No, I am not living with my mother. My mother is living with me. There’s a big difference; the fact that I am paying the mortgage, being the most critical one. Mom is staying with me for a few weeks post surgery and although we have both been previously suspect of this arrangement in concept, the reality has been pretty cool. My mother continues to mentor style, grace and humanity for me, and her life lessons have only changed in design, not in substance or indeed (candidly) force.
But that is a good thing—we all need that person who will unapologetically pull us aside and tell us what we don’t necessarily want to hear. Need to hear, yes; want to hear, no. Nothing can replace the sound, albeit brutal, advice of a parent, a friend, a colleague or a loved one.
Speaking of which, I had the same experience last week when I was working far out of my professional expertise on a different type of litigation. I was out of my comfort zone and needing some wise counsel and handholding. Quoting another force to be reckoned with parallel to my mother, I “screwed my courage to the sticking point1” and asked an IndyBar colleague for advice, help and salvation. What I heard was not what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear, and that “reach out” probably kept me from making a professional mistake. Shout out for humility and knowing when to ask. I don’t care who you are or how long you have practiced law—respect is garnered if you ask for help when needed. I know that when colleagues call me to ask about my expertise instead of going it alone and praying for the best, they rise a notch or two in my book.
You are probably receiving your IndyBar membership renewal forms right about now. Take a moment to review the new format to realize that the legal world is indeed your oyster. When I re-upped this year I changed it up and expanded my Plus CLE options so I can choose the sections I am interested in now and book the CLE later when my schedule allows. It is paid for upfront so I have all year to see what works for me. I love that I can experiment depending on my interest. Maybe it is time for me to take a CLE on the new health care requirements and how this could affect those of my mother’s generation—who better to learn it from than an IndyBar member with that expertise? I will be a better daughter and a better lawyer for it.
The most valuable benefit of IndyBar membership is the built-in supportive community whether you are taking CLE, consulting with a colleague or learning from other leaders. Last month was the IndyBar Past President’s Dinner, which is one of my favorite events of the year because past, current and future leadership literally fellowship and share stories and a meal. It is irreplaceable, because as much as we can get into our own heads about our “issues,” chances are someone in that room has had a similar challenge, and we can learn from how they handled it. We all stand on the broad shoulders of those who have come before us, and I only hope I can offer what wisdom I have gained this year to future bar leaders. I hope they ask.
I am also enormously grateful for a Board of Directors and an Executive Committee that in 2013 has helped me sift through the day-to-day challenges of bar leadership. We as practitioners, leaders, sons, daughters, parents and partners can learn so much if we just ask. Don’t wing it and hope for the best if you don’t have to. Choose humility and don’t presume you know all of the answers.
Because one day, just when you think you have it all figured out and you have one foot out of the door on your way to work, you will hear your mother say “You’re wearing that?”•
1 Lady Macbeth.