ABA Journal

Your Voice

How I learned to find work-life balance during the COVID-19 pandemic

I am at the pinnacle of my profession. I lead a team of 70 people who provide civil legal assistance each year to more than 3,000 low-income and vulnerable residents of Queens, the most diverse borough of the largest city in America.


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Is the law library a thing of the past for law firms?

When I became a lawyer more than half a century ago, the law library was, by any measure, the heart of my law firm. It was where lawyers went to do legal research—any and all research. That meant that all the younger lawyers were in the library at some point virtually every day. On occasion, all the firm’s associates were in the library at the same time. Many partners were also regular visitors.


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A new parent's 7-step guide to seamless networking

How do you take time off from work and go on parental leave, yet maintain important relationships with people in your network? As a new parent, this can be particularly difficult with the demands of a newborn child: feedings every two hours, recovery from the delivery process (and pregnancy in general), sleepless nights, doctor's appointments. The responsibilities seem endless.


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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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