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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The trendy catch phrase these days is “self-love.” When I first learned about “self-love,” I mistakenly believed this meant pampering myself. Massages, candles, scented baths, vacations and other pleasantries were indulgences that, as a busy trial attorney, I did not have time for. Loving myself might include indulging in earthly delights, but it goes much deeper than superficial rewards.
“We are on borrowed time now.” That is what the manager at the assisted living facility where my father has lived for nearly four years gently tells me. A few weeks earlier, during a phone consult with my younger brother and me, my father’s physician introduces the word "hospice" into the conversation.
Throughout my time as an access-to-justice scholar, I have noticed a meaningful gap in our collective understanding of the scope of civil justice problems in the United States and of the real work needed to address the access-to-justice crisis.