June 9, 2017
Seek balance, don’t fear change
By Melaine Shannon Rothey
To paraphrase another president, this job is more work than in my previous life; however, unlike the other president, I did not think that it would be easier. Actually, I am not sure what I thought being president of the ACBA would entail. While I knew from sitting on the Board of Governors that the association is extremely well run, I am certain that I did not realize how many weekly meetings and events – not to mention hundreds of emails and telephone calls – it takes to organize 70 divisions/sections/committees, produce a daily publication, edit a twice-monthly journal, provide quality CLEs and pull off our premier yearly event – the Bench-Bar Conference.
To merely say “thank you” to Dave Blaner, Diane McMillen, Alysia Keating, Brian Knavish, Brian Estadt, Michele Greenway and Jann Dalton for their guidance and assistance over the past year seems completely inadequate. I recognize that they are being paid for the work that they perform. But what you may not know is that they do not just do a good job, each is truly dedicated to the association. Each of them, along with the employees that they supervise, gives a full days’ work every day. They don’t phone it in. They don’t go only halfway. Rather, they follow-up to provide the answer to a question, they make sure that every event is a success, they refuse to leave a task half done and they make the president’s job a pleasure.
I am happy to say that I have received several favorable responses to my President’s Messages. I have enjoyed writing them and opining on matters that I believe to be essential to the future of our profession. Allow me to reiterate a few specifics.
Initially, remember that there are four generations of lawyers practicing today – the Silent Generation, the Baby Boomers, the Gen X-ers and the Millennials. Each of these generations has its positives and its negatives. We can learn from both aspects. We do not always have to agree with opposing counsel or with the judge; however, we must disagree in a civil and respectful manner, whether in open court or in a pleading or in correspondence. Bad attitudes and nastygrams have no place in our profession.
Work/life balance – the line between work and home has become seriously blurred. We have to figure out a way to “check out” of the office. We have to take some serious, uninterrupted time for ourselves and our families. I know that you find this hard to believe, but the office will survive without you. It took me many years to realize that fact, but it is true.
Change – change is not a bad thing. Just because we “always did it this way” does not mean that we should not try a new way to do things. At the very least, those of us that have been doing it the same way for many years should listen and entertain a new option or procedure.
Mentoring – we must mentor each other. To the Silent Generation and the Boomers, be patient with the young’uns. They really do want to learn. They will catch on and will probably improve upon the technique. Gen-Xers and Millennials, be patient with us. We are not trying to make you crazy. We are just resistant to change.
Remember the five lessons from Dr. Seuss: BE YOURSELF – Who else do you want to be? MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE – Isn’t that the reason most of us went to law school? NEVER STOP LEARNING – Knowledge for the sake of knowledge. IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE – Do I really have to continue to repeat the necessity of work/life balance? BE POSITIVE – We are surrounded by negativity all day long.
Remember the lessons that my parents taught me – “Clean off your own porch before you try to clean off someone else’s porch,” “Treat others as you want to be treated,” and “Geese always drop out of the flock formation to help one of their fellow fliers who goes down.”
Finally, in the words of my favorite children’s author:
If I were in charge of the world
A chocolate sundae with whipped cream and
Nuts would be a vegetable.
All 007 movies would be G.
And a person who sometimes forgot to brush,
And sometimes forgot to flush,
Would still be allowed to be
In charge of the world.