Gillman Strategic Group is pleased to announce that Erin Alli has joined the firm as its Operations Manager. Erin will handle the day-to-day operations of Gillman Strategic Group including the management of client and vendor relationships, strategic growth planning, networking, and marketing support.
“Erin and I began working together on a few minor projects when I first started Gillman Strategic Group. As my business grew, I used Erin more and more to the point of becoming her largest client. It became clear that I needed Erin full-time and that she would be a great fit. Her work ethic, knowledge, intelligence and personality are a great asset to Gillman Strategic Group, our clients and our strategic partners,” says Jennifer Gillman, President of Gillman Strategic Group.
Before joining Gillman Strategic Group, Erin was a virtual assistant for 15 years. She is Certified as a copywriter with American Writer and Artist Institute, and a member of the Professional Writers Alliance. Erin earned her degree in Graphic Design. Outside of work, Erin enjoys the outdoors, hiking and camping with her family and is an avid reader. She also has 6 rescue pets, 3 dogs and 3 cats.
Gillman Strategic Group, LLC, led by Jennifer Gillman, is a “law firm matchmaker” that helps successful partners find a better fit at a new firm. Gillman Strategic Group works with individual partners and groups of lawyers who have their own clients, but struggle with keeping those clients happy and maximizing their own compensation, because their current firm is simply the wrong fit. Gillman Strategic Group works with clients in New Jersey, New York, and Florida.
I recently read the articleAfter COVID-19 Hiring Slowdown, Lateral Moves Pick Up in August in the New Jersey Law Journal. According to the article there are some areas of law in demand. Intellectual property lawyers who handle patent prosecution are attractive right now. This is especially true for those with experience in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. Firms are also seeking commercial litigators. The article specifically mentions class action defense, white collar defense and insurance coverage as areas of specialty. Obviously, bankruptcy and restructuring attorneys are in demand as clients face the pandemic and its financial consequences. Lastly, the article mentions that firms are seeking transactional and employment laterals. Many lateral partner moves are happening in these practice areas.
What I get from this article, combined with my own experiences, is that there are opportunities for established partners looking to make a move. Firms are looking to add revenue, fill a strategic need, improve existing practice areas, and grow geographically.
As lateral partner moves continue to increase, maybe it is the time for you to consider your options. Gillman Strategic Group can help. We specialize in helping partners with established business find the perfect fit at law firms. Please feel free to set up a call to discuss whether it’s possible to find a better fit for you and your clients.
I recently came across an article that discusses the reopening of law offices during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article confirms some themes that I have been hearing from my connections in the legal world. One, law firms would be wise not to reopen too soon. Two, some firms are really good at providing the right support to work efficiently and effectively from home. Some are not as good. Three, some law firms really care about the health and well being of their people. These firms support work from home and limit the number of people physically in the office. Some firms will rush to reopen causing anxiety and distress for staff.
The author of the article points out that New Jersey and New York law firms that forced employees to come to work during Superstorm Sandy, or other inclement weather, will probably push their people to come back too soon during this pandemic. While I do not necessarily agree with his premise, I do know that returning to work is a concern for many.
The most common stress that I hear about is commuting. Many who rely on public transportation are concerned about being herded onto trains and buses with little protection. Likewise, many lawyers work at firms where elevators are necessary to get to the office. The closed space of the elevator is a concern when everyone heads back to work.
Another issue? People have become accustomed to working from home. In addition to no long commutes, lawyers have learned to be productive. They have also come to appreciate spending time with their families. Law firms should be aware of this when formulating their return to work policies.
The reopening of law offices is a complicated issue. Some law firms value the safety and well-being of their staff. These firms will listen to the concerns of their people. Further, they will make accommodations to alleviate stress while allowing for productivity. On the other hand, other firms will not make similar accommodations. It does not matter if you are a clerk or a successful partner, you will have to return to the office as dictated by management. If this is your situation, there are options.
To see how we can support you, set up a meeting with Jennifer here for a 15-minute exploratory chat.
Do you think that you’re fairly compensated? Or wondered if you could make more money somewhere else? There are actually a number of ways partners can make more money by moving their practice to a different law firm.
Do any of these apply to you? Partners can make more money by moving to another law firm:
1. GET MARKET RATE COMPENSATION
Sometimes, you’re being paid below market at your current law firm. Moving to a firm that compensates you appropriately can mean a big raise. Does it feel like you’re generating a lot of business and working long hours, that’s not reflected in your compensation? Do you work at a firm where the senior partners take a disproportionate amount of the profits in comparison to their contributions? Are you getting tired of your firm’s opaque compensation calculations that never seem to reward your efforts?
2. FIND NECESSARY PRACTICE AREAS AND CROSS-SELLING OPPORTUNITIES
Does your current firm have all of the practice areas necessary to meet the legal needs of your clients? If not, moving to a firm that does can often increase your compensation with very little effort on your part. Of course, this only works if the new firm encourages and rewards cross-selling. For example, you’re a patent attorney and your clients have real estate matters they can bring to the firm. The firm has to be one which encourages the real estate partner to help pitch the client with you. Although this can be accomplished through creating a culture of cross-selling, it’s easier to guarantee when there is some form of compensation tied to the assistance, and the firm gives you origination credit for matters you bring in to other departments.
3. HAVE RATES THAT MAKE MORE SENSE FOR YOUR CLIENTS AND PRACTICE
Although this one seems counter intuitive, going to a firm with lower rates may increase your compensation. You may have to collect on more hours. This is because instead of getting one “bet the company” deal or litigation once a year because your client thinks you’re very good but very expensive, you might become the client’s “go-to” firm for all of its legal needs if your billing rate becomes more reasonable. Partner can make more money with lower rates.
4. HAVE THE RIGHT TEAM
If you don’t have the correct support at your current firm, sometimes just moving to a firm that has the right team can be enough to increase your compensation. If you had appropriate staffing, you would never have to turn work away because. You will have the capacity to handle more.
With the right team of lawyers at the correct levels, you can also leverage your time better. This can lead you to be responsible for generating more hours, and even allowing you to spend more time away from the office while someone else is doing the work. It’s easy to recognize this problem if you’ve asked management at your firm to hire additional associates or other support. And they refused your request. A subtler version of this issue is when your current firm is unable to attract talented associates. The causes could include the firm’s negative reputation, low pay scale, or lack of brand in your practice area.
5. THEY NEED YOU
Sometimes a firm needs you for a particular reason and they will pay to get you. For example, a rainmaker partner is getting close to retirement with no one to take over his large client base. The firm naturally wants to keep those clients after the other partner leaves and that’s where you come in. Ideally you will have time to get to work side-by-side with the other partner having him introduce you to the clients as the lawyer who will now be handling their matters. In this situation, how much the firm pays you may be dependent on how hard it is to find someone with your skill set. Also, the timing of the retirement is a factor.
Even more motivating for a firm is the situation where a partner leaves suddenly. They don’t have anyone at the firm who can handle the work. There is a lot of time pressure to find someone to handle the clients before they find other firms. This translates into the firm just wanting to get the deal done and someone in place, at whatever the cost.
Another situation when a firm might need you is when it’s getting increasing internal referrals for a practice area it doesn’t have. Firms hate to refer work out, because there’s always a danger that the client will either stay with the second firm for other needs or find a third firm to handle all of their needs. How much this situation affects your compensation will be dependent on how frequent the referrals are, how difficult the firm thinks it will be to add the practice area, and whether you have clients of your own to keep you busy between internal referrals.
Do any of these issues apply to you? Although it’s not all about the money, most partners want to make sure they maximize their compensation appropriately. In fact most partners can make more money. Set up a call to see if we can help you make more money without working harder?
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Many solo practitioners and attorneys at small firms mistakenly believe that joining a larger firm will mean less money. They think this because of the high overhead and less freedom due to red tape. Many times, that’s simply not the case. In reality, there are several reasons that a larger firm with a more full-service platform can result in more money. And leaving behind all of the administrative responsibility can give you more freedom to focus on client service and development. So how do you know if it makes sense for you to join a larger law firm?
Here are 5 Reasons Why It Makes Sense to Join a Larger Law Firm:
1. YOU ARE REFERRING WORK OUT BECAUSE YOUR FIRM LACKS PRACTICE AREAS
This is a big one for a lot of solo practitioners. Since no single lawyer can be an expert in every area of the law. Solos (and small firms and boutiques) are often asked to do work where their firms don’t have the expertise. Therefore, they must refer this work out.
Unfortunately, every time an attorney refers work out there is a risk the client won’t come back again. This is because the client stays with the second firm. Or, just as bad, they go to a third firm that is able to handle all of its legal needs.
2. YOU DON’T HAVE A BENCH TO PULL FROM WHEN MATTERS HEAT UP
If you’re a solo practitioner (or part of small firm) there aren’t extra people around to help. There is no support to shoulder the burden when you get busy. There are a couple of consequences. This may put you at a disadvantage to the firm on the other side. The adversary is able to pull staff from other departments. They have help with caseloads and can consult on different areas of the legal matters.
It may also mean that when a big case is going to trial or a major transaction is getting ready to close, you have to turn down new matters. Then when the case finally settles or gets tried, or the big deal closes, you are left scrambling for work.
3. YOU WOULD BENEFIT FROM CROSS-SELLING AND CROSS-MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES
Joining a large firm with a collegial atmosphere is often a way to market your skill set to clients who are already using the firm for their other legal needs. A client that already has a positive association with the firm may be happy to meet a partner that can handle more of its legal needs. This allows the client to keep all of its work at one firm. And at a firm with the right culture, you’ll have ready and willing partners to introduce you to their clients. This can certainly give you a head start when it comes to marketing.
4. FOCUS ON CLIENT SERVICE AND BUSINESS GENERATION, INSTEAD OF ADMINISTRATIVE WORK
Solo practitioners (and managing partners at small firms) inevitably spend much of their time on administrative tasks. This limits the opportunity to focus their attention on client work and business generation.
If you join a larger law firm, you get the benefit of a billing department, professional marketing staff, and many times even a non-lawyer CEO or COO. Depending on the size of the firm, you may have many other non-legal professional staff. All of whom are tasked with making sure you can perform your work as efficiently as possible.
5. YOUR CURRENT AND POTENTIAL CLIENTS MAY FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE GIVING THEIR WORK TO A LARGER FIRM
Solo practitioners (and managing partners at small firms) may have a harder time landing the larger clientele they need to boost revenue. The reason for this is that these clients often have many different areas they need legal advice in and so they are more comfortable giving their work to a larger firm that can handle all of the areas. It makes it easier for the client to have one law firm handling everything rather than multiple law firms handing all the different aspects for them. It makes it easier when they have one place of contact and don’t have to think about who is the right firm to help with that particular issue.
I invite you to sign up for a 15 minute, no obligation call with me to discuss if moving to a larger law firm would be a better fit for you. You can choose a time that works for you here.
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As we begin Week 5 of working from home, it may be time to reconsider how you feel about Zoom job interviews. With coronavirus still ravaging the country, it seems like we will be practicing social distancing for quite a while. We predict that Zoom job interviews will become more commonplace and have already had candidates who interviewed using this technology. If you had previously been planning to leave your law firm, or the last month has given you some new perspective about how it’s no longer the right fit for you, it’s time to embrace Zoom for the recruiting process.
Our overall advice is to keep in mind that Zoom job interviews are real interviews. There are real consequences to your job search and make sure to treat it accordingly. Here are some tips that may help:
1. DRESS LIKE YOU WOULD FOR AN IN-PERSON INTERVIEW
For our law firm partner clients, dress as you would for court or to meet with your most important client. Generally, this means a suit and a tie for men and a dress, suit, or the equivalent for women. (If you’re reading this and you’re in a different industry, just make sure to dress in the attire that’s expected for an in-person interview in your industry.)
And please be sure to wear the whole outfit! Not only is it better for your mindset to be dressed in your business clothes for a business interview, but if you’re not wearing pants you can’t jump up and adjust the computer/lighting/microphone or get a wandering child or pet to leave the room.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR TECH IS SUFFICIENT
Be sure that you have the strongest internet connection possible in the room you’ve chosen for the interview. Depending on where you live and how good your service is, you may want to consider getting a router booster.
Make sure that you have Zoom loaded onto your device. Make sure that you know how to join the meeting and work the controls. If your office is currently using a different platform or not doing much videoconferencing, it’s worth investing some time to set up a Zoom meeting with your friends or family so that you can practice.
3. CHOOSE YOUR BACKGROUND
Everyone understands that we’re all working from home. That said, you should still try to find a background without toys, dirty dishes, empty bottles of alcohol or unmade beds that make it look unprofessional.
If you have a home office, that’s probably the ideal location. If not, don’t worry, just try to find a plain wall or bookshelf to sit in front of.
There are also virtual backgrounds you can use. However, they can either look fake or are not opaque enough. Therefore, we recommend trying to use a real background in your home if it’s possible.
4. DECIDE ON YOUR OUTFIT AND CHECK IT ON THE ZOOM SCREEN AHEAD OF TIME
You may have a favorite outfit that you wear for important hearings or closings that has always worked for you in person, but you have to remember that it may not be the same on Zoom. The person you’re speaking to is only going to see your face and part of your upper body, so what looks very professional full length may not look the same sitting down.
It is highly recommended that you actually get dressed in the outfit you plan to wear and sit down in front of the Zoom setup you’re going to use to test it out. Simply go to Zoom.us and choose “Host a Meeting” and choose “With Video On” from the drop-down menu. You will then get a chance to see exactly how your background and outfit will look on camera.
5. PAY ATTENTION TO GROOMING
Everyone understands that you can’t get to the barber or salon during this time. People will be much more forgiving than usual. Regardless, you should still give some thought to grooming.
If you’re shaving, make sure your shave is fresh. If you’ve grown a “quarantine beard” just try to make sure it looks neat. For anyone who is overdue for a haircut, some extra product in your hair may help keep it under control for the interview, or if it’s long enough, consider tying it back.
The camera tends to wash you out a little, so women who ordinarily wear makeup may need a bit more on video and women who don’t may want to consider some powder and blush.
6. DECIDE IF YOU WILL ADD LIGHTING OR ENHANCE THE SOUND
You should make sure to do a Zoom test of your sound and lighting. Is there a lot of feedback when you use your computer speakers? You may want to use Air Pods or other wireless headphones. Make sure to test them with Zoom ahead of time so that you can get comfortable with the sound. If that’s still not sufficient for you, there are many add-on microphones you can invest in, whether something you put on your desk or a lavalier style you wear.
How is your lighting? The easiest way to get good lighting is to have your computer face a source of natural light. Be sure not to have the sun behind you or it can cause shadows that change throughout the interview and may even block your face. Also make sure not to have any lighting in the frame that causes a glare. If the background you wish to use for the interview doesn’t have a good source of natural light nearby, there are lights you can buy for your desktop, a tripod next to your desk, or even to clip onto your computer screen.
Amazon is a good source of these items with a fairly quick turnaround and there are certainly some inexpensive options.
7. CHECK YOUR SET-UP WELL BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
For the best look on Zoom, you should position your device so that the camera is above you. Then angle it down. This way, you will be more likely to look straight at the interviewer instead of looking down. This is easiest to do with a laptop, but can also be accomplished with an iPad or other tablet. You will probably need to position your device on some books or a box so that the camera can be raised a bit.
Again, test this out ahead of time by hosting a meeting with video so you can see the camera height and angle. Once you’re satisfied with your setup, try to leave it the same way until the interview or at least remember how you had it so you can recreate.
8. TRY TO MAKE SURE YOU WON’T HAVE ANY DISTRACTIONS OR DISRUPTIONS
Everyone understands that you’re working from home and a certain amount of background noise or interruptions will be understood, but you should let everyone in your home know you’ll be on a very important video and can’t be interrupted. You should also avoid running the dishwasher or washer/dryer during this time, or having the television on in the background.
You also need to make sure that you won’t be distracted. Put your mobile phone away and disable notifications on the device you plan to use for the interview.
9. MAKE SURE YOU’RE ON TIME (OR BETTER YET, A FEW MINUTES EARLY)
Just like for an in-person interview you check the address and make sure you know how to get there, you need to do that here. Make sure you have the Zoom link that your interviewer sent and make you know how to sign onto Zoom.
Just like you leave a few extra minutes to account for possible transit delays or traffic when you head to an in-person interview, you should do so now. Sometimes there’s a delay signing onto Zoom. You certainly don’t want your interviewer to think that you’re late or you forgot. It’s better to plan to be 5 minutes early than to have to explain why you’re late.
10. MAKE SURE TO LOOK AND SEEM EXTRA-ATTENTIVE
Try to remember that to make Zoom job interviews as close to in-person as possible, you have to be extra engaged. This may mean leaning into the camera to make a point or slightly exaggerating your facial expressions so that your interviewer knows you’re interested in the conversation. We recommend using Speaker View instead of Gallery so that your interviewer takes up more of the screen and it’s easier to seem like you are looking him or her in the eye instead of looking down.
Whatever you do, don’t check your phone or other devices, send an email, or read a text during the interview. This is the time to be completely focused on the conversation you’re having.
We hope that these tips will help get you started. Treat Zoom job interviews just like in-person interviews. We’ll also be posting some videos to demonstrate. Please feel free to reach out to Gillman Strategic Group with any questions.
You may have been thinking lately that your current firm is not a good fit for you but you can’t really pinpoint why. Here are some ideas that may click for you. Do any make your ask yourself if you are at the wrong law firm?
1. YOU DREAD MONDAYS
Do you start dreading going back to work every Sunday night? Is it because you just don’t like the people you work with and the general feel of the place? Or is it because you can’t believe it’s already Monday when you’ve just worked another weekend? Either way, this may signal a bad firm culture fit.
2. YOU FEEL LIKE NO ONE AT YOUR FIRM RESPECTS YOUR IDEAS
Do you feel like no one listens to your suggestions at partner meetings? Do you ever feel like you get the eye roll or get cut off when you’re speaking? Has it gotten so bad that you’ve stopped speaking up in meetings and you’re hesitant to offer your ideas? Maybe you just need a new crowd.
3. YOU HAVE TO DO A LOT OF APOLOGIZING TO CLIENTS FOR THINGS THAT AREN’T YOUR FAULT
Is your firm missing important practice areas that your clients need? Or charging rates that seem astronomical to them? Or are you always apologizing because you don’t have adequate resources to get their work done as quickly as you would like? Any one of these issues can mean that you spend a lot of your time taking the blame with your clients. Maybe it’s time to address these issues.
4. YOU FEEL LIKE NO ONE RESPECTS YOUR PRACTICE AREA OR CLIENTS
Do you feel like your partners are patronizing about your practice area? Are your clients too small to impress them? Or are they in an industry some of your partners think is beneath the firm or not worth going after? Maybe you just need new partners.
5. YOU EITHER DON’T KNOW WHAT YOUR FIRM’S SUCCESSION PLAN IS OR YOU DON’T AGREE WITH IT
Does your firm not have a succession plan and instead rely too heavily on aging rainmakers who keep a tight grip on their clients because they believe they’re going to live forever? Or maybe your firm has worked out a succession plan, but you think they made a poor choice? Is the next managing partner someone you can’t stand, or someone you think can’t handle the job? Maybe it’s time to consider a firm with management you can see eye to eye with.
6. YOU’RE NOT ENTIRELY SURE IF YOUR FIRM PLANS TO KEEP YOUR PRACTICE AREA
Have you noticed that the firm is putting fewer resources into your group and more and more into other departments? No one has actually told you that the firm is planning to cut your practice area, but management is a little cagey when you ask questions. Is it time to see the writing on the wall?
7. YOU’RE HAVING A LOT OF TROUBLE HIRING TALENT AND IT’S NOT A TIGHT MARKET
Have you asked the recruiting director post about that associate opening or start trying to find a lateral partner candidate for your group months ago, but you still haven’t received any qualified resumes? You hear about waves of hiring from your partner friends at other firms. They don’t seem to be having any trouble finding good candidates. Maybe you’re at a firm that can’t attract the team you need?
8. YOU DON’T FEEL THAT YOUR PAY IS FAIR
Does it feel like you’re generating a lot of business and working long hours, but it’s not reflected in your compensation? Are you getting tired of your firm’s opaque compensation calculations that never seem to reward your efforts? It’s not all about the money, but it is a little bit about the money. Maybe you are at the wrong law firm and it’s time to look for a firm with a different compensation system?
If any of these 8 Simple Reasons sound like the experience you’re having at your firm, you may at the wrong law firm. Gillman Strategic Group specializes in helping partners with established business find the perfect fit at law firms in New Jersey. We would be happy to set up a call to discuss whether there is a better fit for you at another firm.
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Now that we’re into Week 7 of social distancing, if you haven’t already given virtual networking a chance, it’s time to start. With so many virtual networking events happening on any given day, there truly is a choice for every personality type.
THE SOCIAL BUTTERFLY
In B.C. (before coronavirus) times, you were frequently seen flitting around from networking event to networking event. You were wholly in your element, meeting new people every day. A true extrovert, you’re used to getting all of your biggest clients one person at a time, through face-to-face interactions. Although you’re dying for some new people to talk to and starting to worry that you’ll never get a new client if this pandemic doesn’t end soon, you’re skeptical that speaking to a face on a computer screen is anything like meeting in person. You thrive off the energy in the room. Since you’re sure a virtual meeting won’t be the same, you’ve put off even trying one. You’re secretly hoping social distancing will end sooner than expected so you can get back to ballrooms full of new people to meet.
Change your mindset
It’s time to change your mindset and look on the bright side. Virtual networking really is a lot like meeting in person if you give it a chance. Try to make it as close to a live meeting as possible for yourself. Put on business clothes (wear the whole outfit, it’s good for mindset and you want to be wearing something on the bottom if you have to jump up suddenly). Check your set-up, lighting, and sound to make sure you can be seen and heard as well as you would be in person. Set aside all distractions and really focus. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it begins to seem like a “real” meeting if you give it a chance. And now that you don’t have travel time, you can fit even more networking events into your day. A real boon for all of you social butterflies!
If you love the idea of speaking with as many people as possible, look for a group that’s billed as “open networking” perhaps run on Remo.co, where you actually have a chance to move from table to table on a ballroom map. You can also look for large groups that allow everyone a chance to make an elevator speech, or large groups that have several breakout sessions during the meeting. You know that you miss the excitement of meeting new people. It’s time to get out there and use this technology to your advantage!
As an introvert, you’ve always hated networking events and were secretly glad when social distancing guidelines were implemented. You use social distancing as an excuse to avoid networking completely now and hope that it’s a very long time before you have to feel bad about skipping another big in-person networking event in the future.
There’s a bright side for all of you introverts too. Virtual networking is much easier and less awkward than having to walk into a big room full of strangers and try to start up a conversation. Most of the time, there is a plan to follow. The person running the event will introduce you to people and tell you when it’s your turn to speak. If you don’t like the idea of speaking in front of a large group of people, you can either participate in small networking groups or look for a larger group that is set up to introduce yourself only in the typed chat notes and then be broken into smaller groups for guided conversation. Try to avoid “open networking” events because they are much like the kind you didn’t enjoy in person.
If you’re still nervous, take a deep breath and practice. Have a Zoom session with friends or family to start off. Once you’re comfortable with that, you may want to start with an interest group like a virtual meeting of your Rotary Club or religious institution. You can gradually work up to small group networking sessions with people you haven’t met yet. Just take it slow and you may be surprised at how comfortable it can become.
THE TECH PHOBIC
You hear a lot about virtual networking, but the whole thing makes you nervous. It’s not that you have anything against networking, but you can barely sign into your firm’s Webex or Zoom meetings. Why would you volunteer for additional torture?
There’s hope for you too. Since you’ve figured out how to sign into your firm’s meetings (however reluctantly) you’ll be able to sign into a virtual networking meeting too. And the good news is that once you’re signed in, the organizer does all the rest. He or she will tell you when it’s your turn to speak and when to put notes in the chat. All of those fancy-looking breakout groups are actually pretty simple. The best part is that they’re all done entirely by the organizer.
Just like for the others, the best advice is to practice ahead of time. Schedule a Zoom meeting with friends or family so that you can test your set-up. Make sure you know how to mute and unmute yourself, type notes into the chat, and press the button to allow yourself to be added to a breakout room. Once you try it a couple of times, it will be easy. Then try joining a virtual networking meeting for the first time with some people you feel comfortable with or where you know the organizer, just in case you have any trouble with the tech. Soon you’ll be virtual networking with the best of them!
Give it a Try
Whichever personality type above describes you, it’s important to get comfortable with virtual networking. Even when social distancing orders are relaxed, it may be a very long time before people feel comfortable meeting in large groups again. And many people have been enjoying how the lack of travel time makes virtual events more efficient. Therefore, all indications are that some form of virtual networking is here to stay.
You can’t put off business development and networking for much longer or your “new normal” will be an empty pipeline. It’s time to take a chance and try a virtual networking event. If you would like to join ours, we host two Zoom events and one Remo event every week. Just click here to sign up for the schedule and reminders. Whatever you end up doing, just make sure you do something.
The reality of working from home. For a lot of people this used to be the dream, now it’s the reality for just about everybody. We’re all trying to figure out ways to make this new situation productive and having to figure it out on the fly. Creating a designated workspace within our home, setting our hours, staying sane while a million other things are going on around us, it’s all a lot to juggle!
A recent article offered some helpful tips to help navigate our new work from home offices. Like with any new job, it takes time to settle in, get comfortable, and create routines to help make the work day more productive.
Tips like get dressed for work every day might seem a little silly. I’m at home, why should I have to get dressed for work? But it’s one way to differentiate the time of getting ready for work from just another morning at home. I’ve personally been wearing business clothes every day if for nothing else than to keep my dry cleaner in business. I recently did a Zoom call with a group I regularly meet with for in-person networking. Everyone was initially surprised of the requirement to dress up for the meeting as if it was an in-person meeting. But it makes sense, it’s a way to hold ourselves accountable to the same kinds of standards we’re used to. Plus we all have our work clothes in our closets, so they may as well get some use especially on days when we know we’ll have videoconferencing.
A career coach quoted in an article I just read says “Don’t underestimate the power of putting on clothes suitable for public viewing. It makes you feel human [and] confident ….” By now a lot of us have mastered the hair and makeup touchup, plus wardrobe refresh needed to be presentable for a video call. And not many of us thought we would suddenly have to consider good lighting or camerawork!
“One of the big challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping your work and home lives separate. ‘For some people it becomes very blurry,” says Muse career coach Lynn Berger, who specializes in helping people navigate career transitions. If you never fully disconnect from work, your work productivity will suffer and your home life can take a hit as well’.”
Another thing to consider is your work environment, which used to be setting up our desk at the office. An issue now is space, obviously, both physical and head space to do what we need to do. Carving that out, in our heads and in our homes, is crucial. The article pointed out some of the challenges depending on your living situation. People generally fall into 1 of 2 groups, either they’re now isolated because they live alone and face that challenge. Or they’re in a different situation, maybe in a house full of other people doing their own work or schoolwork.
“If you live with other people, this separation is even more critical. Communicate with the people you live with to establish boundaries so you can cut down on distractions during the workday—and then disconnect and give the people you care about your full attention. Having a separate time and space to work will allow you to be more present in your home life.”
Coming up with plans to create some structure for your new daily life can really help. Establishing routines, setting aside designated times to take a coffee break, have lunch, or get some exercise can really help the days feel more normal. A lot of people are coming up with a daily timetable and really try to stick with it. For example, 8:00 breakfast, 8:30 check emails, 9:00 return phone calls, 10:00 work on projects, 12:30 lunch…. You get the idea.
Things may not go smoothly, and real life is likely to present challenges to the best laid plans for working from home. It’s important to not just recognize the problems, but to share ideas on dealing with them.
The article suggests that “the key to steering through these bumps is communication—especially with your manager and direct reports. Either before you make the switch or as soon as you know it’s happening, come up with a plan that lays out expectations for how often you should check in and how you’ll convey any changes or new assignments to one another. Do the same with anyone you usually work collaboratively with throughout the day. This plan is likely to change as you go. And that’s OK.”
Flexibility and patience are going to help all of us manage things better, whether dealing with co-workers or family. It’s important to go easy on ourselves and also be kind to each other. (A helpful skill when someone at home starts making a racket during your work call!) We all just have to hang in there. The reality of working from home is here.
To chat about how Gillman Strategic Group could support you, schedule a call with Jenniferhere.
While we are all working from home, it’s a good time to take measures for self-care. Likewise, carving out a space to soothe anxiety and protect our mental health as much as possible.
Working in cramped quarters with family members nearby and pets underfoot, amid a national health crisis, creates some unique challenges. I read a recent article about how to stay calmer while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and current political climate. The article talks about how we all can protect our mental health.
One of the first suggestions to maintain a mental equilibrium is to refrain from obsessively following the coronavirus updates. The article states “Protect yourself from the mental fallout. Those include limiting your exposure to emotionally disruptive cues. . . Unless you’re an epidemiologist or public health official, chances are you don’t need a real-time play-by-play. As with most anxiety-inducing subjects, the big-picture awareness will probably suffice. As such, limiting social media and disabling worry-inducing notifications is a good idea. According to the CDC’s guidance for managing anxiety and stress during the coronavirus pandemic, you should “take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.”
Aside from trying to keep anxiety in check, it’s a good idea to turn off the frequent news notifications on our phones while we’re trying to get in a productive workday from home. The usual rhythms of how we work, go through our emails, and interact with clients have been upended. It’s important to cut out extraneous distractions wherever possible. Of course, sometimes news is really pressing or a family member really needs attention. That said, creating a general framework for business hours is helpful.
During this challenging time, those working from home (and staying in all the time) are also facing an “increasing sense of isolation and loneliness. As events and get-togethers are canceled, trips are postponed and remote working and ‘social distancing’ increase, we’ll be getting less of something human beings are hard-wired to need—a sense of connection.”
It’s kind of a double whammy for the legal profession. That sense of connection is something that many lawyers have already found lacking in their daily lives during normal times. Statistics show that “lawyers already experience high levels of isolation and loneliness, both of which undermine physical and mental health and increase the risk of substance misuse and addiction.”
Therefore, lawyers working from home during social distancing should keep in mind purposeful ways to combat feelings of isolation. These feelings can no doubt exacerbate anxiety. The article had some suggestions for staying connected, including “schedul[ing] time to check in (by phone or video) with family and friends” because “in a time of increased stress, a sense of connection can be transformative and, for some, lifesaving.”
Maybe it’s a good time to check on colleagues you haven’t heard from in a few days. Just to make sure they are OK.
Another thing to keep an eye on for yourself and your friends and colleagues is the risk of overusing substances. Lawyers already have a heightened risk in this area. Health guidelines suggest that “excessive alcohol use disrupts and impairs the immune system” — something none of us need right now.
This year’s election also promises to be a potential stressor and the article points out that “it’s an environment that you’ll be required to take proactive steps to mitigate if you want to emerge unscathed.” Just as with the coronavirus coverage, the author recommends limiting exposure to negative social media and other news about the contentious election. It also recommended “prioritizing and nurturing a sense of connection with others” through activities like “joining social groups or clubs, engaging with your community, volunteering, and taking part in religious, spiritual or cultural activities.”
It may seem a bit ironic that when busy lawyers are forced to work from home and may finally have time for activities that can enhance their social connections, social distancing and shelter in place orders have made them seem impossible. However, some of these activities may be still be taking place virtually and that’s a great place to start.
Try to engage with your house of worship or watch services online, spread the word on charities that need help, attend a virtual club meeting, or stay involved in other virtual activities within your community. Then when things return to normal, you will hopefully have developed a different routine that includes more time for the things that matter to you and foster a sense of connection, such as family, faith, community, or service and you can do them in person, which the author points out is much better than through social media.
Law firms can also do their part. It will help the whole organization if as the article suggests they “promote activities to support health and well-being in the coming months…. it really is something that organizations of just about any size and budget can accommodate.” One thing to check out coming up in a while is Lawyer Well-Being Week in early May.
Anything individuals and employers can do to help manage stress and protect mental health will certainly benefit all of us. Focusing on taking positive steps which are in our control can help when things seem so out of control.
I also would like to invite you to join us weekly for networking. There is no charge. It’s our way of getting a number of interesting people together and connecting in this time of social distancing. You can learn more here.