Voices of the Bar 3/23/17: Why is federal funding for legal aid important?

This week, we are reaching out to members at legal services organizations and members who subscribe to our Legal Services Section to hear your thoughts on the importance of funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC).

As you have likely seen in the news, President Trump’s budget proposes to eliminate the LSC, and federal funding for legal aid along with it. While the federal budget process is only just getting underway, we have heard concerns from many our partners in the legal community. We wanted to give members the chance to speak out on this issue.

“Why is federal funding for legal aid important?

Jayne Tyrrell – Massachusetts IOLTA Committee
“Legal services programs in every state, including Massachusetts, provide critically needed legal assistance to prevent illegal foreclosures and evictions, domestic violence, financial abuse and other injustices for struggling students, families, veterans and seniors.

In addition to de-funding civil legal aid, the President’s proposed budget would eliminate or deeply cut many other programs that help vulnerable residents, including, heating subsidies, work-study, housing assistance, health care, job training, education, work safety programs and Meals on Wheels as well as grants to banks and credit unions that support financial services in underserved communities. Legal services programs play a valuable role as a safety net for low-income people, advocating on their behalf in court, with administrative agencies and with lawmakers.”

Rebecca Cazabon – Foley Hoag
“The Legal Services Corporation provides essential grants to local legal aid agencies in every state in the United States. LSC-funded legal aid organizations successfully partner with private law firms, such as mine, screening cases for financial eligibility and merit, providing training, and supervising pro bono lawyers, which enables law firms to take cases. Eliminating federal funding for legal aid would have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable low-income individuals and families in Massachusetts and elsewhere, who depend on free legal help.  In addition, cutting federal funding for civil legal aid would make it nearly impossible for law firms to continue to represent domestic violence survivors, veterans seeking benefits, families being unfairly evicted, and others most in need.”

Suzanne Elovecky – Todd & Weld
“Federal Funding for legal aid is vital because it (a) provides access to the legal system for those with limited resources, (b) ensures that our court system is not a privilege only for the elite, and (c) it evidences that we – as a society – advocate for all persons to have access to the systems of our government.  Through legal aid funding, those with limited resources are given more opportunities to pursue their rights in important areas, such as family well-being, health, safety, housing and livelihood.”

If you would like to respond to a future Voices of the Bar, make sure you send a headshot, and contact Lauren DiTullio at [email protected].

Voices of the Bar 3/9/17: Who Has Been an Influential Woman in Your Life?

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, we wanted to give members a chance to tell us about a woman that has inspired them in their career, personal life or otherwise. Here is what they had to say!

“Who has been an influential woman in your life?

Cameron Casey – Ropes & Gray
“As an undergraduate, I served as an intern to Ruth J. Simmons, who had just become the 9th President of Smith College and who later served as the President of Brown University.  President Simmons provided an example of strength, eloquence and grace in the face of challenge.  What influenced me most, though, was President Simmons’s unwavering commitment to civil discourse.  She encouraged us to discuss issues about which we disagreed strongly, and to do so with an open mind and respect for the opposing viewpoint.  She has said, “One’s voice grows stronger in encounters with opposing views.”  It may be the most important thing I learned at Smith; and it’s certainly relevant twenty years later.”

Valerie Moore – Ferriter Scobbo & Rodophele
“My grandmother is an influential woman in my life. From a very early age, she encouraged me to read everything I could get my hands on, to take risks, and to always be curious about the world.”

Megan Gates – Mintz Levin
“My aunt, Betsy (“Bree”) McKenny, has been very influential on my life and in particular my career path. Before she retired, she was a trusts and estates lawyer and was the co-author of a book called Everyday Law Made Simple, which even as a young girl I thought was incredibly cool. From my earliest memories of what it meant to have a career, I wanted to be a lawyer like “Aunt Bree.” I knew from her example that there was nothing standing in my way of pursuing that path.”

If you would like to respond to a future Voices of the Bar, make sure you send a headshot, and contact Lauren DiTullio at [email protected].

Most Interesting Lawyer of the Week: Locke Lord’s Paulette Brown

Women’s History Month Feature Series
Paulette Brown: Making Strides While Making History

“It is important for our youth to see the diversity of our profession and for members to show them what is possible, because it’s difficult to aspire to be something you can’t see.”

That’s what Paulette Brown told the ABA Journal shortly before starting her term as president of the American Bar Association (ABA) in September of 2015.

Brown was the first African American woman to lead the ABA, and she made diversity in the legal profession the focus on her term. Motivated by Bureau of Labor statistics showing the legal profession to be among the least diverse s in the country, Brown convened the Diversity and Inclusion 360 Commission, which gathered thought leaders across the country to focus on a comprehensive plan for diversity. She took that plan – and that focus – to all 50 states as ABA President. During her visit to Massachusetts in March of 2016, Brown moderated a panel at the BBA with other professionals who hold diversity in the legal profession as a high priority.

One result of the Commission’s work was the passage of ABA’s Resolution 113, an initiative designed to increase diversity in the legal profession. The Resolution urges all legal services providers to expand and create opportunities at all levels of responsibility for diverse attorneys, and urges clients to direct a greater percentage of the legal services they purchase to diverse attorneys. A report on the Resolution includes a model survey for providers of legal services to complete, which would allow prospective clients to view current levels of diversity among providers.

Brown’s leadership in driving the profession – both nationally and here in Massachusetts – to renew their focus on taking concrete steps to increase diversity in the legal profession caught the attention of the BBA; she was selected to receive the Beacon Award for Diversity and Inclusion, which will take place on March 30th at 6:00pm at the Taj Hotel in Boston.

In November of last year, the BBA announced its strong support for Resolution 113 and is working with other partners in Boston on the implementation of the model survey.

“We applaud the American Bar Association for advancing Resolution 113,” BBA President Carol Starkey said. “We are grateful to the ABA for their leadership on this important issue, and we look forward to learning of this initiative’s progress in the coming years. We strongly believe that one of the most significant benefits of this initiative is that it will facilitate an ongoing constructive dialogue between law firms and corporations concerning diversity and inclusion within our profession. We view this initiative as one that affirmatively supports change through collaboration, and we are excited to be part of that discussion.”

Before serving as ABA President, Brown was on the Commission on Women in the Profession and was a co-author of “Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms.” She also chaired the ABA Council on Racial and Ethnic Justice (now Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice) and is a past co-chair of the Commission on Civic Education in our Nation’s Schools. Brown has been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of “The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America.”

Voices of the Bar 3/2/17: What are you reading?

The BBA staff is comprised of avid readers, and we love to share that enthusiasm with our members! In honor of National Book Day, we asked some attorneys what they are reading right now, and what they think of the book.

“What are you reading?

Debra Squires-Lee – Sherin & Lodgen
“I am reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, a story about an elegant apartment in Paris peopled with a cantankerous concierge, a wildly intelligent and precocious twelve-year old girl, and a wealthy Japanese tenant.  In the first four chapters, I already underlined and highlighted the following gems, both from the concierge: “As always, I am saved by the inability of living creatures to believe anything that might cause the walls of their little mental assumptions to crumble.” And: “Let us just say that the idea of struggling to make my way in a world of privileged, affluent people exhausted me before I even tried.”  I am hooked on the language, the characters’ perspectives, and the story.  I cannot wait to continue reading this book.”

Emily Shanahan – Tarlow Breed Hart & Rodgers
“I just started a new book, The Muse, by Jessie Burton, so it is too early to tell what I think of it.  I am optimistic, however.  I read the author’s first book, The Miniaturist, which was a beautifully written and captivating story; it kept me engaged (and surprised) up until the end.  The books I recommend most frequently these days are a collection of three books by a Swedish author, Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here.  They are wonderfully told stories with quirky characters and unlikely heroes.  Backman’s books are testaments to the goodness and kindness of people without being sappy or trite.  Plus, they made me laugh.  Must reads!”

Michael Tuteur – Foley & Lardner
“I’m reading “Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets,” by Tyler Nordgren. As an astronomy buff, I am reading the book in (tremendous) anticipation of the Great American Eclipse, which (our astronomers tell us) will occur on August 21, 2017. (Who says we can’t Make American [Eclipses] Great Again?) I will be observing my very first total solar eclipse in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, at precisely 11:35 Mountain Daylight Time. For those interested in seeing the eclipse, the path of “totality” (only about 60 miles wide) will cross the Oregon coast near Salem and sweep southeast, leaving the continental US just north of Charleston, SC. A word of warning: I’ve been told that once you’ve experienced a total solar eclipse, you will be doomed to chase them for the rest of your life!

If you would like to respond to a future Voices of the Bar, make sure you send a headshot, and contact Lauren DiTullio at [email protected].

Voices of the Bar 2/23/17: Who Are You Rooting for at the Oscars?

We can’t believe it’s Oscar season already! Whether you put together your office’s annual Academy Awards pool or you have that one special film or performance that struck you this year, we reached out to ask our members about their favorites.

“What Oscar nominees are you rooting for?

Nancy Weissman – Law Offices of Nancy Weissman
“I’m rooting for Lion (for its treatment of the linked questions of identity and connection), Dr. Strange, and Sing (a Hungarian film called Mindenki in its native language). I’m invested in the last category due to an obscure connection: my distant cousin won in the Short Film: Live Action Category in 1991!”

Shannon Lynch – Beck Reed Riden
“While I have not yet seen all of the 2017 Oscar-nominated films, if I were to receive an invitation to join the 6,000-member Academy, my votes would go to Manchester-by-the SeaLa La Land, and Lion. My Best Actor vote would go to Boston’s own Casey Affleck for his emotionally-intense performance in Manchester-by-the-Sea. My vote for Best Director would go to Damien Chazelle for his mesmerizing work in the musical La La Land. In the category of Best Picture, I would cast my vote for Lion, an unforgettable story with breathtaking cinematography and gritty performances by Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel. ”

Brian Atherton – Saul Ewing
“I’m rooting for O.J., Made in America to win the Oscar for Best Documentary.”

 

Patricia Weisgerber – M. Robinson & Company
“Best Original Screenplay has to go to The Lobster. The premise was that you have 45 days to find your one true love, otherwise you get turned into your animal of choice and the main character chose a lobster. I haven’t been to Legal’s since I saw it.”

Anthony Rufo – Foley Hoag
“I am torn between Viola Davis and Michelle Williams for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.  They each have multiple nominations under their belts.   One thing they both have in common – they are almost too good.  Each is so believable in every role that it doesn’t even seem like acting.  That is the hardest thing to do. ”

Mark Fleming – WilmerHale
The Lobster – not only was it surprisingly well-written and well-acted, but it reminded me of high school and why I’m so glad those days are behind me.”

 

Dustin Hecker  – Posternak Blankstein & Lund
“As I have only seen one of the movies, with my three sons Christmas time, I will have to be rooting for Rogue One to win in the best video effects category.  Clearly, I need to get out a little bit more.  But it is college hoops season, and March Madness is right around the corner.  So I likely will be catching a few of these on Netflix.”

If you would like to respond to a future Voices of the Bar, make sure you send a headshot, and contact Lauren DiTullio at [email protected].

Meet the Managing Partner: Sugarman Rogers’ Christine Netski

Talking witness preparation, office culture, and keeping the firm nimble and collaborative

It’s unusual for an attorney to find her professional “home” by the summer of her second year of law school, but Christine Netski did just that. And in January, Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen tapped Netski to be Managing Partner and Chair of the Executive Committee. In her new role, Netski will focus on the firm’s strategic direction, while continuing to serve as the Chair of the firm’s Employment Practice Group and Co-Chair of the Business Dispute Practice Group.

What inspired you to become a lawyer?

It wasn’t until my junior year in college that I considered pursuing a career in law. I was weighing various options for graduate school and decided to participate in a summer program that Cornell Law School offered for undergraduates. The program was designed to give students a real taste of what law school would be like. The courses were taught by well-known professors and were based on the traditional first-year model, including the Socratic Method.  I absolutely loved the experience and, against the advice I usually give to college students today, I went straight to law school after college without really having a clear vision of where it would take me.  Needless to say, I am fortunate that it ended up being the right decision.

What brought you to Sugarman Rogers?

When I was a 2L at Boston University School of Law, I had an on-campus interview with Natasha Lisman, who was then a young partner at the firm. She really stood out among the other lawyers I had met during my job search – and I had interviewed with lots of different firms and for positions in the public sector. She was so passionate about her work and the firm, and she was living proof of the special opportunities that were available to young lawyers at the firm. She had tried cases, she had handled high-impact pro bono cases, she was active in the legal community and she seemed really fulfilled, both professionally and personally. I was thrilled when I was called back for a second interview.

When I showed up for the second interview, I was told that I would be meeting with 12 of the firm’s attorneys in a conference room, including, of course, the founding partners. At that time, the firm had 14 lawyers, and the practice was for every attorney, if possible, to participate in second interviews of candidates, even summer law clerks. This sent a powerful message that cultural fit was very important to the firm. Although this experience was a tad intimidating for a 23-year old who had gone straight to law school from college, I was able to see how the group interacted and I came away with the strong sense that these lawyers really liked and respected each other and truly enjoyed the practice of law.

You’ve stayed with SRBC ever since that first summer: is the culture the same?

Of course, nothing stays exactly the same over more than 30 years, but we have certainly maintained the most important aspects of our culture. I think our high level of collegiality and genuine love of the profession help us build the kinds of relationships with clients, with each other, and with the community that make for a successful enterprise. The world has changed dramatically since I joined the firm, but we have, by design, maintained a manageable size that has allowed us to retain our very collaborative structure. This, in turn, has allowed us to be nimble in responding to the rapid changes in the legal market that we’ve been experiencing. On top of that, we continue to attract really talented lawyers who share our values as a firm.

What’s a memorable moment for you as a lawyer?

One of the most satisfying and challenging aspects of litigating cases is preparing witnesses and seeing how their testimony unfolds at deposition or trial. For me, some of the most memorable moments have been those situations where witnesses really shine under pressure.

One example was in a case where our client, a technology company, was sued by a customer for allegedly misrepresenting its capability to deliver a global recruitment outsourcing solution. The project at issue in the case was very technical and the evidence was full of “business speak,” but there was a human story underneath the surface that explained why things went wrong and why our client wasn’t at fault. One of our key witnesses was the director of the consulting services unit that implemented the project for the customer. She explained the scope of the work in clear and simple language, much like a good teacher, articulating the customer’s lack of participation and “buy-in” at each critical juncture of the timeline. She was able to communicate our themes in a way that clearly resonated with the jurors’ everyday experiences, capturing the motivations and perceptions of the people involved and providing the overall structure for how we hoped the jury would view the rest of the evidence in the case. Her testimony went so well that the client’s CEO commented that he learned valuable information about their business from watching her testify. And, after it was over, the witness commented that she really appreciated the opportunity to excel in this challenging context, especially in front of the CEO.

Of course, testifying is not always such a positive experience for the witness, but the hard work of witness preparation often yields results that no one anticipated and sometimes those results have little to do with the case itself.

Voices of the Bar 2/2/17: Boston Attorneys Respond to Executive Order on Immigration

As you’ve likely read in the news, on Saturday night, many attorneys joined fellow citizens in opposition of President Trump’s executive order banning  immigrants from seven countries from entering, or re-entering, the U.S.

We asked our members who were there to share something about what they saw, what they did, and what they were feeling on Saturday night when the dropped what they were doing (some even went straight from the Boston Bar Foundation’s Adams Benefit, the area’s largest fundraiser for legal aid, to help) and rushed to Logan Airport and to the federal courthouse.

Matthew Segal – American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts
“The ACLU told President Trump we would see him in court if he ordered this unconstitutional ban on Muslims, and we have. As soon as we heard about the illegal, unconstitutional, and dangerous Muslim ban, we began trying to help its victims. On Saturday, January 28, I learned from attorneys Susan Church and Kerry Doyle about U.S. lawful permanent residents who were being detained at Logan Airport. Lawyers from the ACLU of Massachusetts, Mintz Levin, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association of New England sprang into action. We hurried to draft and file a complaint, and to ask the federal court to convene an emergency hearing. The court agreed.

We all rushed to the Moakley Courthouse in Boston, and two federal judges heard our arguments in the middle of the night, in front of a courtroom packed with civil rights advocates and journalists. By the time the hearing ended, just before 2 a.m., we had historic rulings from federal courts in Boston and throughout the nation to block the ban, at least temporarily. Now we are fighting for its full repeal.”

Heather Yountz – Demissie & Church
“Susan Church and I went to the airport on Saturday afternoon to hang some fliers with information about free legal advice for family members of people who may be detained. An Air France flight came in around 5:30, and we noticed a few people standing in front of us staring at the door where passengers were coming out. I told Susan that they had been waiting for a while. One of the women said something like “case by case basis.” Susan immediately popped up. From the moment we spoke with them, we knew we had at least one plaintiff. The airport scene was very loud. Hundreds of protesters were chanting and holding signs, police officers were standing by, Elizabeth Warren arrived, and reporters and cameras were everywhere.

In the midst of it all, Susan and I were coordinating with the ACLU to prepare the paperwork for a lawsuit and to find an available judge.  At the same time, we were trying to protect our clients from the media. As we waited, some of our plaintiffs were released. A judge agreed to have a hearing at 9:30 PM in the Federal Courthouse. We raced from the airport to the court, and met Kerry Doyle, the ACLU attorneys, and several other lawyers there. While we waited for the judges to arrive, we went over the briefs and discussed our various arguments. We coordinated with Derege Demissie, Susan’s husband and law partner, who was filing the paperwork from home. He was on the phone with us until well after midnight. The judges did not make a decision until nearly two in the morning.

What I remember the most was the feeling of everyone coming together. In the airport, there were several attorneys assisting Susan and me every step of the way. In the courtroom, the clerks and court staff did everything they could to help us move the case forward in an efficient manner. There were more than six attorneys who joined us in the courtroom for the remainder of the night. When the restraining order was issued, we were thrilled with the result. It was more than we had asked for. It was a true team effort.”

Joshua Daniels – Goodwin
“I was protesting the executive order at the international terminal at Logan on Saturday night when I got a text from a very good law school friend. She said that she was at the Boston Bar Foundation Adams Benefit, and that Sue Finegan (whom I’ve worked with a lot over the last few months in connection with the Appeals Court’s civil clinic) was on her way to the airport to support other lawyers seeking an emergency TRO.  I emailed Sue and asked if she could use any help, since I was already there.  She met me there, we rushed over to federal court, and I spent the rest of the night researching case law and statutory provisions on my phone to help the AILA and ACLU lawyers who argued the TRO that evening, at around 11:50 p.m.  An unconventional way to spend Saturday night, but I can think of none better.”

Susan Finegan – Mintz Levin
“Throughout the day last Saturday, my Mintz partner Susan Cohen and I had been in touch with Susan Church, president of AILA, to monitor what was happening at the Logan Airport after the executive order issued.  Around 8 p.m., while at the Boston Bar Foundation’s Adams Benefit, I received an urgent call from Susan Church that Customs and Border Patrol had detained a few professors, and that the ACLU was preparing a habeas petition for an emergency filing that evening.  Susan asked me to come to the airport to assist, so I ran out the door (leaving my coat and valeted car) and jumped in a cab with my husband and a law student, Merry Sheehan, who were also at the Adams Benefit.

We had a difficult time getting to Terminal E, given the an ongoing protest and extensive police presence. When we arrived, we learned that there would be a hearing in federal court imminently.  In the meantime, I got an email from Josh Daniels from Goodwin, who happened to be at the airport (at the protest), so we picked him up and headed over in a cab to the federal court to help the lawyers there in any way we could.

It was certainly a unique Saturday night; the Court issued the order at 1:45 a.m.  It has been a whirlwind since, as Mintz Levin is now partnering with the ACLU, the Attorney General’s office and others on this important case, standing up for the rights of these particular individuals and for all individuals, regardless of their nationality, race or religion, whose right to due process has been denied by this overly broad and unlawful action.”

If you would like to respond to a future Voices of the Bar, make sure you send a headshot, and contact Lauren DiTullio at [email protected].

Voices of the Bar 1/26/17: What changes do you expect in your practice area under the new administration?

With a variety of policy issues currently in the news, we wanted to hear from our members about what they expect to change in their practice area under the Trump administration. We reached out specifically to real estate, health law, immigration law and trust and estates law attorneys.

For this week’s “Voices of the Bar” column, we’re reaching out to ask:

“What changes do you expect in your practice area under the new administration?

Tara Myslinski – O’Connor, Carnathan & Mack
“I don’t expect any changes to my business litigation practice due to the new administration. I will continue to work to keep our profession above the fray and to reject the pervasive use of falsehoods and derision of opponents that we are seeing in our politics. Outside of my practice, I expect a lot to change. I expect to spend a lot more of my free time working on behalf of the causes in which I believe, especially protecting the environment and human rights, and supporting elected officials who stand by these values.”

Colin Zick – Foley Hoag
“As a health care attorney, I have spent the better part of the last seven years working on matters related to the Affordable Care Act.  Now we are looking at the repeal, revision and/or replacement of significant portions of ACA by the Trump Administration  It’s difficult to imagine a bigger 180 degree turn in law and policy than we are looking at.”

Jeffrey Pike – Goulston & Storrs
“I’m optimistic that the development community will continue to build on the positive momentum of the past several years.  The Trump transition team has purportedly identified fifty or so projects that they have deemed priorities for our national infrastructure, including finalizing the Green Line extension from Cambridge to Somerville and Medford.  While it remains to be seen whether the federal funding will actually make it to the Hub, initiatives to increase public and private investment – whether through tax reform, direct funding or otherwise – should have wide implications across a multitude of sectors of our economy, with the real estate community being an obvious beneficiary.”


Quinn Hetrick – Mintz Levin
“Trump’s tax proposals call for the repeal of the estate and GST tax, which would bigly impact the trusts and estates practice. If these proposals are passed, estate planners would need to shift our focus to asset protection planning, income tax planning, and the potential return of the estate tax under alternate facts.”

If you would like to respond to a future Voices of the Bar, make sure you send a headshot, and contact Lauren DiTullio at [email protected].

The Most Interesting Lawyer of the Week: Spartan Race’s Darren Braham

“My daily to do list and what I end up actually doing are usually very different!”

 Darren Braham’s words describe the practice of every in-house lawyer. But as General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Spartan Race, the variety of tasks on his plate is wide. One day, he might visit the site of a race (there are more than 120 of them around the world). The next, he might be negotiating with strategic partners on a project like opening the first ever Spartan Gym, which recently opened in a South Beach hotel or dealing with national sponsors such as Panasonic or TomTom. Other days, he might be on the phone with NBC. The network televises races on NBC Sports and launched a competition-based reality show, Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge, last year on NBC Broadcast.

If that wasn’t enough to fill a work day, he also oversees the company’s insurance and intellectual property portfolios, as well as managing the company’s litigation working with outside counsel. Part of Braham’s work centers around liability concerns, and the safety of participants, which is paramount.

Or maybe you’ve done a race yourself. Spartan Race hosts a popular event at Fenway Park every November, one, Braham, said he loves because of the iconic status of the venue and the proximity to the corporate offices in Boston offering Spartan’s HQ personnel to experience the product. The Fenway race is a “Sprint,” which means it’s about three miles long (as opposed to Spartan’s longer Super and Beast races). The obstacles in the path of the participants range from the expected – such as ropes and walls to climb – to the unexpected, like a cargo net participants must scale alongside the
Green Monster.

“Whether it’s the vendors, venues, sponsorships and transactional matters that go into producing a race …my to-do list is about 45 different things outstanding, and inevitably, something new comes up every day!” Braham said.

Spartan Race has four production teams in the US and Braham states “an important part of our risk mitigation process is to make sure practices are consistent at every race.”

Braham ensures the company’s trademarks are protected around the world, from competing organizations as well as well-meaning participants who may design t-shirts or other race materials that unintentionally infringe.

Braham has been with the company for nearly three years, and in that time, the relatively new industry of popular obstacle course races has proliferated.

“It’s been a fun few years since I’ve been here. Spartan Race and the sport of obstacle course racing has grown exponentially and it’s been quite a ride: personally and professionally. When I thought about moving in-house, being involved in every aspect of the company really appealed to me and this role has not disappointed,” he said.

For an attorney whose background is not in litigation – Braham practiced commercial and corporate law in a firm setting before joining Spartan Race – the learning curve was swift. But Braham embraced the challenge with enthusiasm, delving into other matters related to intellectual property, insurance, brand building and event planning that had not previously been part of his repertoire.

On moving in-house, Braham offers two pieces of advice: go to a company that offers a service or product that you can personally get behind, and remember that you will always have something to do when you get in to the office tomorrow.

“It’s very different being at a law firm where you’re billing your time and making sure that everything is perfect. You’re dotting “I”’s and crossing “T”’s – which is what paying clients expect and should receive,” Braham said. “Working in-house, I’m constantly drinking from a firehose and I don’t have the luxury to spend the same amount of time on matters as I did in a law firm setting. I make sure the company is protected, but if the formatting is off, then so be it!”

He does, however, have the luxury of being able to catch a race now and again.

“When you’re in HQ in Boston, it’s very different from being on a mountainside in Breckenridge, Tahoe, or Killington. Breckenridge’s highest obstacle is almost 13,000 feet up in the air, and we have 10,000 to 12,000 people running through a 15 mile course around the mountain,” he said. “It’s a very positive tribal atmosphere and it’s gratifying to see the legal department’s work become realized.”

Hear Advice From Brand Yourself 2.0 Speakers

The legal profession is rapidly changing. Gone are the days where you make partner first and build a book of business second. The ability to foster relationships and leverage contacts as an associate is critical to showcasing your value to the firm and pushing you forward on the path to partnership.

On February 2nd, the Boston Bar Association will host Brand Yourself 2.0. This interactive workshop-style conference will provide the opportunity for mid-level associates to work with business development and marketing professionals to build written business development plan as well as a strategy to remain accountable to that plan.

We reached out to some of our Brand Yourself 2.0 panelists to ask them:

“What advice would you give to an associate looking to cultivate a personal brand?”

Keynote Speaker David Ackert – Ackert Advisory
“Your brand defines a significant component of your business development strategy, so I would tell an associate to consider what skill set they are looking to highlight. For example, a general commercial litigator must make the case that he/she has a meaningful understanding of the trends and nuances that pertain to a wide range of prospective clients. On the other hand, the litigator who has branded his/her practice per a specific industry (e.g. SaaS companies), will have tried numerous matters directly related to SaaS, attended SaaS conferences, presented to SaaS audiences, understand SaaS jargon, and ultimately be a more attractive option for a discerning client in that space.”

Kristen Weller – Burns & Levinson
“I would advise an associate to ask him/herself two questions. Who do you want your clients to be? What kind of challenges are you the best at solving? You want to create and build a personal brand based on the intersection between the problems your clients have and the solutions you can provide. Keep this top of mind as you interact with current clients, introduce yourself to people, join organizations, write your bio, develop your LinkedIn summary, and post content for your followers. Choose marketing activities that fit your strengths and put you in front of potential clients. Don’t forget to develop and nurture everyone in your network – family, friends, colleagues, competitors, school alumni, community – and make sure they understand your personal brand and what you have to offer. You never know who might hire or refer you, so you need consistent messaging in every facet of your life.”

 

If you would like to register for Brand Yourself 2.0, please click here.