New Lawyers Spotlight: Working from Home

Stephanie ChenPIC - THL - Chen
Lockridge Grindal Nauen

What’s the best working-from-home hack you’ve gained this past year?

One of my challenges working from home has been maintaining motivation, which is difficult when things are mundane with staying at home and hardly going to places. I’ve found exercise helpful; it breaks up the day a bit, and gives me renewed energy to continue working. The problem there, funny enough, is maintaining motivation to exercise regularly. I recently discovered a fantastic virtual workout subscription program called “Obé.” It offers high quality on-demand and live classes, with a large variety, from dance cardio to strength training—and the best thing is most of the classes are only 28 minutes long so I can fit them in easily. The instructors are also very upbeat and the classes are set in this color-changing background, so the classes are a fun way to brighten or change up my day. Even if Obé is not your cup of tea, I’ve seen an increase in different virtual fitness apps and subscription options, and highly recommend one for keeping up motivation and well-being.

What’s something new or innovative you did in your job last year?
I started a leadership speaker series hosted by my firm, with the help of a friend and colleague, Arielle Wagner, as well as with the support of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and of Summra Shariff (Twin Cities Diversity in Practice). This series, known as LGN Leadership in the Law Series, explores how diversity and inclusion is experienced—not just in the law, but in the larger context through Minnesota—with conversations about individuals’ personal experiences with inclusion and bias, advice on overcoming challenges and being a successful leader, strategies for allies, etc. We saw a need to bring in different perspectives to keep pushing these important conversations. Our inaugural event this past October featured Hennepin County Chief Judge Toddrick Barnette, who shared some fantastic wisdom about his personal journey and the importance of having honest conversations to cultivate meaningful relationships and maintain employee retention.

Jonathon D. NelsonJonathon Nelson
Gurstel Law Firm

What have been some unexpected, positive consequences that have come from working from home? 

Remote Court appearances becoming the new normal. Prior to the pandemic, it was rare to see certain courts grant requests to appear by remote means (Zoom and/or telephone). During the pandemic, most if not all, courts have transitioned to conducting remote hearings or considering matters based on submission only. Now there are some courts that have indicated they will continue to hold remote hearings even after they have the ability to hold in-person hearings safely. 

What adjustments have you made to your work-life balance as a result of working from home?
I’ve developed a much better work-life balance since starting to work from home in March. Initially the balance was life-heavy because my puppy would decide when I was done working for the day; it eventually returned to a sustainable position after it became normal for her to have me around all day. After returning to the office part-time I’ve been able to maintain that position, keeping her happy and addressing all of my clients’ needs.

Have you picked up any new hobbies or habits working from home?

Yes, hiking and exploring new parks has become a larger part of my life. Once businesses started closing, we created an adventure bucket list and started crossing places off as an excuse to leave the house. 

What’s the most creative way you’ve connected with clients or colleagues while working from home?
Safety has always been of the utmost importance in the world of competitive shooting. As a result, local gun clubs quickly developed and implemented rules to minimize health risks for individuals that wanted to continue enjoying the sport. This allowed me to meet colleagues and clients to safely shoot and connect in-person. 

Stephanie S. Lamphere Lamphere, Stephanie.Headshot.NCBA
Messerli & Kramer

What’s something new or innovative you did in your job last year? 
Hired an “At-Home” Legal Assistant—a Boston Terrier puppy named Gizmo.

What’s the best working-from-home hack you’ve gained this past year? 
A Nespresso machine.

What’s one piece of advice you have for newly sworn-in lawyers? 
The area of practice you end up in may not be what you originally envisioned for yourself in law school. Be open to new practice areas that you may not have previously considered which might turn out to be perfect for your unique skill set.

What’s become your most vital piece of technology in your practice? 

This probably goes without saying as it is 2020—but I would have to say Zoom. As a civil litigator with a number of hearings typically scheduled in a given week, I’ve greatly appreciated the court’s flexibility and the willingness of court administration and staff to coordinate and hear various motions remotely via Zoom (or conference call) during a challenging year. 

What’s the best book you read in 2020? 
The Bible, cover-to-cover in 30 days while recovering from surgery in April. Definitely worth the read! 

Tescia Jackson
PIC - THL - Jackson

UnitedHealth Group — Optum

What’s one piece of advice you have for newly sworn-in lawyers? 
Be a good person. All the advice I’ve ever received from my mentors boils down to that simple phrase.  I define a “good person” as one that is hardworking, ethical, respectful, trustworthy, humble, motivated, reliable, helpful to those with less, and enjoyable to work with. These traits, along with a few others, will set you up for success. The legal community is small and people remember how you made them feel. And a special bonus piece of advice: it is never too early or too late to start networking!
Managing Editor
Elsa Cournoyer

Executive Editor

Joseph Satter