J. Nick Augustine J.D. is the principal of ALR/PRA, Inc., a full service law practice management agency. Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition in public relations and marketing. Nick also shares recruiting and staffing experience and tips for legal job seekers.
Attorneys in transition attract more clients and positive contacts when they are sensitive to diversity. This holiday season we should shed our presumptions and ask people what, if anything, they celebrate during the holiday season. Something I have learned working in international public relations is that you should never make assumptions based on stereotypes. This also applies to attorneys in transition who miss opportunities if they limit their networks.
Diversity in the legal community has given rise to the establishments of bar associations and groups of individuals networking to share ideas with like-minded or cultural colleagues. I was recently invited to The Advocate (Polish Bar Association) Holiday Meeting. At the ISBA Midwinter Meeting Reception my friend invited me to attend the event and I was intrigued by the newsletter she e-mailed me containing information about the efforts within their bar association.
Here in Chicago we have so many cultural and ethnic neighborhoods and groups. Being a friendly contact to one may be a bridge to others for referral and other business related benefits. Now, I am not Polish, nor do I live in Jefferson Park; actually, I am Irish/Austrian/German and live in Lincoln Square – based on my professional experiences, ethnic and cultural bar associations are very open to share their groups with new members and guests.
As you embrace and become aware of different groups of people, be mindful to be neutral and friendly. Working as a moderator for a diversity committee, I recently discussed stereotypes with a psychiatrist. I learned about “micro-aggressions” which are the subtle, yet easily offensive, gestures and comments people make about others with whom they are not yet well acquainted. Avoid micro-aggressions and presumptuous statements and actions when meeting new groups. I am often surprised that what I had presumed was far from reality; don’t put yourself in a situation where you need to be corrected.
You can put this all into practice quite easily by remembering a key mantra: “Don’t assume anything.” When we put our assumptions about people aside we are able to learn about the actual person, not their religion, choice of food or dress, and so on. The global legal community is growing more diverse and it is in an attorney in transition’s best interests to not be closed off to valuable contacts and business sources based on diversity thoughts and judgments.
This holiday season, be good to your family and friends and remember that we are all in transition at several points in our lives whether that transition be work or personal. Happy Holidays!