looking to start 2022 on the right foot? Take our advice
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At the ABA Journal, we love to produce magazine features like the 50 startup tips to get your practice off the ground. But we also think that it's important to provide a platform for the experience and wisdom of legal professionals year-round. Here are our favorite columns from 2021 in our Your Voice, Mind Your Business and On Well-Being sections, with advice for improving your practice and your personal life in 2022.
Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma against parental leave in the legal industry. Women face stigma because the burden of their work falls on their colleagues, and some people even see maternity leave as a “vacation.”
How does one deal with such difficult clients with whom—for many reasons, including ethical considerations—you can’t disengage? How do you still get the evidence you need from them? Also important: How can you protect your own emotional health during such cases? And, ultimately, how do you protect yourself as an attorney, should the client make untrue or unfair allegations?
For the legal profession, allyship can be a challenging topic. But this doesn’t mean that lawyers are incapable of standing up for colleagues; it’s just that we have to be intentional about it, writes lawyer Ellie Krug.
Concerns about starting your first job after law school are justified. It is terrifying. For many, the first year as an associate will be your first professional job. Little has prepared you for the difficult, confusing and stressful first year ahead. Dustin M. Paul and Jennifer L. Eaton have some advice for their newest colleagues.
James H. Fierberg has spent 40 years in practice and nearly as long serving as an official and unofficial mentor for young lawyers, as well as more than a decade as an educator at many levels, including law school. “All these experiences have informed me of the important skills that lawyers need to master for success, most of which are not taught in law school.”
Mind Your Business
Do you find yourself living with the stark reality of having to make a transition during COVID-19? Are you looking at changing practice areas or making a move to a new firm? Change in the best of times can be daunting. Add to that the various challenges we are currently facing with restrictions and lockdowns, and it may seem insurmountable. But it doesn’t have to be.
In today’s online-centric world, lawyers often get just one click and one page of search engine results to make their cases to prospective clients. It’s the first and maybe only opportunity to showcase their credibility to clients in an increasingly competitive market.
The business entity you select for your firm has enormous implications for your annual tax liability. In addition, determining whether to make additional tax elections with the IRS can be one of the more confusing aspects when establishing a law firm. Which structure is right when you start your firm? Should you start with one structure and modify it down the line? What tax advantages could you gain from a change?
While individual schedules will vary, on any given day, firms will have a segment of their team in the office, and another segment dispersed. After more than a full year of working remotely, this will be yet another disruption for law firms to endure.
Legal analytics continue to be a necessary and growing part of how modern attorneys approach case strategy and research. Analytics tools enable attorneys to bring data-driven decision-making to their practice and business, improving both the quality and the efficiency of work they perform for their clients.
By many accounts, law firms got through the financial challenges of 2020 by making deep cuts to expenses. And while that strategy seems to have worked, firms have likely reduced spending as much as they can and will have to focus on other aspects of the revenue cycle to propel their recovery.
If lawyers know the challenges to well-being, and they have been presented with ideas and strategies to improve wellness within their organizations, what stands in the way of creating systemic change?
One exercise that I have found useful and have often shared for getting clarity around what is really important in life is the “Bull’s-Eye” values-clarification exercise, designed by Swedish psychotherapist Tobias Lundgren.
Law practice should not require you to sacrifice your health—the most obvious reason for that being that your well-being is the cornerstone of being a good lawyer.
“Having a strong mindfulness practice as a foundation has helped me get through these difficulties,” writes lawyer and author Jeena Cho. “This isn’t to suggest that mindfulness has somehow shielded me from experiencing grief or trauma. What it has allowed is a way for me to process it so that the grief isn’t the only experience my mind is paying attention to.”
During this period of COVID-19, when so many of our norms have been disrupted and the future is uncertain, it is an understatement to say there is a lot to feel anxious about.