Bar News - March 22, 2017
Board Perspective: Make Time for Some Real Facetime
By: Cathy Shanelaris
Let’s face it. In the world of smartphones, social media, the crush of workloads, family obligations and an utter lack of sleep, no attorney feels he or she has time to go to in-person networking events or legal education classes. In-person events are time-consuming to travel to and attend. They are sometimes awkward when you do not know who will be there or with whom you will end up talking. It’s old-school, but I continue to believe in the value of attending events in person.
Attitudes about attending live events have shifted. Attorneys want to feel that they are “getting something” by going to an event – CLE credits, free lunch, a binder full of materials or some other tangible benefit. It is difficult to spend the time to have a cup of coffee before a CLE or spend all day there when we could just hop online to get our knowledge in 15-minute increments.
But we often ignore the intangible benefits of making a new contact, shaking someone’s hand, introducing yourself, handing over a business card, meeting someone in another area of practice who can help one of your clients or answer a question for you when you need it, getting a referral, commiserating with other attorneys, and frankly meeting new attorneys who may ultimately become your friends. Knowing and meeting other attorneys can make the practice of law richer and less adversarial. So many attorneys I have met at various events have been opposing counsel in my cases. While we work hard to represent our clients and their interests, the other attorney and I have a respect for each other that makes our legal process so much easier. I can pick up the phone and have an honest and frank dialogue with opposing counsel, rather than firing off a motion for contempt when something goes wrong. Ultimately that saves my client time and legal fees while getting the job done. I can recall last year, while at the NH Bar Association’s Developments in the Law CLE, I ran into an attorney I had not seen in a while. The following week, she referred a client to me. Spending some time talking at the CLE had prompted her to think of me for the referral.
I know there is a severe lack of time in our lives, but attending an in-person event does not have to be a burden. Budget the time you can spend at the event. If you can be there for only an hour, stay an hour and stick to your schedule. Get out and meet someone new.
It’s hard to step out of our comfort zones when we are busy. Tell yourself you will attend one event per month or quarterly. If you do not want to attend an event alone, bring a friend along and challenge each other to meet new people while you are there. Limit the events to those that have value and interest for you. Be present at the event; do not worry about the hundreds of other things you have to do while you are there. Practicing law is hard and demanding, but meeting new attorneys can help round out the edges in our lives.
Now get out there and have real “face time.” Sign up for an event, challenge yourself to go and you will be rewarded more than you might expect. To find upcoming events and other ways you can get involved, go to www.nhbar.org.
Editor’s Note: President-elect Scott Harris has invited other members of the NHBA Board of Governors to participate in the Perspectives column this year.