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NaBloPoMo day 3: Being a “Pro”

What do you consider yourself a “pro” at?

zebra-social-media-expertI’ve spent years thinking that it is presumptuous to declare yourself a “pro” at anything, and that instead it is up to others to identify and announce your expertise.  So I sat back quietly, waiting for someone to call me up and tell me how much they want me to give a presentation about all these things that I know.  THIS IS NOT HOW THE WORLD WORKS.  People don’t know what you know unless you tell them.  Declaring yourself a “pro” at anything of course must be preceded by a lot of elbow grease, patience, and really gaining the expertise in your claimed area.  Then you tell people what you know about by writing about it, and helping people out whenever you can when they have a question of your area, and writing some more, and reaching out to the world and offering your expertise.  I’ve had to put my squeamishness over being presumptuous aside.  You won’t be recognized as an expert until you are an expert, and you show the world that you are an expert.

I’m a pro in two things:

1. Allegheny County local civil procedure. I rock the socks off this county’s local practice (bookmark this page because you will never see that phrase again).  My first 3 years in practice were spent at a small firm.  This was simultaneously the most stressful experience in the history of the universe, and also the absolute best thing for my career and comfort/familiarity with local practice.  When you work for a small firm, you are thrown RIGHT into the fire.  It’s not “sink or swim” because sinking is not an option.  Even though you are just barely a lawyer, you still are a lawyer, and you are representing people and their rights and interests.  Failure is not an option.  So you figure things out, sometimes you do things right, rarely do things turn out to be actually wrong, and almost all the time you get by with doing things not-quite-right-but-close-enough-that-it-gets-the-job-done-and-everything-turns-out-ok.

I’m lucky to practice in a county that is incredibly forgiving with local practice.  If something is not-quite-right, the court will still hear it.  And after thousands of hours of getting it almost-right, you start getting it actually right more and more often, and you go from wading in a fog to actually knowing how to do stuff. And that’s where I am now.  I know how to do stuff.

2. Blogging and law (but not Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog).  Holy cow, I’ve been blogging nearly eight years now.  And I’ve gone from a blogging college student to a blogging law student to a blogging lawyer.  And now my practice also incorporates the intersection between law and social media.  That intersection is staggeringly broad. It’s like saying “I am an expert in the internet.” It is so broad it is virtually meaningless.  My expertise is more specifically in defamation issues and discovery issues (i.e. when and in what circumstances can your social media content get dragged into a lawsuit).  I’m working on an article/presentation about social media defamation issues right now that I’m really excited about, details to come as it progresses!!

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NaBloPoMo Day 2: Workin’ it from Home

working-from-homeI have a love/hate relationship with remote access to work. I love it on days like today:  I had a lot of work to do, but was also down to yoga pants as the only clean clothes in my house, and it being the weekend, I wanted to see my family.  If it were 10 years ago, I’d be stuck having to haul in to the office for the better part of the day (with laundry left undone, and a lonely kid).  Now, thanks to good VPN access, I can throw a load of laundry in the washer, open up my laptop, and get work done as the little one dances around to the Wiggles. And working on the weekend is much more pleasant if you can work in your jammies.

I don’t often work from home.  One main reason is because I have to be on the phone a lot, and we have 2 parrots at home. Try to explain parrot noises on a client call. It’s not pretty.  Also, I do love the structure and professionalism of an office environment.  In a pinch, though, the access is priceless.

Remote access is also perfect for when I need to think creatively and intensely.  Appellate briefs in particular require uninterrupted focus.  My office is not a place for uninterrupted focus.  There are always people calling and stopping by.  I love that with remote access I can park myself in a quiet, vacant corner of the library and get my thoughts together.

The downside of remote access is that it means you can work everywhere, anywhere, all the time.  Sick days become work from home days.  It’s virtually impossible to have a true day away. The answer is setting personal boundaries, but that is often not a practical answer in the legal field.  Courts and clients have deadlines and needs, regardless of whether you’ve got the flu.  It’s nice to not have to scramble for a Plan B, but it would also be nice to actually not have to worry about working when you’re feeling under the weather.

On the whole, remote access is a blessing for my family.  My husband and I both work hours-intense jobs, and our ability to get the household to run and also to spend time with our daughter (admittedly sometimes multitasking, but time while on the laptop is better than no time at all), is only possible because we are able to, when the need arises, work from the couch.

Does remote access give you freedom, or keep you tethered to your work?

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December NaBloPoMo: Workin’ it

National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) started off as a response to National Novel Writing Month.  BlogHer somehow positioned itself as the “official” NaBloPoMo site, and while November remains the official month, they have stretched the event over the whole year with different themes and prompts.

NaBloPoMo_122012_465_287_prompts

December’s theme is Work (click for the prompts).  Although work is a massive part of my in-real-life life, it takes up a disproportionally small amount of space on this blog.  I love the prompts that BlogHer has posted, and am challenging myself to complete the month with their posts.  There aren’t prompts assigned for the weekends, so I’ll come up with my own topics on the theme.  I will also continue to add in some non-work posts from time to time.  Despite the theme, writing about work of course will not involve me writing about office gossip or clients/engagements.  Rather, the theme focuses on more general issues of work, motivation and discipline.

Since today is a weekend and therefore a pick my own prompt day, I’m going to kick this off with some warm fuzzies about good things that happened at work this week:

-My research and briefing resulted in a positive result for an important client.  The main partner on the matter sent a firm-wide email congratulating me on my hard work, and it totally made my day.

-I got calls on two new engagements this week.  One was specifically about a defamation case about a blogger, which is right in my niche practice area, and I’ve been working hard to develop recognition for my knowledge in this area.  Building a book of business is a slow and tricky process, and I’m ecstatic to see things start moving in that direction.

Legal Intelligencer asked me to write regular Young Lawyer columns!  You can look forward to see columns from me quarterly!

Happy December, all!

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End of NaBloPoMo, and a This American Life favorite

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo.  I’ve successfully posted every day.  I’ve had a fairly easy time of it, because I guess I like to talk and talk and talk and talk.

Admittedly, yesterday and today I have struggled to think of interesting topics. I considered writing about how I’m afraid American Horror Story might already be jumping the shark with the whole Black Dahlia storyline, or I could do yet another post about food or shoes.

Instead, I’ve decided to share my absolute favorite episode of This American Life:  In Dog We Trust.

The contributors in this episode share stories of the animals that fill their lives with laughter and love.  Chapter 3–Resurrection, is an armadillo story that had me doubled over laughing.

Now that NaBloPoMo is over, I’ll resume my normal posting habits…which is posting *almost* every day.  At least I won’t scramble for a topic on a day like today, when I’m feeling braindead and don’t have much to say.


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Memories of Barcelona

Even though the last few days have been mild, temperature wise, they’ve still been rainy and blah.  It’s times like these when I daydream back on sunny vacations.

Today I was thinking a lot about the wonderful Mediterranean honeymoon trip Mr. Beez and I took in 2009.  A few days in Barcelona was a highlight of that trip.  In addition to being beautiful and easily navigable, the city is just so friendly.  It feels completely livable.  There are so many places I’ve visited that I’ve thought were completely lovely, but perfect for a visit and then a return home.  Barcelona’s not like that– I could see myself staying there forever.

La Boqueria.  I could spend days and days and days here, going from vendor to vendor, snacking on fruits and veggies, and picking fresh meats and fish.

Everywhere you look in Barcelona is beautiful.  The architecture is breathtaking, the views are amazing, every direction is a sight to behold.

Gaudi’s creations throughout the city add whimsy.

 

And there are ample open air cafes for a late afternoon drink and relaxation.

I know plenty of people who have visited this magical city, and I’ve never heard a bad word about it.  I’d love to go back, but I worry that a visit of a week, even two, wouldn’t be enough.  If you have to leave Barcelona, you will leave it heartsick to return.