In this day and age of so much stress in our lives, short tempers and fuses, technology overload, pressure of balance in both our work and our life, I was really taken by the following quote by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948); Indian Political and Spiritual Leader.
How does the quote speak to you? For me, it really represents a life-lesson about how to conduct myself. I learned my own valuable lesson many, many years ago to be careful in this area. Some days, I am probably better at it than others, but this quote is now hanging over my desk and will serve as a reminder to me.
What about you? What does the quote mean to you?
I also bet some of you are thrilled this one is so brief!!
Thanks for checking in,
Aside Posted on Updated on
Almost 5 years ago now the Foundation asked for us to consider an event that would be exclusive to the Foundation. “What about a Foundation Luncheon?” was one of the suggestions, and you have me to thank when I came back with a determined “NO” because we don’t need another community luncheon. I was fully supportive of the idea of an event but asked for some time to explore other Foundation fundraiser ideas from all of my bar friends. When exploring a national bar website through the ABA I learned about an event held in Virginia called Jazz For Justice. They partnered with the music department of a local college, and in that instant I knew we had a winner.
After all, Rochester is the home of the world re-known Eastman School of Music, not to mention home to the Rochester International Jazz Festival. We reside in the Telesca Center for Justice — the only model of its kind in the nation where the bar association, along with the bar foundation, all co-locate with civil legal service providers. With that, Elaine Cole and I called on the late Doug Lowry, the Dean of the Eastman School of Music at that time, and sought his support for providing the musical talent. Dean Lowry responded by telling us that at this time he was receiving over a 1,000 requests each year seeking an opportunity to collaborate with their talented musicians, and the majority of these requests were denied. But not ours because Dean Lowry really liked the mission and vision of the event — it was all about justice. And with that, Jazz for Justice was born! At this year’s event, we will be honoring Dean Lowry.
On Friday, March 21st, we will be celebrating the 4th Annual Jazz For Justice. The event is co-chaired this year by Bruce Lawrence, Foundation President-Elect, and Jennifer Meldrum, a tireless young lawyer leader. Jazz For Justice is all about incredible music, delicious food from all over Rochester, wine and beer to enjoy with friends, a wonderful silent and live auction, but most of all it is about having an event that is about pure fun! There are no long speeches. There are no CLE credits to pick up. There is no required seating. For $50/person, this is a really nice way to spend the evening with your spouse, partner, love interest, friend, colleagues, family or neighbors. For that very reasonable amount you will go home full and happy.
But most of all, you will support the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar, your Foundation, in continuing to do really good work, supporting the Rochester Diversity Clerkship Program, or the DEAFund, the Rochester Teen Court Program.
This is a Jazz casual event — so come however the spirit moves your inner jazz soul. I am thinking about wearing my very cool red cowboy boots again, but need to figure out the rest of the outfit so my jazz spirit is moved! So come on — it has been a long, cold winter. A night of good jazz, food and drink, and lots of great people could be as great as a warm spring day.
Registration is super easy –http://www.mcba.org/Foundation/JazzforJustice/Register/. Oh by the way, the event is held at Harro East, 155 North Chestnut Street and valet parking will be available.
So please join me for a night of jumping jazz.
Claire will be a Senior at Bentley University next fall, and is beginning to feel the pressure of “the real world”, and all that this represents. Is graduate school in her immediate future? Or does she start working first, and then build in graduate school on a part-time basis? And then of course, there is the harsh reality of school loans. As the mom of three, I have always been a firm believer that the kids need to go into their college educations with some skin in the game, and therefore, they all have some loans, and held jobs down while in school. And I have a commitment to each of them to help them at some level as they graduate. But as a parent, I would be lying if I did not admit some level of anxiety for Claire as she graduates in May of 2015 into a world of unknowns. Fortunately Bentley has a placement rate of 97%, and Claire is bright and capable, so I am confident she will land a position.
Brian almost chose law school 3 years ago, and instead opted for PGA School and life as a club & teaching golf pro, where he is gainfully employed at a wonderful course in Nashville, paying his bills and is happy in his life. And I am happy that he did not opt for law school, and that I am not the mother of a young, new law school graduate competing with thousands of other lawyers for so few jobs.
According to the ABA, in 2011-12 the number of 1L law school students across 201 law schools was 48,697. That’s a lot of graduates hitting the job search pavement.
So as Executive Director of the MCBA, I cannot help but wear my “Mom hat” sometimes in the presence of our young attorneys that are job hunting, or hanging their shingle as a solo, and worrying about them as well. On a daily basis now this group of members is on my mind. Just last week the Membership Committee approved two waivers for dues to young attorneys. And just yesterday in the Academy of Law meeting, I heard a report that request for CLE fee waivers is on the increase more now than ever before. What was alarming here is that the waivers were not only for new lawyers, but also for some experienced lawyers, that are obviously struggling.
This population of members is frequently on my mind of late. I am talking with the MCBA’s Strategic Planning Committee about the situation, and seeking their input. Last night I had a brief conversation with President Diane Cecero on this topic as well. And as a mom of a new young lawyer, she understands this issue. Her son, Stephen Whelan, is a hardworking young attorney at a firm in Washington, D.C. However, in our brief conversation Diane understood the point I was raising, and agreed that some reflection and dialogue on this topic would be useful in order that we can better respond to MCBA can respond to our members, and future members.
Here is what we are currently doing:
- Robust and active Solo & Small Firm Committee — whether or not you are running a solo practice, this is a great place to network and learn from others.
- Plus 7 other substantive sections and more than 30 engaged committees — all doing great work.
- Active Solo & Small Firm Listserv — great information shared with many learning opportunities as well. Not to mention, potential for client referrals. Contact Liz Novak at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be added.
- Robust and active Young Lawyers Section — a wonderful opportunity for new lawyers to get involved. The section is hosting a new admittee welcome reception at an Amerks game on Wednesday, March 12. Click here for more details.
- Use of Conference Rooms — just ask Ryan Woodworth, a young attorney that is busy growing his practice, and since his office is in his home, he is making use of his member benefit of using conference rooms in the MCBA to meet clients. Now, if this demand becomes so great, we may have to expand to conference rooms throughout the Telesca Center for Justice, but there are plenty.
- Access to an MCBA work station — due to damage to the 10th floor from water damage through the roof, the MCBA has recently, thanks to insurance, replaced carpet on the 10th floor, resulting in the reconfiguration of some spaces. From that exercise, we are in the process of creating two member work stations, complete with phone and a computer. These are not up and running yet, but we hope to have these functional in the next 30 days. (If anyone or any firms have two healthy desk top computers they would be willing to donate to this cause, please let me know. We don’t need the software, just the hardware. Please contact me directly at email@example.com, I would be most grateful.)
- Mentor for a Moment — The Mentor for a Moment program is a members only program (you will need your username and password to log in) that list attorneys mentors with 10-plus years in specific practice areas that have volunteered to be available for a phone call or email for new or young attorneys. Please feel free to reach out to anyone on the list in a practice area relevant to you. We are still looking for mentors. Please check out the Mentor Application for the application with the various practice areas.
- Networking & Fun at the BarSTOP — the creation of the BarSTOP was intended to create a monthly gathering place for members to come to both network and socialize. These are a great time, and the attendees are of all generations from Wende Knapp, YLS Chair, and Laura Myers and Penny Dentinger and other young attorneys, to Paul MacAulay, Bruce Lawrence, Andrew Brown, Phil Hurwitz, Eileen Buholtz, Judge Frank Geraci, Judge Paul Warren, Connie Walker, Diane Cecero, Steve Modica and Justin Vigdor — and I know I am leaving folks out…please don’t be upset with me!
So the question is — what more should we do? What more can we do? My Strategic Planning Committee will challenge me, maybe even fuss at me, for writing this blog on this particular topic, but first and foremost we are a membership association. In my mind, that translates to supporting our members in their profession of the practice of law. In my mind, this is our primary mission. What do you think? Should we be doing more? If so, what does that mean? Can we find a way to introduce these new attorneys to contract work to at least build some experience while giving you some breathing room? If so, how do we do that? Are you willing to be part of the dialogue? Are you willing to help your young colleagues, or your peers that may be struggling with unemployment?
As Liz mentioned in last week’s blog, the Membership Committee is working on a series of surveys targeted to different groups as we understand that different groups have different needs. Please watch for these surveys, and take the time to respond. We all can work together for the bigger picture — a better bar that is responsive and indispensable to the needs of our members no matter what stage of their life they are in.
Thanks for checking in….
Last week, I had the privilege of attending the ABA Midyear meeting for the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE). Since I joined the MCBA almost 7 years ago, I have belonged to NABE and its Communications Section for obvious reasons — as I was originally hired as the organization’s Communications Manager. Through the years, my role here at the Association has evolved to include membership and eventually our Foundation.
My title is “Membership, Communications and Foundation Manager,” and to me, it makes perfect sense that “Membership” is the first word as without our members, the rest would not exist. In the past, I have attended NABE Communications Section workshops but was unable to do so this year. As much of my work now is focused on membership, retention and benefits, when the opportunity arose to attend the Midyear meeting (as both Mary and Diane were not able to attend), I decided to take advantage…and am happy I did.
The underlying theme of the conference was change and adapting to it. One of my favorite quotes from the conference by the opening speaker Curt Garbett of RedTree Leadership & Development was “Change is neither good nor bad, it just is.”
I attended several different sessions, but there were two that I found particularly valuable: one on new lawyers and the challenges they face and one on membership development. And for both sessions, change was a key point – how the landscape for new lawyers has changed and is changing; and how members view associations and the reasons for joining (or not joining) is changing.
Attending a professional conference is often a mixed bag of humility versus ego. Last week, I learned things we could do better, but I also patted my proverbial shoulder a couple of times for what we do well.
But the question you may be asking is how does attending a conference translate to you – our members. As I sat in one session, I thought about how we promote our benefits to you and which ones we choose to highlight to you. We here at the MCBA focus our attention on telling you what our benefits are and why you should renew or join because of those benefits, but maybe that needs to change. Instead, we could listen to what you view as the benefits and reasons for joining the MCBA.
Of course, what one sees as a reason for joining may vary by practice area and particularly by office setting. If you’re working in a government or public sector, you may see the reasons for belonging to the MCBA very differently than a colleague who is a solo practitioner or a young lawyer. And a brand new lawyer may see the reasons for belonging different than young lawyers.
Maybe 10, 20, 30 years ago this wasn’t the case – you simply joined the bar association as your professional organization as soon as you were admitted and stayed a member until you retired. That’s simply what you did. But the landscape has changed for everyone — and particularly for new lawyers who have graduated from law school in the past five years. With fewer jobs out there and increasing student loan debt, more new attorneys are going out on their own. People all over are looking at how they spend money and asking before they make a purchase: Am I going to use it? This goes for associations, athletic clubs, and preferred customer cards at a store – anything that requires payment to belong. People ask their friends: Is it worth it to join? When it comes to the MCBA, I want the answer to be yes.
What one group needs from the Association is very different than what another may need. For example, we have one young attorney who uses our conference rooms one or twice per week to meet with his clients. He needs a room to meet with his clients, and this is a benefit we offer to members. As a solo, young attorney, this is a significant benefit to him. However, to an attorney who works at a large firm downtown, this benefit probably doesn’t even register.
Our challenge here is to create enough meaningful and relevant benefits for all – despite the ever-changing landscape.
The first step in doing that is asking you what the key issues are for your practice in your particular office setting, age group, practice, etc. today. The only way we will know if you find value in your membership is if you tell us; the only way we will know if the new benefits we launched last year served you is if you tell us; and the only way we will know if as a association we are relevant to you and your practice is if you tell us. The path to relevance needs to be a direct route – and that’s through you.
At our membership committee meeting this week we will be discussing potential membership surveys to be distributed in the near future. I use the plural version as we will be looking at a variety of surveys that target specific segments — e.g. solo/small firm attorneys, large firms, new lawyers. The results from these surveys will help us as we plan for next year.
In the meantime, you don’t have to wait for a survey. If you have any feedback or input how we can be more relevant to you and your practice, please let me know. You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call 402-7193.
I thank you for your membership, your participation and for taking the time to read this.
Every week I spend some time pondering my topic for the week’s blog. I ask my Communications Team, Liz and Dae, to send some ideas my way, and they are always very good about it. But today I spent some time reading back through some old blogs and noted a pattern. In many of the blogs I am asking for feedback — from you — the valued members of the MCBA.
But there is a problem, and I am really concerned about it. I have been back and forth in my head as to whether or not I say anything to you. I lie awake at night wondering whether or not something is wrong, and asking myself, should I say something. I finally decided I need to talk with you about it. I like to think we have an open relationship and we can talk honestly with each other.
So here goes. I write and write and write these blogs, and in many of them, I am seeking your input and counsel. My question is this — why have you never written back? To be completely forthcoming, there are about 3 of you that write back on a regular basis: Barbara Orenstein, Sharron Porcellio and Gene Clifford — and thank god they do. A few of you have written once on a particular topic, but not often. It is easy to feel a slight onset of paranoia!!
Here are some of the themes and questions I have been asking over time:
Awards Committee — last week I wrote about what an honor it was to be celebrated recently as an Athena Finalist. I went on to say we all deserve to be celebrated. The purpose of last week’s blog was to encourage you to nominate a friend or a colleague for one of the many MCBA or Foundation Awards. I have not received any nominations.
Social Media — how are we using it? Is it an effective form of communication to you? We have lots of friends out there, because you join the various media platforms, but we never hear from you?!
BarSTOP — this is our new 3rd Thursday of every month tradition at 5pm at the Hyatt. We came up with this idea because there were repeated requests in recent member surveys for more social events that provided opportunities for networking. So we created BarSTOP — a no registration required, free event. These are great events, but I am really hoping to hit 75 attendees this month. Please join us on Thursday, February 20th at 5:00 p.m. Bring friends and colleagues!!
Mentoring — remember that one? I wrote about the person that gave me my first opportunity. Sister Mary Alice Roach. I was calling on all of you to think back to the person that believed in you that first time, and gave you your first chance, and to come back to us and sign up to be a mentor. If I could collect a dollar for every member that has recommended that we need mentors for the young attorneys, I could take myself away for a nice weekend vacation.
And then of course, I have had countless blogs trying to engage you in talking to me about ideas for new member benefits. This is what we are all about? Membership. Benefits. Services. Opportunities. Engagement. Help me/us do it better!!
And to all of these, with the exception of Sharron, Barb and Gene, you have been incredibly quiet and unresponsive. And I know you – you are not a group that lacks opinion. I know you are busy attorneys and I don’t mean this to be a burden, but your feedback is valuable. I think we are pretty good about soliciting opinions. In reality, we can’t make everything happen, but you know we will work hard to fulfill as much as we can.
So HELLO — is anyone out there? Is anyone listening? How can we make this a better bar? I can’t do it without you!
Thanks for checking in…
Just about two weeks ago, I was given the honor of being one of the 13 finalists for the Women’s Council Athena Award. I have to tell you, it was an incredible honor, and humbling. I recall my first meeting with the other 12 finalists, and a little bit of the “why am I here?” feeling started to kick in. On the day of the luncheon, in the room of 800+ people, I looked out from the dais to see so many extraordinary women in attendance at the luncheon, and once again I asked myself, “so why am I here?” The Women’s Council manages to make ALL of the finalists feel celebrated from the moment you learn the news when a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrives in your office, with a letter carrying the news. After that it is a series of events, introductions and getting to know 12 other incredible women leaders. On the day it was wonderful to be joined by my mom, two of my children, two of my brothers, the MCBA staff, members of the Board and lots of other friends and members in the audience. It was a great day! Only sad part about not being the “recipient” is that I had prepared some brief remarks that were all about bragging rights on the incredible, hardworking lawyers we have in Rochester.
Hard work is part of the DNA my parents passed on to me and my 5 brothers. My oldest brother, Peter, ran a business college in Prague. My second brother, David, just returned to Rwanda yesterday where he is the Executive Director of a CHABHA (a program that is assisting children that are living with AIDS/HIV or were orphaned as a result of the disease and the unrest in Rwanda). My third brother, Mark is a chef at the B&B Ranch in Cooperstown. Fourth brother, Tom, assumed the reigns from my Dad and took over the family business, R. G. Loewenguth Company, a very successful metrology and gauging representative. And the youngest brother, Eric, also a very successful salesman, like his Dad and brother, Tom, with Seimens. (Eric is the guy we call when Mom needs a new set of hearing aids, which is all too frequent since she loses them). Like all of you, we work because we need to provide for our families, and because we love what we do.
We don’t work to receive kudos or daily praise, but I’d be lying if I did not say, as humans, we do value those moments when someone says, “Hey, nice job!”
In my case, the Athena nomination was made even more sweet in that it came from our good friends at GRAWA. It was GRAWA’s Nominating Committee that led the charge on my nomination, with letters of support from my president, Diane Cecero, and Partnership Campaign Chair, Justin Vigdor. I have valued my relationship with GRAWA since the very beginning, and have always worked hard to support them, and in return, they welcome me as a “member”. Considering all the great women of GRAWA, the fact that I was nominated by them, made it all that much more meaningful.
As bar associations, we look for opportunities to celebrate our members and their many accomplishments. Just this week down in New York City at the New York State Bar Association meeting, our past president, Connie O. Walker received the Kay Crawford Murray Award, given by the Committee on Women in the Law of the New York State Bar Association. This award is presented to an attorney who enhances diversity in the profession and advances the professional development of women attorneys. Connie deserves to be celebrated for all she does in the MCBA and in the community.
Like GRAWA’s Awards Committee, the MCBA has its own Awards Committee whose purpose is to review potential awards, and submit nominations of our members for consideration. In her second year as Chair, Beth McDonald, is a tireless advocate for celebrating her colleagues and their hard work. Now in the first quarter of the new calendar year, Beth and her small, but dedicated committee, are encouraging members to submit nominations for the many awards presented at Law Day and the Installation Dinner. Amongst the awards we will be celebrating:
The Outstanding Jurist Award – From the Association and presented at Law Day. Nominations due: March 5.
The Humanitarian Award – From the Foundation and presented at Law Day. Nominations due: January 31.
The Adolph J. Rodenbeck Award – From the Association and presented at Law Day. Nominations due: March 5
The Charles F. Crimi Award – From the Association and presented at the Annual Installation Dinner. Nominations due: March 28.
The Raymond J. Pauley Award– From the Academy of Law and presented at the Annual Installation Dinner. Nominations due: March 28.
Senior Attorney Award for Service – From the Association and presented at the Annual Installation Dinner. Nominations due: March 28.
Emerging Bar Leader Award – From the Association and presented at the Annual Installation Dinner. Nominations due: March 28.
When I walk through the hallways and meeting rooms of the MCBA and the Telesca Center for Justice, seeing so many of you on a regular basis, attending one of our 32 committee and section meetings, presenting a CLE, working for the Foundation on Jazz For Justice, or supporting one of the legal service partners in the Center, I think we need to find a way to award all of you. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. However, I do wish to take this moment to encourage you to think of nominating a friend or colleague for one of the many awards presented in the months ahead.
For me, being recognized with another group of successful women, many of them non-profit Executive Directors, or leaders of for-profits, it was being recognized and celebrated with your peers that made it all so meaningful. So I encourage you to take a few minutes to read over the various award criteria, and consider nominating a friend or colleague. None of us are ever comfortable having the lime light on us, but if we can get comfortable with that, and with accepting the praise, we must admit — it is a lovely feeling. Not to mention, you earn a little more respect from your younger brothers and children, if only for a short while, because they are proud of you.
Lastly, if you are interested in being one of the Award Committee Champions that prepare, develop and review the nominations for submission, I know Beth McDonald would welcome your participation on the committee. Please give me or Beth a call.
Thanks for checking in. Stay warm…