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Lawyers of San Diego is a specialty bar association committed to advancing the status of women in the law and society. We use this space to share articles written about Lawyers Club events and programs and items of interest to our members which are relevant to our mission. The opinions outlined in content published on the Lawyers Club of San Diego blog are those of the authors and not of Lawyers Club. All members are encouraged to participate respectfully in discussions regarding the topics posted on the blog. Guest writers are welcome.

 

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Perfection in the Imperfection: "Defining Ourselves - PART II"

Posted By Alisa Loigman, Monday, January 9, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Defining Ourselves - PART II

PART I of II --- was posted on 1/3/17
 


WHO are YOU?
Take a moment to soak in your response to that question. Grab a note pad. Let’s play with this idea and how to add more congruence of ourselves into the professional arena. Write down your top three best personal qualities (for this exercise, lets refer to these as our “authentic self”). Take a moment to acknowledge how amazing you are. Next, write a list of five ways to appropriately incorporate those qualities into your client or colleague interactions (“action points”). These five action points can be small or large but make sure they are easy to practice and feel peaceful. Now, incorporate more of your authentic self into your daily routine, enacting one per day for one week. As you incorporate more of your authentic self into your professional practice, make note of three things: (1) How did you feel practicing your action points and allowing more of your authentic self to be present at work? (2) Did you notice any differences in your interactions? (3) Did your awareness and presence with your authentic self impact your perception of WHO you are?


I encounter many amazing women in our field and, when we get personal and open up, I often hear the struggle of being too stressed, not having enough time, and feeling like something always has to suffer for something else. I hear guilt and, almost always, that guilt stems from everything that we have internalized. (Because, duh, a professional is serious and not emotionally intelligent. Really?) Sometimes we tell ourselves stories that do not serve our highest good. Does this resonate for you in any part of your life? How can we feel more authentically like ourselves, personally and professionally? I believe that it starts with finding where you can add more of WHO you are into WHAT you do. Be unique. Break the mold. Manifest YOUR dreams. We are the unique qualities we bring to our roles, not simply the individual roles themselves.


I want to take a moment to respect the dynamic beauty that each of you uniquely possess. You’re smart, motivated, passionate, organized, and so much more. Do you remember to see this in your morning routines, meetings, billable hours, work deadlines, personal appointments, and family obligations? Do you remember to acknowledge these radiant parts of yourself? Release the guilt of not being enough; you are enough. Be kind to yourself; you do enough. Give grace to any discomfort that may arise in your journey of growth; you are exactly where you should be. I am in awe of all that you are, all that you are working towards, and everything you have been. WHO are you? You are whole. I am whole. Together, we are whole. I will not hold you back, stifle your growth, or judge you for the journey you are on and the challenges you are overcoming. I stand by your side in support of your fullest potential and greatest desires. Take the tim
e to reflect on the beauty of WHO you are, I do.


This blog was authored by Alisa Loigman.

Tags:  Authentic  Awareness  Balance  Definition  Identify  Intentions  LCB  perfection in the imperfection  Personal  Professional  Qualities  Self  Successful  What  Who 

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Perfection in the Imperfection: "Defining Ourselves - PART I"

Posted By Alisa Loigman, Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Defining Ourselves - PART I

Who are you?  No, no… not what do you do. Who are YOU?

 

When we are busy filling the many roles of life, we often forget to self-identify with WHO we are and not WHAT we do. Yes, what we do can be a large part of our identity but we are not served by defaulting to defining ourselves by our professional titles. The BBC News recently posted an article entitled “Why you shouldn’t ask people what they do” (by Alina Dizik) and one specific sentence grasped my attention: “Even the most successful executives will benefit from disentangling their sense of self from what they do.”

 

Ahh, yes, this got me thinking: WHO am I? (Deep breath, pause) If I answer that question professionally: I am a forensic accountant in the world of litigation and marital dissolution proceedings. If I answer that question personally: I am a dynamic woman, a wild spirit, a humbly soft and down to earth mother, a nurturing wife, and a compassionate friend; I am an individual with great capacity for love, kindness, and drive. Similar to most, I often lead with describing myself professionally, but much prefer the more personal answer.

 

I am sometimes overcome with feeling that WHAT I do overshadows WHO I am in my daily life, that my “self” gets lost in the context of the life roles I play (professional, mother, wife, community volunteer). I spend the majority of my waking time in my office and struggle with leaving that professional persona behind. I want more: to be more; to feel more; to play more; to achieve more. In order to create that abundance, I must first observe the unquestioned part of WHO I am in life and find more ways to bring my authentic self into my professional role. My intention is to create more balance in my life; my long-term success and happiness depends on it. This is the life that feels sustainable, empowering, fulfilling, and impactful. 

PART I of II --- find out who YOU are in Part II, will be posted 1/10/17


This blog was authored by Alisa Loigman. 

Tags:  Authentic  Awareness  Balance  Definition  Identify  Intentions  LCB  perfection in the imperfection  Personal  Professional  Qualities  Self  Successful  What  Who 

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Perspectives from the Periphery of Family Law: "Sending Clients Condolences After a Tragedy"

Posted By Anna Howard, Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Sending Clients Condolences After a Tragedy

            I like sending cards. I congratulate clients when they have a baby, I send them happy anniversary wishes, and I have an assortment of “get well soon” messages, and “in deepest sympathy” cards on hand. I also like efficiency. I have a pre-written email for the questions I field when someone asks me what to do next if their parent passes away. My email includes two attachments about grief, local resources, and a hyperlink to a website all about self-care during times of loss.

            However, no one prepared me for how to address clients who faced a violent terrorist attack in their home town. My work with surrogacy has involved clients living abroad, and I have number of clients from France. One year ago I wrote to them expressing my shock and disbelief at the shootings across the nightclubs and stadium in France. Nearly a year later, I was horrified beyond adequate expression to have to reach out again to address the terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day. I think in these instances, no pre-written or pre-purchased condolence card would suffice in letting them know that my heart was aching for them.

In one letter, I shared with them an article that I found somewhat uplifting. In another, I asked what charities my clients supported and if they wanted me to post online about their experiences. I wanted to make sure my words were sincere and did not come across as “sales-y” or invasive. 

            None of the recipients of these emails were angry (the worst outcome I feared) and many wrote back thanking me for the email. But what got me thinking about sharing this communication was that one or two wrote to me and said I was the first American they knew who had reached out and started a dialogue about the terrorism they witnessed. I was deeply sorry to hear so few of my fellow countrymen and women had sent an email or left them a voicemail. 

            As Lawyers Club members, one of the tenets of our mission is to advance the status of women in law and society. I think one of the hallmarks of being a woman in this industry is providing a kind word or caring tone to a fairly formal and arms-length profession. Another tenet of Lawyers Club is to promote civility in the law, but how does one act civil when reacting to a terrorist attack? For those of you who have a small client base in San Bernardino or Orlando, or who have represented people who have lost their homes to fires or floods, perhaps we should create a larger conversation about how to best express our condolences to clients after a tragedy.

Anna Howard, improving the lives of Californian families, one well-crafted legal document at a time.

EDITOR'S NOTE:This post was slated to be published weeks ago. In light of last night's tragedy in Berlin, its message is even more timely and thought-provoking.

Tags:  balance  client outreach  crisis response  expressing sympathy  LCB  Perspectives from the Periphery of Family Law  sending condolence  solo firm 

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Perfection in the Imperfection: "A Working Mother's Worth"

Posted By Megan O’Neill, Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Working Mother’s Worth

 

Jennifer Aniston released a statement addressing the rampant pregnancy rumors that have haunted her for years. "This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status." While this article focuses on the projection of inadequacy onto women who are not married or have kids, within the professional world I feel a completely different bias. One that women who are married and/or have children are somehow unable to handle the focus or commitment of a demanding career because she is balancing distractions from other areas of her life. A bias towards men (married and single) and single women, that they are somehow sheltered and/or better able to handle the distractions of a home life. So women with families are left to constantly justify and/or define their “value” at home and at work.

 

Perhaps one way to begin to challenge the definition of “value” for women in the workplace is to challenge the long-held standard of time as a measurement of one’s value in a professional career. Someone once told me that it is great that in this day and age I have the choice to enter the workforce and I have the choice to balance family and work. I disagree; I do not really have a choice. We have a choice to go to work, but if we cannot maintain the billable hour requirement, our perceived value suffers. While careers may tolerate our home life, we all continue to be held to the billable hour standard as a measure of our commitment and desirability to promote. I would like to choose to have a career that is challenging and demanding within a firm that allows me to grow and promote all while being flexible to the needs and demands of a family at home. Thankfully, I have found such a work environment but I am aware from conversations with peers just how unusual it is.

 

The film “I Don’t Know How She Does It” starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, navigates the challenges and successes of a professional seeking a partnership role in her firm, while also juggling duties of mother and wife. Sarah’s competition for the position is a single woman who is driven, qualified, hungry and undistracted. I love how the film explores Sarah’s character’s relationships with the PTA moms, with her high profile client, with her co-workers and the partners, and also with her children and her husband. The first time I casually watched the movie my jaw dropped and I felt so validated. While not an award winner, I recommend the movie to everyone!


This blog post was authored by Megan O'Neill

Tags:  balance  billable hours  family  I don't know how she does it  jennifer aniston  perfection in the imperfection  working mom  worklife 

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Perfection in the Imperfection: "Self-Compassion"

Posted By Siobhan Strott, Monday, July 25, 2016
Self-Compassion

I have been feeling it lately. The continuous inner dialogue that, usually a low hum, has reached a deafening scream. You know the feeling. Constantly deciding what gets your attention when a million things are vying for it. Some days/weeks/months, I feel like I’ve got this working mom gig handled. Other times, when every aspect of my life seems to demand my immediate attention, I feel like I’m dropping all of the balls at once.

Before becoming a mother, I poured my energy into my education and later my career. My source of pride was in getting good grades in school and positive reviews at work. Now having a husband and two young children who also deserve the best of me, it’s been a bit of a juggling act to maintain all the areas of my life with that same, limited amount of energy. 

I know you have heard it before: balance. But what does it mean? What do you do when you are preparing for trial, your husband is traveling, and you have a sick child?  It means you do your best with the resources you have. Sometimes work may get neglected and sometimes your family may feel neglected because the truth of it is, you can’t be everything to everyone at the same time.

I have been beating myself up lately. I haven’t made any big mistakes, I just feel like my overall performance has been lacking. I’m either at the office late or taking work home while my kids watch a little too much Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, or I’m leaving early to run to this pediatrician appointment or that school show while I have emails piling up and phone calls not returned.

I recently saw an article in The Atlantic titled, Why Self-Compassion Works Better Than Self-Esteemby Olga Khazan. The author of the article interviews Kristin Neff, a psychology professor at the University of Texas and author of the book, Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind. In the interview, Ms. Neff discusses the pitfalls of focusing on self-esteem, most notably, that to build our own self-esteem, it comes at the cost of putting others down. Instead, she advises, “treating yourself with the same kind of kindness, care, compassion, as you would treat those you care about – your good friends, your loved ones.”

Since reading the article, I have been keeping the notion of self-compassion at the forefront of my inner dialogue. Now that doesn’t mean I give myself a pass for poor work. To me, it means I acknowledge the current situation for exactly what it is and sincerely examine my role, without judgment. 


The thing about life is, it’s messy and imperfect and we are all imperfect humans (as much as we try to deny it). Imperfection has been a difficult lesson for me to internalize and self-compassion is a fairly new concept for me. Going forward, I plan to dig deeper into my definition of self-compassion and I urge you to do the same.  After all, we are all imperfect humans trying to get through this life as best we can. Maybe self-compassion can turn into compassion for each other.

This blog was authored by Siobhan Strott


Tags:  balance  inner strength  insecurity  LCB  perfection in the imperfection  self compassion  self esteem  working mom 

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My So-Called First-World Problems: "Trials"

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Monday, June 27, 2016
Updated: Monday, June 27, 2016

Trials


When I told my then-boss I was pregnant with my second child, he had one question for me. “How are you going to do trials with two kids?” The audacity of the question struck a nerve; I was certain that none of my male colleagues had ever been asked the same question. 

 Four years later, here’s a retrospective on how to do trials (or any other challenging professional thing) because -*gasp*- it is possible.

1. A supportive husband. Yeah, well, it’s a cliché because it is true.

I left the meeting with my boss knowing I had something to prove. So, in my first full calendar year back at work, I tried a dozen cases. My husband picked up the slack. And picked up the children. And dropped off the children. Because I was always in trial. Once, after sending a jury out to deliberate, I left the courtroom and discovered a message from daycare on my voicemail. It was the standard “sick baby, come get him” message. I was relieved my case had concluded so that I could pick up the baby for once. Thankfully, before court recessed, we had agreed to address any jury questions via conference calls. I retrieved the baby from daycare and we sat in my office and I answered jury questions over the phone. The court reporter loved the baby’s interjections!

2. Understood my own limitations. I didn’t reenter the trial world until Baby Zipp the Second was ten months old. By then, he was regularly emptying the dishwasher, in charge of cleaning the bathrooms, and generally contributing to the smooth operation of the household. His older brother was three, able to pour himself a bowl of cereal in the morning, and fold his own laundry. So life had become, in a word, seamless.

3. Gave in. I am a whole person, not a trial robot.  Once, after winning a case, I picked up my child from day care, looked at him and realized he could care less. He did not care that I won. He would not care if I lost. It’s nice to have somebody in your life who does not give a fig about your professional successes or failures. My somebodies are my kids, and I can only compartmentalize them so much. Look, you can skip the Tuesday bath, and maybe the Wednesday bath, but by Thursday, you gotta do the bath. Having to attend to the minutiae of non-work areas of our lives can help in terms of gaining a little perspective, as well as a reprieve. 


4. 
Worked sick. Generally speaking, working sick is more practical than trying to work when the child is sick. When the child is sick, someone has to stay at home.  When mom is sick, mom can power through. (Except once I had pneumonia and couldn’t work. So I didn’t – see Item 2.)

*

My boss’ question was ridiculous. If only I had had the presence of mind of former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder (D-CO), I would have told him, “I have a brain and I have a uterus and fortunately, they both work.”

This blog post was authored by Rebecca Zipp

 

Tags:  balance  blog  kids  lawyer  LCB  My So-Called First-World Problems  working mom 

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