As I started writing a different column this month, it occurred to me I haven’t spoken about what I do each day to stay ahead of the ‘re-zooming’ curve as I build my solo practice. My resume and bio on SPU hit only the highlights. What do I do, and continue to do each day to make my re-entry into practice of law easier? Here are the top four things I really do each day to keep ahead to give me a much needed boost.
- I read books
- I work with a career coach
- I join Bar associations
- I join Professional Women’s Groups
These four activities are like jet-fuel in my rockets and keep me on target, fresh and focused. I wanted to share them with you this month so each of you realizes the importance of finding your own.
So many things can exhilarate you as you re-enter the workplace as an attorney. They are the things that get you out of bed in the morning, energize you all day and are the last things you think about at night. The list above shows just a few of the educational tools and venues for networking I use. They suit me and keep me ‘moving forward’. You may find different ones. Great! The only criteria you need for choosing your boosters is that they turn you on, keep you motivated and you use them. They must be something you will follow up/through with.
Let me explain why I chose the ones above.
Don’t Make Me Pull This Car Over: A Road Map For The Working Mom – by Kristin Andree. This is an irreverent guide for busy working women juggling the work/life balance by some one who walks the walk. Kristin is a Media Guru and Business Consultant. I was lucky enough to meet her in person at one of my top 4 events.
The E-Myth Revisited – by Michael E Gerber.
This book helped me understand the stages of entrepreneurship and how to survive each of them. It is applicable to any business. I can apply its business information to help my clients and myself. One of my business colleagues recommended it.
Soul Proprietor – by Jane Pollak
An unlikely addition to this group but a much valued one. This book helped me understand the fears and mistakes solo practitioners feel and make along the way. You read how Jane coped with and learned from her journey. She shares these business lessons with her readers. The biggest take away is she survived and thrived. It is invaluable for fresh ideas, which are outside the box. I have tried a few and they work beautifully. Again non-legal but extraordinarily valuable.
Law & Re-Order – by Deborah Epstein Henry
Finally a legal book!! This book is particularly good for women attorneys in the workplace. It speaks to how they have and continue to change things and thrive. Deb is a friend. I was fortunate to meet her during my New Directions class, at a NYSBA Meeting and again at a Yale Club – Law and Re-order presentation. She is a wonderful cheerleader for women in the profession and women re-zooming their careers.
How To Start and Build A Law Practice – by Jay G. Foonberg
The bible of a solo practitioner. This one should be dog-eared and highlighted.
The Road to Independence – 101 Letters written by women who have founded law practices. The ABA and the Commission on Women in the Profession, Solos and Small Firms and Women & Minority Lawyers Committee’s commissioned it. It is limitless in its encouragement for women to start their own firm. It includes the discussions of women who started their own firms on how they reinvented themselves whenever and wherever needed. Solo Practice University® has two faculty members featured, too!
Once I decided what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I knew I needed to hire a career coach to keep me focused and help me get there. Maybe you are disciplined and can compartmentalize your old life and new. I realized this was the single greatest weakness I had. I needed to find someone who would be kind yet firm. One thing I did know, I didn’t want them to be involved in the law. I wanted the perspective of a client not a colleague.
I met Jane Pollak, my future career coach, at of all things a networking event. I attended the WCBS RADIO WORKING WOMENS LUNCH featuring Eileen Fischer of Eileen Fischer Designs and Nell Merlino of Count Me In and Make Mine A Million. Jane and I fortuitously met during the initial networking cocktail hour and then sat next to each other at lunch. I did not realize this good fortune then. I realized it after reading her book, which she graciously gave me as we left that afternoon (it was the only one she brought).
As a start up solo practice, it was expensive to meet with Jane each week. Yet because of the expense, I tended to follow her lead, formalize my next move and check on my progress, using our time together each week wisely. I was able to brainstorm every week seeing if what I was doing made sense. The relationship opened up a whole new venue for me, a non-lawyer networking group. It enabled me to remain true to what I was doing, while moving forward without distraction.
Let’s just call it my “Weight Watchers” for career resuming.
I know I have preached not to pigeon hole yourself but truly the greatest way to feel good about yourself while having others around you feel good about you is to volunteer for a bar association committee. I did it the first year I was back, before I even opened my solo practice. I joined the ABA – Women Rainmakers & TIPS – Animal Law Committee, NYSBA – Women and the Law and NYCLA – Animal Law Committee. Joining committees that interest you legitimizes the practice area you re-zoom to and actually makes you feel smart. You realize everyone is just like you and it’s invigorating. You come to the table thinking outside the box. Your career break provides a fresh eye on a subject or process. I have loved every minute of working along side these talented ladies.
Professional Women’s Groups
Now this is a tricky area. You need to join active groups with members who are energetic networkers for you as much as for themselves. I was privileged to have Jane Pollak include me in the Entrepreneurial Women’s Network – EWN, Kathy McShane is my link to Ladies Who Launch and locally I joined the Professional Women of Westchester. Each in its own way has added value to my re-entry.
I hope the advice in this column will do the same for you.
If you have any great ideas to share about how you helped your re-zooming into the profession, please share in the comments!
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.