I don’t know about you, but I didn’t have a law school class on networking, business development or client service. Even during my time as a law firm associate, training on these professional skills was informal (at best) but mostly observational as I listened on speakerphone or sat quietly at a client lunch while the partner carried the conversations. There was no structured training in these essential business skills.
As a law professor, one of the most rewarding parts of my job is helping students navigate their burgeoning legal careers and find positions that bring professional satisfaction and success. I am always delighted when students appear in my office with an offer in hand or a story about an amazing case that they worked on over the summer.
Ever have that thought? “I must be losing my mind because I can’t remember where I parked my car or set my iPhone, your name—although I recognize your face—an address, a birthday, a password, a set of numbers, what I was looking for, etc.” Many aging lawyers have—including me.
Why should you resolve to support civil legal aid in 2024? Short answer: I work in legal aid. Selfish, huh? There’s a longer answer, which ends with the immense power of your choices. But it begins with choices of mine.
My hometown Toulon, Illinois, is a small farm community of 1,200 souls about three hours southwest of the Chicago sprawl. During my youth, it featured five gas stations; four churches; three grocery stores and two doctors, which said something about gas, God and medicine in my 1960s rural America.
I remember being on cloud nine as I drove home from work not too long ago—two hours late but excited to sneak up on my 1-year-old as she played in the bath. I was working as a federal prosecutor, and some agents and I had finally cracked (through equal part persistence and luck) a cross-border money laundering case that had seemed to be hopeless until that morning.
Ten years ago, I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young attorney, fresh from a federal clerkship and eager to start my litigation career. One year later, I was a sleepless, burned-out basket case on my way out the door asking myself, “Did I make an awful mistake when I went to law school?” Fast forward almost a decade, and I can answer that question with a resounding no.
“Is it possible to both hold a peaceful protest and allow a controversial speaker to speak?” Cassandra Hill, the dean of the Northern Illinois University College of Law, posed this question to me last month, as she moderated a LexCon '23 panel, which explored how schools can support students and protect First Amendment rights during times of conflict.
Winding down my Polish airport real estate development projects, I sold my Polish car parking company in 2011 to a Belgian company, closing the deal in a Warsaw conference room packed with 11 lawyers and towers of documents in Polish and English, even though the buyers primarily spoke French.
My daughter was diagnosed with cancer on Nov. 2, 2020. She had just turned 3 months old. I was visiting my family in Idaho while on maternity leave from my BigLaw job in Washington, D.C., when we got the news. Devastated and confused, we took her to St. Luke’s Children’s Cancer Institute in Boise and barely emerged for months.