Paternity-Leave Stigma

Paternity leave remains the unicorn of parental leave. Although recent statistics show that nine out of ten U.S. fathers took some time off work for the birth or adoption of a child, those same statistics showed that seventy percent of fathers take ten days of leave or less. Although paternity leave participation is increasing, its duration is short and largely unpaid. The American Lawyer recently published an article on the slow shift regarding paternity leave. It's worth checking out, just click the link below: Paternity-Leave Stigma at Law Firms Lifting, Ever So Slowly

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Making and Keeping Friends – Even When You Have a Busy Job

Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.” Friendships are vital for well-being, but they take time to develop and maintain. In the whirlwind of life that takes over when you begin and continue practicing law, it is often hard to prioritize making (and keeping) friendships. However, as Aristotle noted, friends are a sure refuge. As an attorney, friendships can also hold the dual role of friend and client. As for maintaining friendships that you have already made, below are a few tips for fostering and growing the friendships that you already have: For friends that live in different cities, or even friends that live in the same city as you but that you can…

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Finding the Good Inside (Especially When It’s Hard)

Coming off a hot, sometimes angry summer - and following an election season that could be charitably described as "testy" - it's a good time to ponder compassion and empathy and how we can maximize both in ourselves and the world around us. True, there are some things people will never agree on.  But even the knottiest problems are easier to address when the opposing sides are respectful and kind to each other. And, at the individual level, how much better would your day be if you were able to deflect the world's slights, from the aggressive driver who nearly clipped you or the cashier who was rude to you, all the way to the co-worker who stole credit for your work or the bully who made your son afraid to go back to school? True, some slights (like those last two) can't be ignored, but when your reaction is…

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The Dangers of Yes

Finding the right work/life balance is difficult.  For the third year in a row, September kicked off soccer season in my house.  In the fall, I am affectionately known as “Coach Daddy” in my house.  This year, I assumed the role of head coach for a 2nd grade team and a Pre-K team.  My coaching strategy is consistency.  I deliver the same message to each practice and every game: “Kick the ball that way” while pointing to what I believe is the correct goal.  I don’t know what constitutes offsides.  I don’t know soccer positions except for goalie.  (As an aside, this knowledge is useless because we don’t use a goalie in my kids’ league.  I’m told that’s what they do in European youth soccer.)  I played soccer exactly one season growing up and my only memories from that season are, in no particular order (1) a bee sting to…

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A City Attorney on Life and Lawyering

Before I expound on a few words of wisdom about work, kids, marriage, life in general, let me provide a short introduction. A little context will hopefully help you understand where the thoughts expressed below are coming from. I am a lawyer - no surprise there. I have been a licensed attorney for almost eight years. I started my career at a small plaintiffs firm in Houston, but for the past four years, I have been working in municipal law. I am currently the City Attorney for the City of Temple and have been in this position for a little over a year. If you have ever driven on Interstate 35 from Dallas to Austin or vice versa, you have driven through Temple. It is home to Baylor Scott & White Hospital, McLane Company, and one of the newest Buc-ee's in Texas. It is a rapidly growing city with a…

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Leading Ladies: Judge Maria A. Salas-Mendoza

What an honor and a privilege to hear from leaders in our profession on the topic of Diversity.  This week, TYLA Director Raymond Baeza interviewed the Honorable Maria A. Salas-Mendoza, Judge for the 120th Judicial District Court of Texas. Thank you Judge Salas-Mendoza for contributing this week. * Why is diversity important in the legal profession? Diversity is very important in the legal profession because there is greater lack of information about the legal system, lack of trust in lawyers and the system and lack of time and resources among diverse populations, including racial and ethnic minorities and poor people.  Our system is even more intimidating when these individuals cannot find anyone within the system that even looks like them or is empathetic to their unique circumstances. There are many barriers to access and not having diversity in prospective lawyers and the bench only heightens distrust among people who most…

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Keeping Stress in Check with Hobbies and Extracurricular Activities

It is easy to allow work to stress you out. Stress often manifests itself when burning the midnight oil; keeping clients and colleagues happy; and tackling other projects. As enjoyable as work may be, sometimes it’s nice to get away from the office and spend time with family and friends. With that said, I know I stress even more when sitting around the house. To deal with that stress and hopefully prevent it before it arises, I try to find activities that keep me busy outside of work.   When it comes to such extracurriculars, I find that I enjoy maintaining a diversity in activities. For instance, I really enjoy exercise. Check out my earlier Lawyers Who Lunch article, “Finding Time for Fitness,” from August 19, 2015. Fitness is critical to a healthy lifestyle and alleviating stress. Over the years, my fitness activities have changed. When I was in high…

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It’s beginning to look a lot like…holiday party season

Texas is home to some fabulous holiday parties. Here are a few tips and pointers before attending your next holiday party: Stay classy, my friend – Stay consistent with the recommended attire, but don’t be afraid to dress it up a little. It’s better to overdress than underdress. This is another opportunity to make a good impression and show sound judgment. Smooth operator – Prior to the event, refresh yourself on co-workers’ significant others’ and children’s names. You may not have seen many of these people since summer clerk events, and it will make conversations much less awkward if you remember their names. Plus, it’s an easy conversation starter for people to talk about who they love. Don’t forget to choose your date wisely; they are a reflection of you. Can you hear me now? - Put your phone away. Be present and engaging. You’re killing me, Smalls - Catch…

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Babies, Bio-Clocks, and the Billable Hour.

Talk about a phrase that can send this young lawyer into a bit of a panic.  I mean, is there a series of words that is more panic inducing than those for young female lawyers??   Sure, I don’t have kids yet.  But that’s exactly what all the panic is all about. My mommy lawyer friends are well-settled into a life where kids and family are obviously the most important thing, even when work remains an important priority. Life has got to be hard, balancing all of those actual real-life demands. No question.  But what if all those things are still hypothetical…you are just starting a family, or want to, and you’ve got two clocks ticking loudly in the background—the one that says your running out of time!! And the one that says you better bill some time or watch your professional trajectory stall out just when it’s getting good!…

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Finding Time for Fitness

As attorneys, we are busy: busy working; busy spending time with our families; busy serving others; and busy making friends. Unfortunately for us, we often overlook caring for ourselves. When we forget, a host of problems arise: depression, undesired weight gain, and loss of energy to name a few. As for undesired weight gain, it’s understandable that when expected to put everyone else first, we as attorneys might forget to feed ourselves nutritious meals or take time to workout. If that weren’t enough, we spend the majority of our time sitting at desks, where the only thing we exercise is bad posture. I propose we take time for ourselves, time to exercise. Exercise combats health conditions and diseases Exercise improves mood Exercise boosts energy Exercise promotes better sleep Exercise improves your sex life Exercise is fun Exercise boosts brainpower Exercise helps build relationships Exercise lets you eat more You probably…

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