Lesley Niebel is the Chair of the MCBA Young Lawyers’ Section. A trial lawyer with Faraci Lange, her goal for the year is just like mine — to bring people together.
In our member message last week, Lesley wrote that her goal is to “have newer attorneys feel comfortable with our legal community and make lasting connections with others in the profession.” You might recall that my theme is “Relationships — renewing, refreshing and repairing them as necessary.”
Lesley and I didn’t collaborate on our goals beforehand. We came to them independently of one another. Coincidence? No. It’s because we’re all thinking the same thing. We’re all thinking about (and in need of) relationships and connections now more than ever.
So have you taken the time to have that lunch or coffee with a friend yet? Have you taken the time to renew and refresh your relationships yet? Or have you just gone from home to work and back again — or worse yet, from your home office to your living room and back again? You need more. You need to take time for yourself.
My friends, it’s time to get out and visit one another! (safely, of course…). I haven’t been very good at this myself. I used to have breakfasts and lunches with colleagues all the time, but I’ve only had a couple in recent months. I need to do better. I need to check on my friends and let them check on me.
In this light, Lesley and I recently discussed the importance of REALLY getting to know other lawyers instead of just superficially knowing them. Superficial conversation doesn’t let us learn from one another. It doesn’t help us check on each other and our families.
So, when you’re talking with a lawyer about a case or at a court appearance or at a happy hour, try to really get to know them. Take the time to ask about their practice and their family. Find out about their stresses and their worries. And tell them about yours. That way, you can check on them later, and they can follow-up with you too.
This is also the only way we’re going to meet the goal of helping each other feel comfortable in our community. Quick, superficial conversation won’t do it. We need to dig deeper and help all lawyers feel connected, respected and that they belong to our community.
When I recently asked MCBA President-Elect Langston McFadden what he thought the MCBA is all about, he replied: “Getting to meet and know nice people and to have the benefit of experience and knowledge of older lawyers.”
One thing I know is that our legal community is such that ANY lawyer can call ANY other lawyer to ask for advice and counsel, and the call will be answered. So don’t hesitate to call one another. If you’re a young lawyer and you need some advice, call an older lawyer (even one in another firm or office). If you’re a 10-year associate trying to navigate your way through your firm and you have some questions, call a lawyer in another firm for ideas. And if you’re a seasoned lawyer trying to figure out retirement plans or how to deal with new anxiety, lots of other lawyers are in the same boat and would be happy to talk with you about it. In short, none of us are alone.
As the Four Tops said in “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”:
If you feel that you can’t go on because all of your hope is gone,
And your life is filled with much confusion until happiness is just an illusion,
And your world around is crumblin’ down …
REACH OUT FOR ME!
In the interest of bringing people together, we’re having a Drop-In OUTDOOR Happy Hour this Thursday, Oct. 14, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Swiftwater Brewing Company on Mt. Hope Avenue. No need to register. Just come by and get to know one of your colleagues a little better. Vaccinations are required by the establishment.
Be well. Be kind. Be there when someone reaches out to you.
Bradley Kammholz is the 2021-22 President of the Monroe County Bar Association and is a partner at Kammholz Rossi PLLC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.