Inside View: Addressing the Gap: A Career-Staged Approach to Member Services

This past October, I had the honor of speaking on a panel during the National Association of Women Lawyers’ Annual Legal Leadership Summit & Meeting the Challenge Conference. The panel, entitled Ages and Stages of a Law Career, allowed attendees to hear from a diverse group of women attorneys who are in the public sector, private practice, or in-house at different stages of their law practice, including post-retirement.

The panel was asked a variety of questions, including: Given that the legal profession is beginning to talk about well-being and mindfulness as priorities, what do we do for self-care? Were there any pivot points in our careers where we went in a direction we had not expected? What does “work-life balance” mean to us, and what do we do to maintain the right ratio in our own lives? If we have had speed bumps in our careers, how did we navigate them? And what role have professional organizations played in our professional career success or satisfaction? The timing of this panel could not have been better because it aligned with one of my initiatives as president of the HCBA, which is for the HCBA to take a more focused, career-staged approach to member programming.

The HCBA regularly provides programming and opportunities for newer attorneys (i.e., attorneys aged 36 or younger, or who have been practicing six years or less). It also gears programming towards those attorneys now acceptably called “vintage” or “seasoned.” But what about those attorneys who fall in the middle? The middle stage of practice is a critical stage for attorneys. That is the stage where attorneys possess the substantive skills and experience that they need in their career, but may also find themselves asking, “What next?”

The HCBA is hard at work trying to address this gap. For example, the HCBA currently offers an assortment of soft skills programming. Soft skills programming refers to programs focused on education related to transferable or professional skills, as opposed to hard skills programming focused on education related to vocation or qualification. The HCBA offers its bi-annual Law Firm Leadership program, tailored for attorneys who have been in practice for 10 or more years and are looking to advance toward broader firm leadership roles. Those who complete the program are then invited to attend alumni roundtable discussion and networking events where they can continue to implement some of the strategies they learned in the program.

The HCBA also has a Mindfulness Meditation Practice Group. While appropriate at all stages of one’s career, this program helps attorneys practice being present in the moment and being aware of their bodily sensations, mental and emotional states, and external stimuli. Benefits of mindfulness include stress reduction, expanded working memory, and increased attention span, among others.

Further, the HCBA is encouraging each section to offer more soft skills programming. Topics could include situational communication (e.g., working with foreign-speaking clients, clients with disabilities, victims of trauma, or how to handle difficult conversations, etc.), presentation skills, emotional intelligence, corner office, and other partnership strategies, civic engagement, and other related topics. Several sections have also already considered what we know about those who have been practicing 7 to 15 years, generally, when scheduling CLEs and other section events. For example, some sections have moved their programs to different parts of the day to accommodate the schedules of attorneys who have childcare obligations or other family commitments.

In sum, while the HCBA has regularly focused on newer attorneys, as well as “vintage” or “seasoned,” attorneys, we see those of you who fall in the middle. We welcome you back into the fold. And we want to offer you the programs and skills that are appropriate for your career at your stage. Let us know how we can help you. If you have an idea for a CLE or program that you would like a section to organize, or even better if you would like to lead one, feel free to contact one of our section leaders by visiting:

Adine S. MomohAdineMomoh
2018-2019 HCBA President

Ms. Momoh is a partner in the Minneapolis office
of Stinson Leonard Street where she represents
clients in matters involving banking litigation,
estates and trusts litigation and creditors’ rights
and bankruptcy before state and federal courts
across the country. As a trusted advisor, she
helps clients navigate the entire lifecycle of a
case, from case development and strategy, to
discovery, to motion practice, to trial, to appeal.
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