When we think about what we want to accomplish in the coming year, we generally focus on how we want to change ourselves, what we didn't like about our behavior last year and maybe even what we did wrong. While I am always in favor of a conscious effort to improve, I am going to suggest that it is extremely worthwhile to devote some time to identifying what worked really well last year, where you excelled and what you're doing that you would like to see more of.
Recent statistics, as reported by The Legal, indicate there has been no movement in the percentage of women lawyers practicing in this state's 100 largest law firms in the last 10 years. Undoubtedly, a confluence of factors contributes to this sobering fact, which is the subject of another article completely. Many articles in this category often focus on the reason why women leave the profession. I'd like to offer a tiny glimpse of why I chose to stay.
You just got the call that you will be thrown into the ring for the first time to defend a client deposition, and you feel great. They trust you, and this is why you went to law school, right? Or maybe you feel nervous. Really nervous. Maybe you realize that you have no idea what you are doing. In fact, you have no idea how you came to be a lawyer at all, given that you were eating Crunch Berries last night.
At the end of last year, the Commonwealth Court decided the matter of Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Kochanowicz), No. 760 C.D. 2010, which it received on remand from the state Supreme Court after its prior decision in the case was vacated. The court was directed to reconsider the matter in light of the prior Supreme Court decision in Payes v. WCAB (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State Police), 79 A.3d 543 (Pa. 2013), decided just over a year ago. The Supreme Court in Payes had taken the lower appellate tribunals to task for the manner in which they had been dealing with work-related psychological injuries—often substituting their own findings for those of the trial court. The case restored the appropriate power to the fact-finder in "mental-mental" psychiatric work injury claims, or those stemming from nonphysical stimuli.
It is no secret that jurists across the state have made headlines recently for conduct ranging from immoral and impartial to downright illegal. With the most recent events on the bench in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in the Philadelphia Traffic Court system and in Philadelphia Municipal Court, one must wonder how we fix this current state of dishonor. After all, Canon 1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct says, "A judge shall uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety."
While it may take years to learn all the nuances and potential pitfalls involved in drafting a legal document, here are a few tips that may help new attorneys avoid an embarrassing conversation about their drafting:
The holiday season can be hectic for any person, but especially for young lawyers undertaking their year-end push to make their numbers, close deals for eager clients closing their annual books and clear litigation to ensure a fresh start for the following fiscal year. With the constant blare of drummers drumming, the distracting crackling of chestnuts roasting, and the consistent toiling over the next suitable location for a certain elf who often finds himself on shelves, the holiday season can throw serious curveballs into the already difficult work-life balance for young lawyers. November and December of each year often offer the perfect storm of increasing commitments at home with family and friends, and increased activity at the office. Being pulled in so many directions can leave young attorneys exhausted and jaded, and completely oblivious to the potential joys of the holidays.
So you recently graduated from law school and just found out you passed the bar. You must be able to jump right in and practice law, right? What about giving advice to family and friends who are excited they can now get free legal advice from you? Do you know enough to dispense this advice when requested? Take it from Ygritte in the "Game of Thrones" series: You know nothing, (insert your name here).
Every day, young lawyers and law students attend interviews hoping to attain that first big break into the legal profession. They put on their best suits. They double- and triple-check their resumes and writing samples. They meet with each member of the hiring committee and try their best to give the perfect polished answer to every question, hoping to provide the magic responses leading to a job offer. Toward the end of the interview, when asked if they have questions, they will inevitably ask a few preplanned, typical questions about the position, firm culture and advancement within the firm.