The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

CBA/ABC National

Taking a look at pivotal career moments

August 12 2016 12 August 2016

Leveraging your law degree was the first table to fill up in the PD session Pivotal Career moments at the 2016 CBA Legal Conference in Ottawa.

Changing practice areas was not far behind.

In the end, nearly all of the session’s eight tables were filled with lawyers and coaches looking to discuss topics such as how to juggle competing priorities or reboot a legal career as part of the facilitated workshop.

Here’s a sample of the discussion at a few of the tables:

Managing diversity issues: Facilitator Joanna Kirke noted that there are three things each of us registers subconsciously in less than a second the first time we meet another person: age, gender and race (physical attractiveness, believe it or not, is noticed later). We all have an “in-group” based on our own characteristics, and we all have an unconscious bias toward people in our in-group.

“When we don’t have a lot of exposure to other cultures we have less opportunity to add people to our in-group,” says Kirke. “How do I gain my confidence with the ‘other’ when I am not exposed?”

Leveraging your law degree: Each of the discussion tables was provided with a flip chart to write their ideas down. This group of young lawyers soon filled a page with the characteristics and skills that make a good lawyer: negotiation, analyzing, communications, writing, networking, logical, calm, problem-solving, listening, creative, psychological, time-management, stress, deadline, risk-management, intuition, conflict resolution, judgment, business skills, goal-setting.

These are all a lawyer’s transferable skills, said facilitator Tammy Hoffman. Alternative careers to which these skills can be transferred include: consultant, communications, negotiator, mediator.

Committing to the partnership track: This discussion moved quickly to the subject of happiness – to wit, is success happiness? There was general agreement that most partners aren’t happy.

One participant said it’s important to take advantage of the opportunity, when you’re younger and have a high degree of mobility, to move around. Otherwise, you can get stuck in a partnership culture, which could very well be someone else’s idea of happiness.

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