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Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the LawThe newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law

December 2011, vol. 22, no. 2

Chair’s column

The holiday season generally puts people in an upbeat and generous mood. Over the next month, we, as practitioners, should take the opportunity to express some of that goodwill cheer in our everyday practice. One way to incorporate the positive vibes of the season in your work life is to play holiday music in your office. For the past few years, beginning on November 1st, I choose various online Web sites to play holiday-themed music. I purposefully set the volume just high enough where other attorneys and staff in my firm can hear the jingle of a sleigh bell or a familiar melody that reminds them of the holiday season when walking by my office. It is amazing how a little lighthearted music will spark conversations about childhood holiday memories or plans to make sure family and loved ones have a happy holiday season. These memories and conversations provide a brief, yet pleasant distraction from the routine of the day.

Beyond the office, practitioners can wear symbols of the holiday season in the form of a bracelet, lapel pin, tie, handkerchief, or other accessories so as to be festive, but appropriately dressed for court appearances and meetings out of the office. I must admit, I am especially fond of bold fashion statements my fellow practitioners make through a holiday-themed purse or dress socks. Holiday apparel also fosters great, spontaneous, conversations with clients and attorneys you might not have spoken with but for a compliment paid to the person. Holiday apparel even serves as great icebreakers with judges on the bench between motions. Inevitably, each year, someone always has a story about how a relative or good friend prompted the wearing of a certain item.

Once the workday ends, classic holiday videos like Home for the Holidays, A Charlie Brown Christmas and the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol take me to a different time and place. I find myself smiling and laughing, reminiscing and crying. At those moments, there are no billable hours, no clients who want more work done for less money, and no motions or briefs to be written. By allowing myself this outlet, when I return to the duties of practicing law I am more enthused and ready to go that extra mile at the office. I converse with my clients with greater confidence and they see that the quality of my work is truly worth the money. I note that even my pen scrolls across the pages of documents more easily, making the writing process for a brief or memorandum for the court a little less burdensome.

During this holiday season, do not take practicing law so seriously that you miss out on the joy of the holiday season. If you allow yourself to embrace the mood of the season in your practice, you cannot help but have a pleasant disposition during your workday. I challenge each reader to develop a niche when it comes to enjoying the holiday season while handling work case load. If you have already developed a holiday routine you are comfortable with, encourage someone else to carve out a special way to take pleasure in the season. Arriving at the office in a good mood sets the tone for the rest of the day. I can honestly say that law becomes a little more fun for me during this time of the year.

Our committee hopes that you enjoy the rest of the newsletter and remember to spread a little holiday cheer this season.

NOTE: We have included information about the Diversity Leadership Award on page three of this newsletter. Please be sure to review the eligibility information and nominate someone or an organization you know to be deserving of this award. The person or organization selected to receive the award will be recognized at the ISBA Annual Meeting in June 2012. Questions or comments can be directed to tobyeveland@aol.com. ■


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