“From Striving Alone to Thriving Together.” This is the title of NYSBA’s recent report on attorney well-being.
I think that’s what the MCBA and other bar associations are really all about — connection with others that look out for us while we look out for them. It’s being part of something bigger than ourselves and having a place where we can make connections and develop relationships.
Our recent Jazz for Justice event was a great example. I couldn’t believe how large of a crowd we had. Attendees truly enjoyed each other’s company. It was fabulous. And we get to do it again at our annual Bench & Bar Holiday Party at the Memorial Art Gallery on the evening of Dec. 9.
It occurred to me recently that with all of the great work our committees and sections do, one thing they do above all else is simply bring people together — they help us make friends. Monthly meetings often are just as much about visiting with each other as they are about getting things done. But we also need to be careful not to EXCLUDE people accidentally in our meetings and events.
“Everybody counts or nobody counts.”
This quote came out of a recent retreat of the MCBA Board where we discussed how to add value to membership. Sure the conversation was driven in part by concerns over meeting our membership budget numbers, but we really focused on the much deeper issues of why we’re all members and how the membership experience is different for everyone. We wound up discussing how some members simply don’t feel as included as others, and we all need to make a better effort to make everyone feel comfortable and included.
Have you ever sat in a meeting and not felt welcome or felt like you don’t belong? Have you ever been at an event and didn’t know anyone? Just take a minute and imagine what it feels like for someone in those situations.
I was reminded how it feels at a recent reception. I arrived early and out of 100-plus people in the room, I didn’t know anyone! It’s been a long time since I’ve faced that prospect. I was reminded how people can carry on their conversations and not invite outsiders into the conversation.
Mind you, I’m not crying about it. It was just a really good reminder of how we all (me included) need to do a better job of including people. When people don’t feel included, they leave and find support elsewhere.
I know that I lead a very blessed life. With that, I know that it’s my job to help others in need, including those who feel excluded. In helping others, we are leaders, and there’s no better time to lead. People are struggling these days.
As lawyers, many of us are “type A” personalities, the type of people who ignore signs of stress, depression and anxiety. The type of people who refuse to ask for help. The type of people who internalize losses. We have anticipatory anxiety where we worry about everything that MIGHT happen. We lack boundaries for our down time. And we’re isolated now more than ever.
So, what can we do? … WE CAN SIMPLY INCLUDE EACH OTHER.
We need to invite people to join the conversation. We’re all busy. But we still have time to stop, lead and invite someone into the fold.
So the next time you’re in a meeting or at a reception and you see someone new or someone standing alone (whether it’s a young lawyer or an experienced lawyer), talk with them. Be a leader. Ask them for their thoughts. Ask them how they’re doing. Get to know them. They’ll be really grateful, and you’ll feel great too.
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” —Jackie Robinson.
LET’S ALL THRIVE TOGETHER AND MAKE EVERYONE COUNT.
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.