When speaking with students – an opportunity I seize just as often as I can – I talk, naturally, about the tangible career-building benefits of belonging to the OBA, but I also underscore the less quantifiable but perhaps even more lasting impact of engaging with this community.
When we start out on this path, there are many dazzling, larger-than-life lawyers we look up to – those whose careers, abilities and achievements inspire us and, often, leave us in awe. The opportunities to learn from those grandiose game-changers and to gain access to their insight and expertise – through OBA CPD programs, or call-in series, or award dinners, or articles – help us become more savvy, knowledgeable lawyers.
The opportunities to actually meet and interact with these leaders in law – to chat with them, to laugh with them, to even learn alongside them – through OBA book clubs, or cooking demonstrations, or mentorship events, or cultural celebrations – help us become more confident, content lawyers. We are reminded that, no matter how experienced, or accomplished, or imposing-in-court any of our cohort may be, we are all, at the end of the day, just people. People who serve our clients to the very best of our abilities with an air of assurance and unflappability, but people who also possess myriad non-legal interests, hectic personal lives, and many moments of self-doubt.
This reality is the crux of the OBA’s “Serving the Whole Lawyer’ approach but it’s also a real comfort, I think, to those who sense there is such a thing as a perfect career – a successive string of victories toward dominance in a field – when the truth is we all experience setbacks, defeats and embarrassments that make us better in the long run … not to mention more resilient and relatable! And commiserating with others who have walked in our shoes is all part of how we gain perspective and grow.
There is plenty out there in the world to discourage us and drag us down – the OBA is where we come to be buoyed and built up by those who empathize and understand.
In my final President’s Message of 2022, I present this plea to all dedicated members of this demanding and rewarding calling: Let’s not be our own worst critics. Take a look at this video message from members of the OBA’s first all-female officers’ team in celebration of Women’s History Month, and you’ll find a theme in the ‘advice to my new-to-the-profession-self’: be less hard on yourself and more gentle; trust and be true to yourself; slow down and invest as much in your self-care as you do your career. Sage advice for all of us, regardless of age or stage.
I wish you a holiday break in which you can celebrate your triumphs and shake off your self-doubt, and a New Year that is happy, hopeful and fulfilling.