Ensure Job Security In Your Legal Career

by Paula M. Jones
“If you don’t manage yourself, someone else is going to manage you.” At a recent conference I was speaking to a man who had worked for a large company and had been downsized after about twenty years.  The loss of his job had been devastating to him.  He felt there was nothing else he was qualified to do for a living and had absolutely no idea what to do next.  He had gone home, tried to regroup and went back to looking for a job the way he had twenty years before – by looking through job listings.  Nothing appealed to him.

Fortunately, a good friend of his sat him down to talk through all possible options.  Doing this helped the man...

Why Some Things Trigger Us - And Others Don't

by Paula M. Jones
If you’re hysterical, it’s historical. - Anonymous I had been having problems with my email lately. I dreaded calling technical support, since my experience in the past involved sitting for a long time on hold and listening to someone reading from a script instead of thinking creatively about my problem. However, since I could not fix the problem myself and I felt I had no other options, I called my internet service provider’s technical support line.

True to form, after thirty minutes on the phone we had barely moved past the point where I had repeated my name and account number to four different people. Then, after another hour on the phone while attempting to solve my problem, the technical support representative...

People Skills in the Legal Industry Can Make All the Difference

by Paula M. Jones
It is you – and no one else that creates your thoughts, your feelings and your actions.  – Peter Shepard Yesterday my colleague called me up for a vent session.  She had prepared a really complicated tax filing for a client and the client responded by sending a list of about fifteen things she thought was wrong with it.  Well, the clients concerns were all unfounded and my colleague patiently and politely addressed each and every complaint.  The client apologized for her snippy e-mail and stated that taxes made her anxious.

It was really nice to get an acknowledgement from the client that her behavior was unacceptable.  Everyone gets snippy once in a while and its entirely forgivable.  Unfortunately, this particular client...

How Young Lawyers Can Pick A Mentor Invested In Their Success

by Paula M. Jones
People who are ‘brutally honest’ are more interested in brutality than in honesty. – Alan Cohen Every now and then a new attorney reaches out to me and asks for career advice. I am always happy to help, since mentoring is rare in the legal profession and I remember how difficult entering the profession was for me almost twenty years ago. It is not uncommon for attorneys of all experience levels to need support, either. After all, a competitive firm culture can turn into a cutthroat one fairly easily. There is a good reason why there are the same number of attorneys leaving the profession each year as entering it. The legal work isn’t the problem – it’s the fact that...

Five Myths About Gender That Inhibit Workplace Equality

by Paula M. Jones
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.” – Alice Walker Once again the issue of equality and respect for women in the workplace is making its way into the headlines. I’m inspired by the new vitality in the hopeful younger generation regarding the issue because I have been quite tired from the lack of progress for women over my 30 year career.

Despite practicing law for the past 20 years, I have never viewed law as a means by which we can change human behavior or the way people think. Plato said, “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the...

Anxious During Firm Interviews? Try This To Calm Down

by Paula M. Jones
“To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self..” – Soren Kierkegaard I have several colleagues who get really nervous during interviews. They are all very accomplished in their fields and any organization would be lucky to have them. One man sweats uncontrollably, to the point where the damp begins to seep through his shirt. Another colleague loses her train of thought and forgets to make the most salient points about her work. A third colleague gets so nervous he really is unable to listen to what questions are being asked and he comes across as vague and scattered. Unfortunately, all report that they have been unable to land opportunities that would have been a perfect fit,...

Hitting the Glass Ceiling At Your Firm?

by Paula M. Jones
You are not given a dream unless you have the capacity to fulfill it. – Jack Canfield It’s a Monday morning at 8 am and I’ve just jumped off the elliptical machine. I don’t have to get in my car to race through traffic for any reason. I don’t feel any pressure to show up at an office full of people who insist on face time. I don’t have to worry about finding enough work to meet an impossible billable hour requirement. Instead, I know what I want to accomplish today and I will do it in the way that works best for me and for my clients. I haven’t felt that kind of freedom in…well, ever.

Recently I made the monumental...

How to Overcome Bias in the Legal Industry

by Paula M. Jones
“Preconceived notions are locks on the doors to wisdom.” Forty years ago, when I was in grade school, I remember learning about the women’s rights movement and the civil rights movement. I remember thinking about these recent historical events as struggles that were now resolved, since, surely, everyone would have learned by now to view people as equals. I chuckle thinking of my naivete. I have often wondered, over my thirty year career, if issues of discrimination and bias have really changed or if they ever will.

I believe that the most effective and lasting way to combat bias in an organization is for its members to bring their own personal prejudices to self-awareness. The result? On a micro level, members’ treatment...

Is Your Boss a Perfectionist?

by Paula M. Jones
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” – Anne Lamott Have you ever encountered the kind of people who expect the impossible from others? They view anything less than perfection as a failure. They hyper-focus on your mistakes and they never seem to notice all the things that you do right. You, my friend, have encountered a perfectionist. While at first blush this term may seem like a compliment, the reality is that it is not. Perfectionists should really be called “imperfectionists” because they don’t look for the perfection in others - they look for their imperfections.

There is a difference between a person with high standards and a Perfectionist. High Standards people are positive people who appreciate and strive for excellence....

When to Say “No Thanks” To A Job Offer

by Paula M. Jones
You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. William Faulkner When I first graduated from law school I had a successful interview at a small firm. We discussed employment terms, including salary and a start date and they told me they would send a formal offer letter. The letter never arrived and after leaving several phone messages over the next few weeks, I finally was told that the firm was not going to hire anyone new.

I still remember the devastation I felt after finally realizing that my very first job offer to practice law was never going to arrive. I had spent weeks telling everyone about my new job and had finally...

Is Self-Employment For You?

by Paula M. Jones
Being a self-employed means you work 12 hours a day for yourself so you don't have to work 8 hours a day for someone else. - Oliver Markus Malloy After twenty years at law firms, I left with my book of business and opened up my own practice. Words really can’t express the sheer happiness I have experienced since then. I bill fewer hours but take home significantly higher compensation. I actually enjoy practicing law again. I am finally able to combine my international practice with my love of travel, resulting in more trips abroad to meet with clients and expand my network. As my mentors and colleagues had assured me just prior to venturing out on my own, I wish...