At a fork in the road?

In this economy, many lawyers are facing an unanticipated fork in the road.  Layoffs leave some lawyers contemplating an exit from the profession, others considering whether to launch a solo practice, and others still looking to shift practice areas in hopes of finding a new position.

I recently watched a video of a presentation for the Georgia Bar Association by my friend and colleague Monica Parker of, in which she offers a 3-step process for leaving practice.  It seems to me that the process is equally applicable (with some modification) to other professional changes.  The video is about an hour long… Pour a cup of coffee, grab a pen and paper, and prepare to think through your next steps.  View the video here.

Do you know the RULER for law firm economics?

Law as business vs. law as profession is a conversation that has largely lost its meaning and relevance, especially in today’s economy.  Lawyers must understand some of the basic law firm economics from day 1, if not before.  I happened across an article that presents these basics along with a handy acronym, RULER:

Rates: lawyers’ hourly (or alternative) fees
Utilization: the number of billable hours a lawyer works as compared with the cost of maintaining the lawyer
Leverage: the associate:partner ratio
Expenses: what a firm must pay to do business
Realization: the amount of fees collected vs. billed


6 options for anger management

Lawyers who are or aspire to be leaders must learn to self-manage.  Especially when stressed or under pressure (and who isn’t, at least part of the time?) it’s easy to let self-management slide in the face of provocation.  Some attorneys I know offer a blanket apology to staff and colleagues — something like, “I’m feeling stressed, so please excuse me if I blow up or yell at you or throw things, ok?”  I don’t recommend that approach; it’s been than nothing, I suppose, but it’s actually announcing that bad behavior is coming, apparently largely unchecked.

Let’s be real: attorneys are often faced with statements, actions, arguments, behavior, etc. that is galling in the extreme. It’s a common practice in litigation among some to make an effort to find their opponents’ hot buttons; push the button and out pops an ugly, crazy person – not someone a jury would respect or believe. (Same goes for witnesses, too.)  So how can you handle it when faced with provocation that would make the Buddha quiver with rage?

1. Keep your attention on the motivation behind the provocation. Is the person who’s enraging you doing it intentionally, or is it a by-product of words or behavior that he likely thinks perfectly appropriate? If it’s the former, don’t give him the satisfaction of knowing he succeeded. If it’s the latter, consider whether displaying annoyance would stop the behavior or simply let your opponent know that he’s found a soft spot.

2. Breathe. This is great advice for just about any situation, but it’s especially good for dealing with anger. You can react, which implies knee-jerk emotional feedback made without any reflection, or you can respond, which implies feedback that follows a pause and analysis/reflection to determine the best way to address the provocation. It’s far better to respond than to react. There’s no reason why you can’t fall silent for a few seconds (which may feel interminable to you and your opponent) while you work through your options.

3. Speak softly. Most of us tend to raise our voices when we speak in anger. Therefore, it’s disarming to do the opposite and to speak more quietly. The effect is to appear reasonable and controlled (especially helpful if your opponent is ranting and raving and appearing to be out of control) and to force your opponent to listen carefully to hear what you have to say. I am informed that in Japanese culture, when two parties are arguing, the one who raises her voice first loses. It’s a difficult tactic for many of us to master, but if you can speak softly in the face of provocation, you will stand a much better chance of controlling your anger.

4. Vent. Express your anger in some forum that poses no risk of exposing it. Writing can be helpful, but especially if you write an angry response to an email, be sure that you don’t accidentally send it!

5. Exercise. That’s physical venting. When feasible, it’s a great idea to get up and take a walk instead of marinating in a situation that makes you angry.

6. Selective release of anger. Sometimes, it’s absolutely appropriate to express your anger at the person whose behavior has caused it. But consider the consequences of such an expression. Will you disrupt a relationship? Do you stand to lose ground? Will your expressed anger cause the person to react in a way that will cause you even more trouble? And when you do choose to display anger, consider doing so through your words only but continuing to speak in a low, even tone of voice. That will reinforce the gravity of your words.

And, despite our best efforts at these tactics, all of us lose our tempers sometimes. Especially in time of frustration and stress, it’s easy to let it slip, despite best efforts. When that happens, don’t be afraid to apologize and admit to being human.

Determining decision-making authority

In my experience, newer associates often have challenges in determining what they do and don’t have the authority to do.  Some may take on too little authority, undermining their usefulness to more senior lawyers who need not be consulted about every decision, and others may too on too much, possibly compromising strategic decisions that should be the senior lawyer’s call.

Senior lawyers bear much responsibility for these missteps, because they should have the foresight and ability to define what authority the lawyers they supervise may exercise.  However, all too often, everyone assumes that everyone is in agreement on what’s appropriate — right until the assumption comes crashing down in a rant of frustration at being disturbed yet again “for nothing” or a ballistic explosion at finding out that an incurable decision has been made without a full appreciation for its impact.

I’ve been reading a marvelous book recently: Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time, by Susan Scott.  In addition to setting forth a valuable approach to conversations that facilitate exploration of the truth and collaborative problem-solving, Scott sets out a Decision Tree that supervising lawyers can use to explain a junior lawyer’s scope of authority — quickly, simply, and in a framework that permits easy shorthand reference in the future.

Scott’s Decision Tree comprises 4 categories of decisions (quoted from page 119, Fierce Conversations):

Leaf Decisions: Make the decision.  Act on it.  Do not report the action you took.

Branch Decisions: Make the decision.  Act on it.  Report the action you took daily, weekly, or monthly.

Trunk Decisions: Make the decision.  Report your decision before you take action.

Root Decisions: Make the decision jointly, with input from many people.  These are the decisions that, if poorly made and implemented, could cause major harm to the organization.

It’s quickly apparent how these categories can be used in the practice setting.  In the context of litigation, for instance, a partner might identify deciding whether documents are relevant and thus to be produced as leaf decisions, deciding what witnesses to interview as branch decisions, preparing discovery requests as trunk decisions, and deciding whether to move for a temporary injunction as a root decision.  As the associate advances, more and more decisions will become leaf and branch decisions, which is a strong indication that the associate is becoming more skilled and thus merits more authority.

This same principle is useful in a wide variety of other settings.  Suppose, for example, that you had decided to embark on a marketing program, and you decided to mail firm literature to some unidentified people and to invite others to lunch, to accept some requests to speak at CLE meetings or to write articles, and to use your box seats at a sporting event to thank or to woo particular clients.  The Decision Tree formula would permit you to delegate this process to a large extent to your assistant by explaining which steps you want her to undertake on her own without reporting back (sending out the marketing materials to new contacts), which you want her to do and to let you know about (setting up lunches with those in a designated group), which you want her to filter and then check with you about (”I don’t think you’ll want to speak at these conferences, but client XYZ always attends this one, so you may want to consider that”), and which decisions require input from you and perhaps others (which clients and colleagues should be invited to the playoffs).

Think today about how you can use Scott’s Decision Tree to clarify your own scope of authority and that of others with whom you work.

What happens to work/life issues in a recession?

The economic forecasts seem to agree: we’re in a recession.  Unlike past slowdowns, this recession seems poised to affect law firms as much as other businesses — not a pleasant thought for lawyers accustomed to growth and more growth.  If you’re among those concerned (and if you aren’t, you probably should be), be sure to visit Gerry Riskin’s Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices.  He sounded the economic warning bell early, and he’s providing consistently useful ideas on how to survive the tight times and be prepared to accelerate when the economy improves.

What about lawyers’ efforts to integrate work and life?  Does that go by the wayside in the event of recession?  Should it?

I’ve talked recently with more than a handful of lawyers who are feeling the pinch, and with associates who are sensing or even being told flat-out that they should count themselves lucky just to have jobs, to put their heads down (subtext: quit complaining) and get to work.  Especially in the firms that have just raised associate salaries to levels previously unknown, it isn’t surprising that they might get such feedback.

And yet, the shut-up-and-work mentality flies in the face of efforts to help lawyers shore up declining professional satisfaction.  Work/life balance or integration continues to be an important issue for many lawyers, but how to manage those concerns when times get tight?

Cali Williams Yost, creator of the apt “work+life fit” concept, has posted some thoughts about why smart leaders will continue to integrate flexibility.  The short version, according to Cali:

*  Even in a recession, talent will still be a scarce commodity.
*  You can’t effectively service global clients and manage global teams without flexibility that considers impact on work+life fit.
*  In a recession, more needs to be done with fewer resources.
*  Finally, companies that need to cut back will use flex to creatively downsize.

I think she has some excellent points.  My concern is that between the anger that some law firm leaders feel concerning the escalated associate salaries and the remaining somewhat rigid view that law firms sometimes have on flex time and work/life balance (to use the phrase that firms tend to use), firms may be less willing to use flexibility as a management tool.

The word is already out about some firms firing associates for “poor performance” without any warning signs.  Other firms are openly laying off associates and poor-performing non-equity partners and/or de-equitizing partners.  As much as I’d like to believe that firms will adopt flexibility in greater numbers despite the tight economy, I find it hard to believe.

What do you think?

The client perspective

A couple of years ago, I was a party to some litigation, and I had the mind-shifting opportunity to be a client.  I learned a tremendous amount about what it means to be a client.  Because these lessons would have served me very well when I was in practice, I share them with you today.

1.     Communication is key.  Clients want and need to be kept informed of what’s going on.  If I were to go back into practice, I would make it a habit to dictate a short note describing any case developments to each client on at least a biweekly basis, more frequently if the case is quite active.  And I would be certain to return calls within 4 hours, if only to let the caller know that their message had been received and that I would get back to them with a substantive response on a later date.

Example:  I called a lawyer (we’ll call her Ashley) to whom I was referred by another lawyer I know personally and respect deeply.  Because she was on another line, I left her a voicemail, briefly outlining what was going on — including conflict information — and advising A that I would like to meet with her on a particular date to provide more information and discuss what alternatives I might have.  More than 4 days later, no one from A’s office had returned my call.  Can you imagine what the rate of communication would probably have been if I’d hired A?  I can.  And I called someone else.

2.     It’s a subset of communication, but clients want to know when there’s a problem.  Whether it’s something directly relevant to the case or whether it’s a potential problem you’ve identified while working on the matter, let your client know about it as soon as possible, especially if you can propose a solution.

3.     Be honest.  Although many lawyers pride themselves on saying that they can do anything a client wants — to paraphrase one firm’s slogan, “We don’t tell you whether something can be done, we tell you how.”  That’s all well and good, but clients want and need honest advice.  The fact that something can be done doesn’t necessarily mean it should be done, and that’s something clients must know.

4.     Lawyers know that procrastination sometimes pays off in litigation; if there’s a likelihood that a deadline will be extended for a brief, we sometimes prefer to wait to start writing until we know the date is firm.  This gives clients ulcers if they find out about it.  And, on those occasions when we guess wrong and the date isn’t extended, it reduces the amount of time a client can spend reviewing the filing.  This makes for angry clients with ulcers.  Communicate!  And allow adequate time for client review.

5.     Underpromise and overdeliver.  I’ve blogged on this topic elsewhere in another context, but it’s important.  If you promise a client you’ll deliver a memo, set a reasonable deadline for yourself and send it before that deadline expires.  Even if you’ve already given an oral report on the content of the memo, the client will be waiting for the promised document.  Don’t disappoint him.

6.     Be aware of the context in which you’re providing advice.  If you’re advising a company, know about its business and its officers.  If you’re advising a person, consider her overall situation.  No matter exists in a vacuum, and clients appreciate lawyers who not only recognize that, but who also acknowledge it.

7.     Don’t make excuses.  If there’s a problem, if you’ve failed to communicate as often or as clearly as the client expects, apologize.  Frankly, the excuse doesn’t matter.  Make it right.

I learned many more lessons as a client, but these are the bedrock principles.  How well are you serving your clients, from their perspective?

Is practicing law fun?

I’ve been having some interesting conversations lately with lawyers who demand a career that’s intellectually demanding, satisfying, financially successful, and fun.  Fun?  Can something as serious as practicing law be fun?  These lawyers won’t settle for less.  I’ve discovered 5 common attitudes and habits among these lawyers — how many do you share?

The lawyers I’ve met who insist on having fun (and who are, incidentally, deeply satisfied with their career and practice choices) are a divergent lot.  Some practice in large firms, some are solos, and some practice in a midsized firm, in-house, or in a government agency.  Their practices range the gamut from corporate to criminal to litigation, and their backgrounds are just as variable.  But I’ve noticed 5 key similarities.  Lawyers who have fun:

1.  Are invested in their practices.  Whether it’s a deep commitment to a particular kind of client (those who’ve suffered a brain injury, for instance) or to some agenda he or she advances through practice (representing domestic violence victims or lobbying for stronger legal protection for animals), Lawyers who have fun in practice have something at stake in their work.  There’s an underlying purpose and value to practice for them, and they’re energized by it.

2.  Are able to laugh at the absurdities of practice.  Every lawyer knows how utterly ridiculous practice can be at times.  Experts take completely unsupportable positions and refuse to budge despite the evidence.  Clients insist on the unattainable in ways big and small.  And things just happen.  So much of practice is deadly serious, but the lawyers who have fun know when and how to laugh, and they enjoy the humor.

3.  Find ways to integrate hectic practice and hectic personal life.  Lawyers who have fun in practice know that all work, all the time is a recipe for burnout, so they strive to maintain boundaries around their personal time.  By intentionally taking time away from practice (whether it’s on a weekly basis or whether it comes in the form of 2-week vacations when they’re absolutely unreachable), these lawyers preserve their energy with time away so they can be fully engaged when they’re practicing.

4.  Enjoy colleagues and clients.  Lawyers who have fun like and trust the people with whom and for whom they work.  Camaraderie lightens the mood (I remember and have heard all sorts of stories about working all night and staying energized by the other lawyers working then too) and offers opportunities to bat around ideas, strategy, and arguments, all of which can lead to great legal results and also great fun.

5.  Relish the bold and unconventional.  Lawyers who have fun in practice enjoy taking a step out of the expected.  Maybe it’s pulling words from The Devil’s Dictionary or making notes on an upcoming argument with a purple glitter gel pen or using dictaphones to record Dueling Banjos on a slow Friday.  Or, as the picture above suggests, maybe it’s getting a little work done in the park on a nice spring day.  The specifics don’t matter, but these lawyers have a healthy sense of play, individuality, and perhaps even rebellion.


Letter to a young lawyer

Some months ago, Stephanie West Allen requested that fellow bloggers write a “letter to a young lawyer.”  Susan Carter Liebel has recently renewed the request  and I am delighted to join in, at last.

To the new attorney:

Welcome to the practice!  You’ve learned much over the last three years of law school, and you may be somewhat dismayed to discover that your learning is just beginning.  It’s a cliche to say that law school merely teaches you to think like a lawyer, but you’re about to find that there’s quite a bit of truth there.

I’d like to offer you a roadmap of sorts… A short list of foundations that underlie a successful practice.  Think of these as guideposts.

1.  Each time a client entrusts you with a matter, you’ve been granted a sacred trust.  You will have hundreds of clients — perhaps thousands — over the course of your career.  Some may be sophisticated legal consumers, but others will bring to you the only legal matter they’ve ever had.  Whichever camp your client falls into, it is your responsibility to treat the matter as if it’s the most important matter this client will ever have.  That isn’t to say that each client should in effect run your practice (you’d never get anything done), but when a client trusts you enough to request your representation, be aware and respectful of the trust… And earn it.

2.  Remember that the other lawyers in your firm who ask you to do work are your clients.  Act accordingly.

3.  It’s called legal “practice” for a reason.  You’re bright and accomplished, and you’re accustomed to knowing it all.  You’re about to enter a phase in your life in which you’re likely to feel that you know very little.  It’s your opportunity to practice the skills you learned in school, to read the law and to think deeply about it.  You’re going to make mistakes, no doubt.  It’s your duty to learn from each mistake and to make each one only once.  Ask intelligent questions and study the lawyers you admire.  A mentor is invaluable, and here’s a secret: your mentor will learn as much from you as you learn from your mentor.

4.  Begin your business development activities now.  Especially when you’re just beginning to practice, when you know so little about how the law really functions, it’s hard to imagine that you’re going to be responsible for bringing clients in.  Whether that need arises immediately (as of course it will if you’re a sole practitioner) or in a matters of years, you need to lay the groundwork today.  Keep up with your classmates from college and law school.  They may be at the bottom of a corporate rung today, but they (like you) will advance, and the confidence they develop in you over time will position you well to turn a social relationship into a business relationship.  The best marketing flows from superior legal skills plus masterful interpersonal relationships.  Remember that you need to develop both.

5.  Set goals for your career and adjust as appropriate.  Two errors plague lawyers: advancing in practice without having a plan and sticking to a plan even after it’s quit being the right plan.  Spend time determining what you want your life to look like both professionally and personally.  That knowledge will guide your steps as you decide where to practice, whether to stay there or leave, whether to pursue or accept a partnership offer, and much more.  However, be sure that the plan you’re following really fits you.  There’s little worse than climbing to the top of the ladder only to discover that you’ve scaled the wrong wall.

6.  Develop your leadership skills — you’re going to need them.  You may not view yourself as a leader right now, but you’re going to find yourself in a leadership role sooner than you recognize.  Learn how to discipline yourself, how to communicate what’s right, how to stick to your vision and to motivate others to join in the effort, how to convey your presence as a leader.  You’re going to find yourself on a board, in a courtroom, leading a team of lawyers, or bringing your legal skill to a matter of importance in your community.  Learn how a leader behaves and seek opportunities to practice.

7.  Integrate your personal and professional aspects.  You will be most effective in the office when you’re rested and the demands of your personal life are sufficiently met.  It’s unrealistic to imagine that you will always be able to meet those standards, but you must strive to do so.  “Work/life balance” doesn’t mean dividing your time or energy 50/50: it means knowing how to devote your time and attention where you need to, when you need to, according to your values.  Sometimes you’ll have to disappoint friends or family, and sometimes you’ll have to disappoint colleagues or clients.  Learn how to balance competing demands to wring the most out of every moment you have, without wringing yourself out.

8.  Give back.  You may feel overwhelmed when you think of the debt you’ve accumulated while pursuing your degrees.  Never forget that you’re among the most privileged people in the world, whether you’re at the highest paid law firm or the lowest paid public service agency.  Find ways to contribute to your profession and to society.  You will be richer for all you give.

There’s much more to say and learn… And you’re in for the ride of your life.  Welcome to practice!  Go as far and as fast as you can, in service to your clients, your community, your profession, and yourself and your family.

New issue of The Complete Lawyer: Dealing with the jerk at work


“There have always been, and inevitably will be, a certain number of bullies, braggarts, brutes and bigots who manage to insinuate themselves into any assemblage of humans, the legal profession not excluded. In the past, these misfits have been dealt with by peer pressure and sanctions; however, as the rude, degrading behaviors creep ever closer to becoming a norm, there is cause to ring the warning bell.”

Bruce Campbell, Counsel Columbus, Ohio, Bar Association

The latest issue of The Complete Lawyer has been released, with a focus on “No Jerks Allowed!”  The quote above (lifted from this issue) illuminates the theme: too many law firms and legal departments include at least one jerk, and we (as individuals and as a profession) must find a way to deal with those jerks.  I’m delighted to have an article included in this issue (more about it below), and I find myself in august company.

Here are some of the featured articles:

Robert Sutton
, author of The No Asshole Rule (recognized as one of the best business books of 2007 and a must-read for lawyers) and the terrific Work Matters blog, writes on Power Breeds Nastiness.  Remember the observation, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely,” made by Lord Acton in the late 1800s?  There’s merit to it, and Bob’s article (edited and updated from his book) explains more.

Victoria Pynchon, author of the fabulous Settle It Now Negotiation Blog, provides a breathtakingly transparent article titled Why Lawyers Are Unhappy… And Make Others Unhappy, Too.  It’s about why and how nice people (especially litigators) can become jerks, and how to identify a path out of the unhappiness that underlies nasty behavior.  This is a personal article, and I so respect the honesty in it as well as the insight that points to the way out.

Gary Namie, co-author of The Bully At Work explains how to Create a Blueprint for a “Bullying-Free” Workplace.  This article draws the distinction between jerks who perpetuate incivility and bullies who “maliciously destroy people and organizations” and lays out a 4-step plan to correct and prevent bullying at work.

“Recovering defense attorney” Allison West promises, Yes, There Are Ways To Reform Workplace Jerks through sensitivity training that’s designed to “give jerks direct feedback about their conduct, highlight the impact of their behavior on the workplace and provide tools to fix the problematic attitude and behavior. After that, it is all up to the jerk.”

Garry Mathiason and Olga Savage of Littler Mendelson help to establish some bright lines about behavior in Defining And Legislating Bullying.  The article begins with a vignette of a rainmaker who defended the harsh comments made to two associates: “I sometimes raise my voice,” the rainmaker says. “If the associates can’t handle that, how will they ever hope to hold their own in litigation?” Mathiason and Savage’s articles helps to clarify the continuum between acceptable behavior, abrasive behavior, and bullying and to propose some solutions when the behavior falls on the wrong end of that spectrum.

My article is titled How To Spot And Deal With Jerks: Learn when and how to confront, disengage, and manage the jerks in your life.  One aspect of coaching for lawyers involves workplace communications, including deadling with the jerks in practice.  Many of my clients have encountered these jerks (as have I), and I’ve recounted a few of the more flagrant stories — all true, though edited to protect confidentiality.

The crux of the article is this:

Know What Kind Of Jerk You’re Dealing With And Choose The Best Strategy In Response

The first step is to notice when someone’s behavior leaves you feeling bad and then to identify the kind of jerk you’re facing.

The practice of law is often stressful, and even perfectly nice people may, on occasion, be rude under stress. Generally, though, nice people are aware of their bad behavior and apologize at least indirectly. These people may be situational jerks whose behavior unintentionally causes discomfort and pain. Dealing with such thoughtlessness is often relatively simple because situational jerks typically don’t mean to be jerks and may not realize the harmful effects of their actions.

Habitual jerks are more damaging. These people commonly yell, use sarcasm or mean-spirited teasing, engage in personal insults, or otherwise act in a demeaning or disparaging manner. Habitual jerks may strike out at any time. They don’t apologize, and they don’t notice or acknowledge the pain they inflict because they simply don’t care. Dealing with habitual jerks is difficult. Because of the habitual jerk’s disregard for others, the victim has fewer resources to call on to try to end the damaging behavior.

One of the following two options usually works best when dealing with a jerk:  confrontation or disengagement. Regardless of the response you select, you must manage the stress that results from the jerk’s nastiness.

This issue of The Complete Lawyer also includes articles on business development and marketing, career management and planning, and work/life integration.  It’s great reading.

You do it for your clients… Do you do it for yourself?

During my first conversation with a new client, we were talking about the goals she’d like to set.  She said she’d like to make partner at her firm, and I asked what she needed to do to reach that goal.  She answered that good work and maybe bringing in a few clients would get her there.  We drilled a bit further down on that question, and then I asked how she planned to bring in the “few clients” she thought she’d need.

“Well…” she cleared her throat.  “I thought I’d do some networking, you know, and maybe speak at a CLE, and I’ve thought about writing some articles.”  I asked a few more questions and discovered that she had a vague plan, but only a vague plan, of what steps she’d need to take to build the practice and presence she’d need to be considered as a viable candidate for partner.  “I won’t even be considered for 4 years,” she concluded.  “It’ll get clearer as I go.”

Every single lawyer I know begins a representation by clarifying what the client wants.  If it’s a litigation matter, sometimes it’s to win at all costs, sometimes it’s to preserve a business relationship, sometimes it’s to protect one asset or position even at the expense of another.  The client’s ultimate goal drives the strategy for the case.

And yet, I see so many lawyers who don’t pause to develop a career strategy.  The need to work hard and master the skills of practice is obvious, but knowing what skills should be acquired and how to go about acquiring them requires more study and strategy.  Without an end in mind and a somewhat carefully planned approach to that end, it’s easy to get off track.  Just like it’s possible to blow a client’s legal budget winning a point that the client didn’t really want or need to win, it’s possible to spend a great deal of time and energy reaching a goal that doesn’t lead to the ultimate goal.

We’re 2 days into a new year.  What steps do you need to take this year so that you’re advancing toward your ultimate goal?  And please note: despite the time of year, I’m not talking about making resolutions.  I’m talking about setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based) goals along with a strategy for reaching them.

What are your SMART goals?  What’s your 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year game plan?  You wouldn’t represent a client without a clear definition of the win and a roadmap to get there, so why do anything less for yourself?

And the client who wanted to make partner?  It’s now a year from our initial conversation.  Last year, she created a strategic plan to get her practice known (by publishing an article and speaking at a CLE program) and a plan to begin client development activities, including identifying and becoming involved in an industry group related to her practice.  Her theme for this year is building her internal profile, and she’s just been named to a significant firmwide committee.  She’s now in year 2 of her 4-year “path to partnership” plan.  Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but whether she makes partner or chooses to move to another firm, her strategic planning will serve her well.