ABA Journal

Your Voice

Self-love for lawyers around the holidays

The holidays are upon us, and one of the first questions any stressed out, anxious or close to burnt-out lawyers should be asking themselves is “How do I feel about myself?”

Unfortunately, that is not a question most people ask themselves first thing in the morning. We are all familiar…



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Once upon a time, it was big news when a lawyer switched firms

It’s an understatement to say that law firms have changed in the 50 years since I was first admitted to the bar. One of those changes was the demise, somewhere along the way, of what lawyers in my firm once called the Lemcke test.


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A working mother's 32-step guide to preparing for oral arguments

Appellate oral arguments are exciting, exhilarating and challenging. I’ve been presenting oral arguments since I was sworn into the bar; after 20 years in practice (first as a public defender and then as a law school clinic director), my arguments tally has almost reached the triple digits. It’s possible that my clinic, the Habeas Project at the Mercer University School of Law, holds the record in the Supreme Court of Georgia for the most cases heard in one day—three in a row on Cinco de Mayo in 2009.


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5 tips for working with clients who stand in their own way

Recently, I had an immigration case, where my client was tardy on every deadline and patently refused to do anything beyond the bare minimum to aid their cause. I was emotionally drained by the case but buoyed by the positive result at the end. I must admit I couldn’t fight the impulse to remind the client that they had stood in the way of their own success.


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A great criminal defense attorney is a zealot, despite its negative connotations

The defense attorney-client relationship is like no other. It’s a tie that binds two very different people caught up in a high stakes battle—over money, custody, liability, freedom—even life. A client tells defense counsel sacred secrets carried to the grave.


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When the law teacher becomes the student

If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s our need for nimble adaptation. Law has historically been slow to adapt to change and innovation. But the arrival of COVID-19 changed the way we conduct business, from navigating Zoom hearings and using VPNs to juggling child care and homeschooling for those with young children. Even turning off video filters proved challenging, as illustrated by the kitty cat lawyer Zoom hearing on YouTube.


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Attorneys and the art and science of persuasion

A great deal of practicing law is persuading someone to believe, act or agree with your client’s position, whether it is in a courtroom, a boardroom, a negotiation or at a dinner table. We seek to persuade juries, judges, colleagues, friends, family or the press that we are right and that others are not. Unfortunately, the art of persuasion is not taught in all law schools.


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Don’t argue with your health: How a rare brain illness ended my legal career

Lawyers are busy. We have intense jobs, and the stressors are endless. Emotional clients ask us to work magic, we’re continuously in adversarial positions and our days require flawless focus. The cycle of work, bill, prepare and work more, can be vicious.


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How to retain more women in law firms

I spent nearly 10 years at a world-class international law firm that had disproportionately more men than women at the partnership level. And while the number of women who entered the firm was the same as men, the number of women who left was greater.


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Waiting to exhale: The ill effects of technology on legal practice

At my law school 50th reunion earlier this year—by Zoom, of course—several of us with careers in large law firms compared notes. We spent the expected amount of time reflecting on how much law practice has changed over the past half century.


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