Counsel to Counsel is a periodic podcast produced by Stephen Seckler of Seckler Attorney Coaching (www.counseltocounsel.com). It addresses important career, marketing, and leadership issues facing attorneys. The target audience is associates, counsel and partners at law firms of all sizes; but the podcast also addresses issues that are relevant to in-house counsel, law students or any lawyer who is looking for career insights inside or outside of the law.
Counsel to Counsel is aimed at individual lawyers who are looking to increase their own career satisfaction and build their marketing and leadership skills. The podcast features interviews with leading consultants, career professionals and marketing experts who advise attorneys on careers, marketing, law firm management and related issues. The guests are also a roster of successful attorneys who have found career satisfaction inside and outside the law.
Counsel to Counsel is a direct outgrowth of the blog Counsel to Counsel which Stephen Seckler has been publishing since 2005.
Since graduating from law school in the late 1980s, Stephen Seckler has been advising lawyers on career and marketing issues and working with a broad mix of law firms and corporate law departments. He began blogging when legal blogging was in its infancy and his blog Counsel to Counsel was named to the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 in 2007 and 2008 (the first two years that list was in existence).
Steve has written extensively on career and marketing issues and he has spoken at many law school, law firm and bar association events. He served on the Boston Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Work Life Balance and was Vice Chair of the Law Practice Management Section of the Massachusetts Bar Association. He is active in the Senior Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, the ProVisors business network, and has been quoted frequently in the legal and business press.
Saying Thank You and Overcoming Intertia in 2023
IMHO, the two most important words in the English language are "Thank You".
As lawyers, we can be stingy in offering thanks to our colleagues and the people who support our work. In addition, as we enter the holiday season and are thinking about showing more gratitude, now is a great time to start thinking about the changes we'd like to make in the coming year.
In this special addition of Counsel to Counsel, I share my thoughts for Thanksgiving in the run up to 2023.
What Law Firms Can Learn From Corporate America About Well-Being
The subject of attorney well-being is a topic of conversation at most major law firms today. Several years ago, the Report of the Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being was issued by the American Bar Association, Conference of Chief Judges, and other legal organizations. It called well-being an essential element of a lawyer’s duty of competence.
More recently, Law.com and ALM Intelligence conducted a survey of lawyers and staff members, mostly from large firms, has found that anxiety, depression, and isolation remain at concerning levels. And about 74% of the respondents thought that their work environment contributed to their mental health issues.
When asked about the factors that had a negative impact on mental health, top concerns were always being on call, billable hour pressure, client demands, lack of sleep, and lean staffing.
In January of 2020, The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts created a Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being. And there are similar initiatives in jurisdictions all over the United States.
But what are the core issues that these committees are addressing? Why are businesses paying attention to the subject? How are these issues playing out in a corporate environment and what can the legal community learn from corporate America.
Mari Ryan has thought a lot about well-being in the workplace and while her focus is not the legal community per se, she has worked with companies in many industries to address these issues.
Mari Ryan is a workplace well-being strategist, speaker, and award-winning author. Mari works with organizations to create workplaces where both the people and the business thrive. Mari is the author of award-winning book The Thriving Hive: How People-Centric Workplaces Ignite Engagement and Fuel Results.
Episode 70-Shailini George on Doing Well and Being Well in the Law Episode 64-Building Your Practice and Your Management Skills with Mindful Communication Episode 33-Mindfulness, Biofeedback and the Practice of Law Massachusetts SJC Standing Committee on Lawyer Well Being (there are a lot of other resources on this site)
David Abromowitz-Practicing Law in the Public Interest at an AmLaw200 Firm
Is it possible to practice in the public interest at a major law firm? How can you build a legal career working on complex commercial real estate deals while serving a higher purpose?
David Abromowitz has been doing that for almost 40 years.
David Abromowitz is a real estate attorney who is nationally known for his work on complex development and finance deals. A major focus of his practice has been on affordable housing and economic development. He also has significant experience in workforce development issues supporting youth opportunities.
David is a longtime partner in the law firm Goulston & Storrs, where he headed up the firm's real estate group and its pro bono committee. For the past dozen years he has been moving more into the non-profit and political realm.
Most recently, David launched the New Power Project, a national effort supporting people who’ve grown up in underserved communities run for local and district elective office. Before that he served six years as Chief Public Policy Officer at YouthBuild USA.
He is a past chair and founding member of both the Lawyers’ Clearinghouse on Affordable Housing and Homelessness and of the American Bar Association’s Forum Committee on Affordable Housing and Community Development. He also served six years on the board of Mass Development, the Commonwealth’s economic development agency.
And he recently wrote his first novel!
Episode 21-Creating a Mission Driven Law Practice Episode 41-Using Pro Bono to Build Your Skills and Enhance Your Career Satisfaction in a Time of Crisis
Misty Leon on Going In-house With a Speciality
In the 25 years that I’ve been coaching attorneys, one of the common themes I hear is the desire to go in-house. We have spoken a number of times on this podcast about that.
Conventional wisdom says that going in-house means becoming more of a generalist and many of the in-house counsel I have interviewed have found that their work broadened a lot once they left private practice.
My guest in this episode, Misty Leon, took a different path. She has parlayed a niche practice into a great in-house role. In this interview, we talk about her path into a corporate law department, what it is like to be in a compliance role in a rapidly changing legal environment, and how her life has changed since leaving private practice.
What I love about having the chance to talk to Misty is that we have only met virtually. But since the pandemic, our paths have crossed many times on LinkedIn, on webinars, and in ways that would never have happened since Zoom took over the world.
Misty Leon is legal counsel to Texas Instruments in Dallas. She is a benefits attorney with 20 years of experience working with employer-sponsored retirement plans, health plans, and executive compensation plans. In 2021, she transitioned from being a partner at an employee benefits boutique firm to an in-house role. She also worked for several large law firms early in my career, and has represented both public and private employers, including governmental entities.
Episode 91-Transitioning Your Legal Career to In-house and Beyond With Amy Katz Episode 78-Transitioning to General Counsel-Career Lessons from a Litigator Episode 66-Going In-house with David Sclar What I've Learned as In-House Counsel Frequently Asked Questions About Going In-House Episode 49-Adapting to Change, Pivoting to In-house and DEI in the Legal Profession Episode 39-An In-house Career in the Life Sciences
Susan Ibitz-The Human Behavior Hacker
One of the things I love most about doing this podcast is that I get to meet really interesting people and interview them. My guest in this episode takes the meaning of “interesting” to a whole new level.
Susan Ibitz is a face reading profiler who describes herself as a Human Behavior Hacker. Through her company, Human Behavior Lab, Susan has trained, consulted, and worked with lawyers, politicians, law enforcement, managers, sales teams, and literally anyone who wants to be more effective in reading body language.
She was trained in profiling by the CIA, FBI, U.S Military, and international militaries. She is certified as a Level III Hostage Negotiator and has many other certifications to her name.
Susan’s mission is to reach, teach, and train others to unlock the science behind human behavior. She has worked with police departments, trial lawyers, sales teams, governments, and corporations as well as many other institutions. She helps her clients utilize profiling skills to increase sales, team productivity, employee engagement, team building, strategy, effective communication, marketing, and growth.
She is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, English, and most importantly, body language, micro-expressions, linguistic forensic analysis, and face reading with a mask or without. She has worked in the U.S., South America, Mexico, Europe, and the Caribbean.
In this episode, Susan talks about her work and offers us some practical tips that we can use to be more effective in and out of the courtroom as well as in leadership roles and in marketing our legal services.
Planning for Retirement with Julie Jason, The Discerning Investment Advisor
Retirement today is very different than it was 50 years ago. People are living longer, and lawyers, like many other knowledge workers, have the ability to work well into their 60s, 70s and beyond. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was productive well into her late 80s.
But for many lawyers, continuing to work is a default option rather than something that has been carefully planned out. Part of the reason is that lawyers have very strong professional identities. Part of the reason is finances.
As high-income earners, many lawyers fear that they won’t have enough money to last them throughout retirement. That fear needs to be addressed before decisions can be made.
From my perspective as a career coach, I see lawyers creating meaningful and productive “third chapters” of their lives. A crucial part of this is to look at finances.
Given how long many Americans are now living, taking the time to prepare to finance your possibly lengthy retirement is essential in making a successful career transition. Finances should really be the first step in any transition planning. If you are healthy, it can be an exciting time of life. Figuring out how you will make it all work financially is an important first step.
My guest, has written a new book on that very subject. In this episode, we discuss her book and the financial considerations for lawyers who are planning for their next stage of life.
Julie Jason is the author of The Discerning Investor: Personal Portfolio Management In Retirement For Lawyers (and Their Clients).
Julie is an investment manager who started out on Wall Street as a lawyer. Thirty years ago, she founded her own Investment Counsel firm—Jackson, Grant, Investment Advisers, Inc. of Stamford, CT, a fiduciary boutique—where her team manages personal portfolios for high-net-worth families. She writes and speaks frequently on financial literacy and related topics . I met Julie while serving on a panel put together by the Senior Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association.
Succession Planning for Your Career: What Comes Next? Episode 67-Retirement By Design (for Lawyers)