• Legal Practice

    Mistakes at Work: how to avoid them & how to fix them

    While in school, I often heard that the big difference between medical school and law school was that no one’s life was at stake. Technically true. While no mistake we make as attorneys will cost someone their life (excluding criminal defense lawyers—no pressure), the fact is that big mistakes still can impact a client’s life in big ways. We’re entrusted to handle sensitive, consequential matters that may not be life and death, but will often affect the quality of life for that client. Unfortunately, we’re human and mistakes will happen. Part of growing into your job means learning how to independently manage all the required steps in your work so…

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  • Legal Practice,  Work Life Balance

    Cultural Conflict: Finding the Balance between Keeping it Real and Selling Out

    One of the my favorite IG pics is Kermit, reminding us that we can all turn hood if we need to—and even for those of us that didn’t grow up “hood,” as people of color, we code-switch all the time. When we decide to play the game of being an attorney/joining a professional field we have to take stock of what it takes to be successful in that field and decide whether or not to assimilate to those standards. Speaking quietly, acting obedient, dressing modestly, and doing everything possible to not seem Brown is expected in seemingly all areas—even wine trains; but especially in the legal field. For example, I…

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  • Law School

    Mid-Summer Self-Review

    Many internship/summer associate positions undergo a mid-summer review to get an assessment of your summer experience.  While these reviews can provide important feedback and opportunities for different experiences, it is also important that you do an honest self-review of your own work.  Sometimes, as interns, we go through the motions and just live for the weekend, or at most, the end of your internship where you’ll get to have a little bit of summer vacation before the academic year begins.  It’s easy to forget the forest for the trees.  The forest being your first job post-law school/professional reputation. Even if you don’t like the agency, or are convinced that this…

  • Legal Practice

    Mastering the Business Lunch

    One summer I participated in a program where I interacted with a lot of private attorneys. This resulted in a lot of business lunches, which was fun, but there were also some cringe-inducing moments. I remember one lunch where a coworker’s main focus seemed to be figuring out how many glasses of wine he could drink. This wasn’t a lunch among friends or even same-level staff, but rather with clients and supervisors! Needless to say his behavior ended up being super awkward. Now that it’s summer (though it’s constantly raining here in Chicago), there are more opportunities to step outside the office for networking lunches, and of course, if you…

  • Legal Practice,  Work Life Balance

    Style Matters: Shoes for the Law Office

    Caveats before we begin: My shoe opinion is colored by two experiences: shadowing an attorney in my best “business-y” clothes as a high school student and becoming embarrassed by the fact that because the heels were a little too chunky (early 2000’s y’all) that they made loud noises on the stairs, and that I couldn’t walk as fast as him, which was annoying. My slower walk wasn’t because I was a novice to heels (hello, I rocked Rocket Dog and Steve Madden platforms all the time–again, early 2000s), but rather the fact that generally most people cannot walk as fast in heels as a someone wearing non-heeled shoes.  Second, an…

  • Issues,  Legal Practice

    Executive Presence: Gaining Respect at Work

    About a year ago, I started noticing an odd trend at work.  People would ask for my advice on how to move ahead on a project; I would give them my advice; and then they would hurry off to get a second opinion, as if they didn’t trust what I had to say.  Once I realize that this kept happening, I got a little annoyed.  On the one hand, I see the value in getting a second opinion, but if you are constantly re-confirming what I’m telling you then stop wasting my time and just get your first opinion from someone else, you know?  Obviously, that is not the right attitude…