2011-03-27 - 12:12 a.m.
This one is an e-mail I wrote to the senior corporate lawyer with 20 years of experince who sent me some professional tips and advice by e-mail and said " I hope I am not coming across as preachy but am here to help out if you like" He gave some good tips. I wrote this in response, then saved it as a DRAFT for ME and send a brief "THANK YOU"
He is so much like me in ways the ADHD attorney. That is not at ALL UNCOMMON. He is one of the few who ADMITS IT!
GREAT TIP FROM THAT ATTORNEY AS THAT IS SOMETHING I AM TERRIBLE AT! I DO A TASK AND SEND IT OFF WITHOUT THE FOLLOW THROUGH OF TELLING THE ATTORNEY OR CLIENT WHAT I DID AND WHY AS IF THE DELIVERBALE IS SELF EXPLAINITORY. REMINDER TO SELF: NO ONE IS A MIND READER BE CLEAR IN COMMUNICATING WHAT I ACTUALLY DID! Transmittal Letter? I never did that, even in the e-mail accompanying my deliverable. My e-mails are like: "Here is the draft of the contract for XXXX for your review" and THAT IS IT. That is where I fall short in MY communication.
Attorney also wrote:
" If you are short of time, do what you are tasked with, noting to yourself other issues that you may spot along the way. Touch base with the attorney part way into the task and find out if he/she wants you to delve into any of these issues or even to keep noting them. It's also a good way to make sure that you're headed in the right direction for your assignred task, too. I was always torn between taking the time to talk to my bosses and clients about their matters that I was handling and using that time to work on the task. Choose the former. (I usually chose the latter and it bit me many times.) It's important to get a job done right and on time, but if you are forced to choose between the two, get it done on time. (I also would tend to choose the other way, and it would cost me.) If you need more time to complete a project, get with your client/boss to see if the deadline may be extended. You and I know all too well that clients will "need" something yesterday, but if you check back with the client/boss you may find that you have more flexibility than you realized. Again, that goes back to the talking to the client about the matter thing, and, of course, I would tend to choose incorrectly."
I hear all the time "FOCUS ON YOUR JOB"
SO HAVE TO THINK TO SELF:
DON'T TAKE ON OTHER PEOPLE'S ISSUES as a reminder to focus on the task at hand and not worry about EVERY possible kink or problem I see on the way.
MY RESPONSE I DIDN'T SEND:
No, Not at all preachy and not second nature. I have ten years legal experience however eight of those were part time dabbling and working for myself with a couple attorneys who supervised in Western Loudoun - primarily independently (and while I was primarily in the role of managing a family farm and raising kids.)
Work at the BIA was easy: Research and issue and hand over a report of some matter related to the current poltical climate of a country or region the board member was handling polical asylum cases, and working with understanding refugee patterns or reviewing a scenario and compiling history of relevant case precedent.
When I ran my own company in that role I'd pick up an H1B Visa need and turned over the deliverable on average two weeks later with the package off in the mail to St Albans VT for the most part- signed, sealed and delivered.
I had one client at a time and managed it myself and it was again not hard at all. I drafted letters from individuals marriage counselors after talking with them (seriously the best evidence of a bona fide marriage when it was questioned by INS! Seriously many people truly married have had someone help along the way!), or church leaders, or teachers, or employers of individuals attesting to their status and contribution of the community and after a few phone calls drafted letters I sent off to the individual to approve, or edit as needed to see I captured their sentiment accurately, and sign and send back to me. It was again easy as it was a pleasure for me to help people and I had a knack for making some who are guarded open up.
It was truly fun and satisfying work that I was really good at. I mean there is nothing like attending a Naturalization ceremony of someone who has lived and worked here for twenty years contributing to my own community. I was pleased to have been able to bring my oldest daughter to a ceremony last year for someone who had filed their Naturalization application about 18 months before who had been a woman I assisted in successfully fighting deportation years before. ( Total aside here: Do you know that having worked in the Immigration arena how amazing it is to me that the liars and fakers who are going in to scam are the ones who have all their ducks in a row so to speak: The pictures of their "courtship" and "marriage" , and all sorts of evidence, but the TRULY REAL bonafide marriages have a heck of a harder time PROVING it is real as they typically were just really in love and living and didn't document and save "Evidence" of their life! Its really remarkable and I think now perhaps will have changes with social networking and digital cameras, however 15 years ago the poor really were not prolific picture takers as frankly that was an expensive hobby. That always fascinated me- the real burden faced by those were were HONEST, and how EASY it was for the liars and sneaky manipulators who were not ethical in using our system.)
I had two attorneys I worked with that supervised my work as I routed work through their office as the word got out of my business and through word of mouth people sought me out. I would tell them I work with one of the two and send them through the office and meet them there to work and have the attorney review the case and my assessment and approve and sign all paperwork. One attorney was a tax, business and mostly a wills and estate lawyer, and the other was the NICEST man in the world but frankly the worst business man I ever encountered! Heart of gold but he didn't have the heart to compel all of his clients to actually PAY him. Therefore only some did.That business relationship came to an end after a couple of years as I was a better business person than him so initially I would only take on a matter if he paid me half upfront! However soon enough I wasn't paid in full for a Visa I prepared for one of his clients. He had issues managing his practice and when he owed me $2000 it was time for me to let go of that relationship. I can't work for free so just let it go and ended that working relationship (amicably but over nonetheless.)
The tax attorney wanted to work with me to be able to offer business immigration services to his Western Loudoun business clients-- lots of small businesses like contruction, landscaping, restraunts, farms etc that have immigration labor needs.
It ended up being a rather comical collaboration however in the end. I mean I think a sitcom could be made that would be hilarious of the reality of that scenario: Just imagine a Middleburg office service the wealthy Western Loudouners coming in to see their attorney, and then seeing the farm laborers from their neighbor and friend's from across the way walk in with CASH to pay the same office for services on Fridays. The poor West VA secretary was quite overwealmed with the hispanic men coming in on Friday's paying her in cash and flirting profusely with her. It was truly hilarious to me ( as after working immigration for years one learns very quickly how to interpret and not even feel threatened by Latino men by quickly making boundaries VERY CLEAR and directly addressing them). I should have seen that scenario coming, but as I former worked at the BIA on the govt judicial end, and in refugee services where the work was Pro Bono, the simply reality of the economics of immigrant laborers was not something I had thought about. We did also have on the other end of the spectrum clients who were investors and calls with counsulates overseas and some really need interesting work with clients those bitty old Middleburg ladies who like to pretend they were English Aristocrats would be THRILLED to have met in the office. The spectrum was broad and it was fascinating and fun and I was good at it, but that poor office had NO CLUE what they were getting themselves into.
It was this juxtaposition of two worlds in one little office that noone could forsee could have just ruined that attorney's viable income prouducing business of managing the old wealthy clients' wills and estates!
Seriously! It was rather comical, but also rather a sad reality. It made me upset to see we have not come far in begin able to overcome racism and social stratification and not being able to respect others and undersand their differences.
Soemthing we didn't have the foresight to see when starting the collaboration... I was a little young and naive.
Enough said on that except that I was left without a decent supervising attorney and while it worked having a collaboration with the two offices for a while came to its end of life cycle.
And at that end , realize I had served clients but had NEVER had ANYONE give me any constructive criticism or opportunity for professional growth along the way which is often the case when working for yourself. My skill set was of course stronger, and I did learn by doing- but not from others as much as my own trial and error.
So seriously I came to XXXXX with extensive mangement experience, but as a contract manager and work in the legal arena VERY GREEN.
I have come a long way in three years!
The below however is spot on for me. I highlighted the comments that are truly helpful. You managed to pick out exactly the areas I will benefit from the wisdom of your experience.
I appreachiate it.
Funny however, I have actually been seeking a literal mentor. I found a female attorney as a professional in finance who clicked with me at some events ( some volunteer thing) asked if I wanted a mentor and referred me to a good friend of hers who is an international lawyer with XXXX. But we never connected. ( I think she wasn't that interested, although the finance lady was impressed enough with me and likes me and thought this was a great idea-- it was not the lawyer's idea!)
I had a fabulous mentor relationship with my first boss the first year here, but honestly I think since she left as my manager I just haven't clicked with any of the other attorneys to have that kind of repoire with. I am seeking that in someone to assist me in my professional development.
Last year I even hired a professional life coach to coach me in organizational skills and professional development- but seriously that didn't go too well. The only one I found was not what I need as I think my skill set is as strong as his! I kind of gave up on that notion $5000 later.... He was GOOD but good for some who not as far along in their awareness of their issues. He focused on IDENTIFICATION and after $5000 I didn't have much added value as he said nothing I didn't know ALREADY. I needed more HANDS ON direction and advice- which he would have offered but it was taking too long and costing too much to GET THERE with him. (At least for now as I realize it is not affordable to hire the kind of contructive professional I really would benefit from.)
That all being said, I try to be sure I don't enter social relationships with men that hope to "save me" or "improve" me, as I have learned that is a recipie for failure. All too often men who like "projects" find me of interest ! ( HA HA!!! Seriously true however)
I joked with a girlfriend today that I have what I have coined "NADAR"
But take this in jest and know I am not offended nor find your resposiveness to what I have expressed are both my fears and need areas of development as condescending in any way.
I did reach out ; )
That I think is in fact the difference. I opened up this conversation.
OH, and as for my joking term... Ralph Nader is undoubtedly a narcissitic man. I have picked up what looks like a B rate movie of his biography called "An Unreasonable Man" that maybe I will be able to sit through and be amused by some night. In any event I amuse myself with play on words when able...as at heart am still a literature geek.
So I do apprechiate the feedback. The three highlighted areas below are truly helpful. I am just TERRIBLE at communicating what I have done when handling a task. I was the boss of a team for over ten years. Everyone reported TO ME. In those jobs I really didn't every have to report my step by step process of working to anyone.
I had measurable criteria others could see as evidence of my preformance: Things like staff turnover, staff success in promotion in the company; budgets - including the number of hours for overtime ( proudly ZERO in my sites!). I was a fiscal whiz managing a business. ( Hilarious as to be honest I am just TERRIBLE at managing my own finances!! Not all me, but it seems there is always SOME mess up that gets me in hot water. I am seriously considering finding an accountant to pay to manage my finances for me! It might SAVE me money I throw away on dumb financial errors about once every 6 mos due to simply FORGETTING to follow up as I am NOT organized enough at home, or forgetting to pay a bill, or paying a bill I DON'T Owe anymore like I did last month as I forgot to turn off autopay!)
So the first point and second I highlighted are areas I need to seriously improve in. I have a terrible tendency to forge ahead and get a task done on my own and fall short in the communication. I tend to not take enough clear notes of HOW and WHY I do something ( when there is a judgement and discretion involved) and then later forget to articulate WHY Somethign is drafted the way it is. I For example, I might review an Agreement and draft an order of precedence clause as needed based on my review of the Master Agreement but forget to take the note down as to WHY it is there.
Now my old boss TRUSTED my thorough review of an Agreement after time. She had the confidence that I had reviewed and drafted as needed and she would ask some quesitons but not question EVERYTHING. So the thing is there is more scrutiny and questioning and then at times I have NO RECOLLECTION of why I did something If I didn't jot down the notes, so then I have to do the review of an Agreement AGAIN to see why somethign was done some way and be able to answer some question about a deal. That is just TERRIBLE. ( It happens if I send a draft and it sits in the reviewing attorney's box for a few days before being flipped back to me.)
So its a terrible short term memory limitation. If I don't take notes I look like an idiot that is clueless as when questioned two days later I have NO RECOLLECTION of the deal at first until I pull my notes and then it all comes back. But if I don't take DETAILED notes then I don't really EVERY detail.
So its frustrating as I feel like the scrutiny is due to a lack of trust in my capability.
I want to say "Don' t you know that I do my job WELL and Thoroughly by now! Isnt it a SAFE assumption that if I drafted an Order of Precedence it was not a random fluke but based on reading the contract for some reason??? JUST TRUST ME"
But I can't help but think much of the time the scrutiny is on some truly small inconsequential and also rather obvious point. Then there is questioning of things I KNOW With certaintly from my experince but there is complete lack of confidence in my ability and knowledge.
I mean I still recall a year ago an immigration question asked about a Canada deal. Now I went to law school in Buffalo NY on the Canadian border and have a specialty trac of study in immigration and international law with a number of courses in labor law. We had collaboration with a law school in Toronto and traveled back and forth one semester taking a couse that was taught at a Toronto Law school concurrent in which we collaborated with the students at the other school and delved into international labor issues as well as cross border labor issue.
So it was a little frustrating to watch a number of attorneys weigh in and get the issue they were being consulted on SO WRONG ( they really were just WRONG) in an area I actually have some experience and knowledge in.
It was so frustrating as there was this climate at the time with the attorney that weighed in of not respecting me and not viewing me as capable and ever trusting my judgement. So I watched the discussion and remained quiet. I then just kinda shared my knowledge to someone ELSE who might be able to articulate it and be heard.
I did eventually write an e-mail to the attorney who has no confidence in my abilty ( I knew better than to send anythign to the whole distro); as I just couldn't stand to watch them keep going and being so off track. But I never even got thank you or any response, but I tried to tactfully share my knowledge even though she does not trust that I have any.
Its driving me crazy. I get questioned on the most fundamental basic things and its solely a memory issue that I dont recall the BORING simple details of a contract. So I have to be better at WRITING NOTES to be able to recall the obvious as it is the basic simple almost OBVIOUS Things I won't recall.
So there is this view of me like I am just a not too bright contract manager that I think some have had.
But I look at the questioning as giving me "busy work" which is frankly a total waste of time and preventing me from actually being a truly productive team member that I could be if there was trust and confidence that when I do a job I REALLY am thorough and do it well.
So I need to take copious notes of the BORING, ROUTINE and OBVIOUS simple judgement calls I make when drafting as those are the ones being questioned.
So thanks for your help!