On Sunday, as I was reading the NY Times, a pastime of probably 95% of the world, I came across an article entitled Casey Greenfield v. the World. Loved the title. It was about the life and love of Casey Greenfield, daughter of journalist Jeff Greenfield and mother of Roderick Henry Greenfield, nicknamed Rory, son of married (not to Casey) legal journalist Jeffrey Toobin. Was this ever going to be a juicy article.
As I read the article I realized what Ms. Greenfield was actually doing was taking charge of her life and living it as she saw fit. She may not be rezooming her career, but she clearly was revising her career to meet the needs of her life, her son’s life and the lives of her clients.
She is, along with her partner Scott Labby, a self proclaimed “country lawyer.” She redefines herself this way by dint of her life experiences. As the February 18th, 2012 NY Times article states, “Empowerment is a major theme in Ms. Greenfield’s personal and professional lives”.
Greenfield decided to create her boutique practice, Greenfield Labby, along with Yale Law School chum Scott Labby, as a place where “an elite group of country lawyers” help the “glittering urban professional” sort out their legal entanglements. She comes by this knowledge quite honestly, having untangled herself from a multitude of personal legal entanglements. What I find so interesting, and as the author puts so succinctly, “the partners… are not afraid to use Ms. Greenfield’s life as a subtext and an asset”.
As Rezoomers we never view our lives, outside the law, as a ‘subtext or asset.” By being so naive and myopic we miss the front page, Sunday NY Times Metro Section value of what we lived and now bring to the table. We miss the opportunity to bring our life experiences to the fore. Is Ms. Greenfield the first woman to have a child out of wedlock by a married man?
Instead of shrinking away and plowing on as a “smart, savvy, tough and natural litigator”, as Ms. Greenfield was described by her former boss at Gibson Dunn, she decided to open her own practice. She uses her own experiences to gain street cred. She identifies with people, like herself, who are struggling with legal and non-legal issues. She relates to them on a deeper level because of her honesty and forthright discussion of her own experiences. This in turn helps her resolve their similar outstanding issues. Brilliant.
According to the article, Ms Greenfield and Mr. Labby are fashioning themselves as the “next generation Gloria Allred and Raoul Felder, but with Ivy League Law Degrees.” Talk about making lemonade out of lemons. Ms. Greenfield’s friend and professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, Katie Roiphe, describes Ms. Greenfield’s journey as one “live[d] on a kind of heroic register; she isn’t going to let what other people think about her affect her choices and there’s a real bravery in that. She is not your average divorce lawyer.”
Need I make my point on Empowerment any clearer? We Rezoomers never really value what went before as gold to guild the road ahead. We make this new journey harder then it needs to be because we want to break with the past, it has no value to us and will impede our attempts to get back in the game.
After reading about Ms. Greenfield’s journey, it is clear her plans for the future are all about embracing her past. Her past is guiding her future, evaluating her present. She is not afraid of what she has done in past lives. She identifies herself to her ideal client by using her personal experiences as a badge of honor for the conquering hero. She has walked the walk and survived.
Empowerment-Use it or Lose it
There is a small window of opportunity to value your past experience in a way that creates the niche market you were made to fill. Be it a ‘city or country’ lawyer. Don’t subtract your life experience from your dynamic, it may identify you in a way that creates buzz and enables you to, as Ms Greenfield says, “recogniz[e] your own power.”
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®.