I’ve always been what Malcolm Gladwell terms a “Connector.” People often remark that everyone knows me, or that I know everyone. I’m also someone who delights in making people feel welcome and connected. Even in high school, I could be found befriending social outsiders, and doing so gladly. I found them to be some of the most interesting and underappreciated people around (of course, most are huge successes today). And even now, when people I don’t know ask me to go to coffee to pick my brain about something, I always say yes. I truly believe in the power of connection and its ability to change the world for the better. This is a key way I give back. It has also been, unwittingly, a key channel by which my professional life has flourished.
Yet, we live in a world that fosters disconnectivity. While the internet allows people from all over the world to share their ideas with one another, it also creates a certain isolation. People get so obsessed with their devices that they don’t look up. They focus so much on the screen in their face that they forget to appreciate the present moment. Maybe this is why I’ve personally felt so compelled to go on silent meditation retreats several times a year. Unplugged and silent is the truest way I know to get re-engaged with the moment. Then I remember how incredible life is, every single moment, even when nothing special is happening. This is similar to what I feel when I see an old friend, meet someone new with whom I feel a tremendous bond, or introduce two great people to one another.
In these moments of connection, I’m reminded of what social scientists tell us: synergy with ourselves and others leads to great things -- health happiness, and longer life. Lawyers in particular are desperately in need of these, given our high depression and substance abuse rates, not to mention the prevalence among attorneys of job dissatisfaction. This was the reason a key group of Marin women lawyers and I launched the Joy in the Law Conference last fall. Lawyers seem to be so routinely down in the dumps about their work lives. Yet the kinds of comments I received at the end of that conference were unforgettable. “Life-changing” was a phrase many used. People I met just for that one day sent me gifts, called, and promised to fly out from anywhere to be at the next conference. That feedback, in and of itself, led me to start planning the conference again for Fall 2018 (September 28th in Marin County) and to think about how to further connect lawyers.
While I plan for the conference next fall, I've decided I want more of that same connection and synergy now. I want to bring people together in smaller, more informal settings, and more often. That's why I recently started connecting attorneys over lunch or dinner with other lawyers I think they should know. Attorneys who share a distinct point of commonality can be particularly helpful to one another. In small groups they can speak informally about what matters most in their careers and personal lives and support each other. I suspect this kind of professional matchmaking will result in more lawyers finding career satisfaction, confidence in their decisions, and having more fun at work. I’ll report back in another post on how it’s going. In the meantime, if you’d love to be a part of one of these small group gatherings and find more genuine connection with your legal community, feel free to reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-515-1707.