Madame Chair has asked me to step in for her this month, so welcome to the Letter from the Vice-Chair! Ashley will return next month for her final letter as Chair of the Forum for Emerging Lawyers. From all of us on the Board, thank you, Ashley, for your wonderful work and leadership this year, and we wish you success in the future as you grow your firm!
November has always been a magical time of the year for me (and not just because it is my birthday month). Whether I was in college or law school, it was a time when friends and family all began to come back together. We would all share stories and catch up on our adventures over the past year. Regardless of the locations our lives took us or the different pursuits we chased, we could always come back together and reconnect as if no time, distance, or calling separated us. Home became a concept of people rather than a building. Even now that I live in San Diego, far away from Philadelphia, I have made a second home here, as well, including those I met through participating in the SDCBA.
With that connection to home, though, came a closer reflection of self. Remembering the past allowed me to step aside from the maelstrom of the moment and reflect on whether this is where I want to be, this is what I want to be doing, this is who I want to be. I remember back to the hopes and dreams of that kid graduating high school, or the one graduating college, or the one graduating law school, or the one taking the attorney pledge. What did that person want to accomplish in the world? What goals did he have for his career? What motivated him? What made him happy? Is he happy? All of those questions seem to get lost in the day to day, and when we are alone, it can be harder to ask them. Home, though, helps rekindle the memory of who you were so that you can better understand who you are.
Ever since college, and especially now that I am unable to make it back to Pennsylvania this time of year, I take the last few months of the year to write out an email to all my friends known as the “State of the Ollie” address. I recap everything I did that past year and my thoughts on the current hot topics in the world. I am infamous for how long they are — last year was over 50 pages single spaced — but even if my friends don’t always read everything, the exercise helps me reflect on me. I now have a snapshot of myself each year going all the way back to 2003. If I go back to read them, I can see how my thoughts have changed over the years, along with my career goals. It also helps me look back on the things that made me happy.
I do not suggest everyone this year write a 50 page paper on themselves. Our careers have enough reading and writing as it is. I do suggest, however, using this time to reconnect with yourself. Take a moment to step out of the everyday legal bustle and focus on you for a change. If you live solely to chase goals and benchmarks, you may miss many of the wonderful things around you. If you have the opportunity to go home in the next few months, or at least your second home, take a few minutes (not just moments) to reflect on your life outside of law. We are all lawyers, yes, but all lawyers are human, despite what some jokes out there may have you believe. To be a better lawyer, it helps to be a better you. Do not let the golden opportunity of this time of year slip by without taking advantage of coming home, for no matter how you define home, it will always include you.
Finally, don’t forget to reconnect with all of your friends in our small San Diego legal community by coming to the SDCBA’s annual Stepping Up to the Bar on December 1. This annual event brings everyone in the SDCBA together, allowing the lawyers to reconnect no matter which practice areas and committees our careers have taken us. I look forward to seeing you there. Until then, have a thankful November.
Very Truly Yours,
Michael G. Olinik
Vice-Chair, Forum for Emerging Lawyers