Last week, I heard a powerful speech by a woman whose father has Alzheimer's. Patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's suffer terribly, as do their loved ones. As a result of her father's diagnosis, this woman - the speaker - has made an interesting choice. She has made the choice to empower herself in the face of the disease. Instead of operating under the premise that she will not suffer the same fate as her father, she decided that if the disease comes for her, she is going to be ready. "If the monster wants you, the monster is going to get you," she says, but she is beating it a different way: she is preparing herself physically (by being in shape so her body will be strong even if her mind is weak), mentally (by engaging in hobbies that will be easy to continue even as her mind slows), and emotionally (by showing her loved ones that she loves them in the event there comes a time when she can no longer express this). Strength in the face of adversity, walking head on into challenge, thinking about problems creatively - these are the things amazing people are made of.
The Alzheimer's speech made me think about the changes we are facing in the legal community as of late. Preparing for and embracing change, thinking creatively about how to deal with change, and succumbing to things that are out of our control pertain in both scenarios.
Law firms, especially, are experiencing significant changes. Some are experiencing rapid growth, while others are losing attorneys and practice groups daily. Others still are closing their doors and hundreds of lawyers, partners and associates alike, are in search of work.
These growing pains are difficult. Stressful. Uncomfortable. But they can be construed positively, and even redefined, if only we can see them in the right light.
1. View Everything As An Opportunity
Early on when I launched Greenhorn Legal, I was told to view everything that came my way, good or bad, as an opportunity. This was a powerful message for me, and has stayed with me. While in the moment, particularly when things go wrong, it is difficult to decipher how something might possibly amount to an opportunity, the answer will come if you give yourself time and space to see it.
2. Prepare For Change
Not unlike the message from the woman whose father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, there is value in preparing for all of the changes that will occur throughout your career. There is no sense in acting as though you or your firm or your practice will be exempt from change. Law firms (and other professional practices) are fluid places. People come and go. Management changes. Emphases change. The best you can hope for is that you have done good work, built meaningful relationships, and made strong impressions so that when the people you have practiced with are looking to refer clients or cases, or hire new attorneys, you are top of mind.
3. Accept Change
Not only should you be prepared for change, it is liberating to accept change. It is only through change that we are exposed to new things, and made stronger and better because of it.
Desiree Moore is the President and founder of Greenhorn Legal, LLC. Greenhorn Legal offers intensive practical skills training programs for law students and new lawyers as they transition from law school into their legal practices. Ms. Moore is also an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and was an associate at the law firm of K&L Gates. She can be found on Twitter at @greenhornlegal.