President, Young Lawyers Section
November 2013, President's Message
The third annual Statewide Swearing-in Ceremony is in the books, and was a success. 16 new attorneys were in attendance and were sworn-in by Chief Justice Gilbertson. Please join me in welcoming the newest members of our State Bar: AJ Franken, Roxanne Hammond, Christopher Healy, Jared Tedemann, Patrick Weber, Dillon Karras, Elizabeth Ebert, Joseph Cooch, Daniel Nelson, Nate Nelson, Marrissa Bunger, Seth Moen, Megan Brandriet, Kristi Jones, Michelle Faw, and Peter Kronemeyer. There are other new members as well, who could not attend the ceremony in Pierre, and I would also like to welcome them. As President Hofer shared with the new admittees, this is a big deal. So congratulations, and welcome!
We are getting closer to Thanksgiving, and the rush of the Christmas holiday season. This year, Macy's announced that it would open on Thanksgiving Day. Once Macy's announced it would be open, all of the other department stores decided they should be open as well. Now the mall in Rapid City is officially opening at 8:00 on Thanksgiving evening, and so therefore, all of the food court, and other stores got notice that they must also be open. Are the deals really that good??
It seems to me that there is something fundamentally wrong with spending Thanksgiving evening standing in line, waiting to buy something with a bunch of other people who are frankly, anything but thankful! Don't get me wrong, I don't see anything wrong with waking up at 3:00 in the morning the day after Thanksgiving to do just that, but can't we have one day that is not consumed with commercialism? Isn't it ironic that on the one day of the year designated for time to be thankful for what we have, we are busy planning, or shopping, for more? I would suggest that people should spend time each day to think about how fortunate we are and for what we have, but at the very least, this should be done on Thanksgiving of all days. Plus, isn't there still football going on at that time? :-)
My point is this, I see lawyers doing the same thing that Macy's has done, all the time. They come in and work on the weekends – every weekend; they work on all the holidays that aren't "major", even though their kids are home from school. They do not take more than a day or two off at a time, because the piles will be so big when they get back they simply can't leave for longer than two days. They come in when they are sick (and get the rest of the office sick). Does any of this sound familiar?
Close to two years ago now, I started working for First Interstate Bank as a Trust Specialist. The bank has a policy that every employee must take five consecutive days off in a calendar year. At first, especially coming from a law firm, I thought this was very strange. But honestly, it takes a day or two to decompress, and actually start to feel less stress and enjoy your time away. My opinion has changed and I now think this is a great policy. Sometimes, getting away from what you are doing, and what you are stressing about, is the best way to be better at what you do. You re-energize yourself, refocus, and sometimes come up with solutions you would not have at the office.
As you have all heard many times before, living life as a lawyer is all about balance. Finding a way to balance our professional and personal lives is not easy. But please, take some time for you. You will be a better lawyer, and a better person for it. As for me, my five consecutive days off are over the week of Christmas, and no, you will not find me at the mall! :-)
Kirsten M. Taggart
SD YLS President
Mentorship Application | Mentee Application
Bylaws of Young Lawyers
Top 5 Common Misconceptions About the
Hagemann-Morris Young Lawyer Mentorship Coin Program
5. As a mentor I will have to teach a young lawyer how to practice law.
This is a very narrow view of the mentorship program, and not at all an accurate description of the program. While it may be true that some young lawyers will need practical help, and may have practice questions, mentoring is truly so much more than just that. Young lawyers need to learn about civility, how we as a small bar interact with one another, how to balance work and life, how to bill, how to handle staff, or partners, or possible career changes, how to be an active member of the Bar, and their communities. Mentoring a young lawyer can take on many forms, and may include walking beside someone and helping them learn the practice of law. But really, it is helping them learn to live life as a lawyer.
4. I am a young lawyer and don't know exactly what practice area I want to be in, or I don't have a job yet, so I don't need a mentor.
Honestly, this is probably the time you need a mentor the most! While job searching, who better to help you market and network, than an already established attorney? Who better to give you feedback on resumes, interviewing, follow-up, etc., than someone who has been there and probably hired a few attorneys in their time? And if you're not sure which area you want to practice in, most South Dakota attorneys are general practitioners, and will be able to expose you to, and give you practical advice about, most areas of the law.
3. If I get a mentor/mentee that I don't get along with I will be stuck with them forever.
Everyone is different, and sometimes their expectations are different. If there ever comes a time when the mentee or the mentor does not feel that the relationship is beneficial any longer, that person can contact the Young Lawyers Board and we will find a new mentor/mentee for you. You absolutely will not be stuck, and you won't even have to send the Dear John letter!
2. I mentor young associates in my firm, so I don't need to mentor anyone else.
Some young lawyers are fortunate enough to end up in a firm large enough where they may have many mentors within that firm. But if you refer back to No. 5, and see that the scope of the program is so much larger than just the nuts and bolts of practicing law, you will realize your experience is invaluable to young lawyers outside your firm. I have heard grumblings that civility, or rather lack thereof, is becoming a huge problem in our Bar. If you have ever thought that someone needed to teach a young lawyer something about civility, you are right. And that someone might just be you. There are many young lawyers who are not fortunate enough to have mentors within their firms, or they might be solo practitioners. We are all South Dakota lawyers, so I would encourage you to look outside your firm's four walls.
1. I have a mentor in my firm, so I don't need another one.
First, mentors within your firm are invaluable, so please take advantage of everything they have to offer. Having a mentor outside your firm does not mean that you do not appreciate the mentorship you have within your firm. But, what if you are a mom and no one in your firm has kids, or what if you are a single guy and everyone in your firm is married with kids? Who do you talk to about the issues you face, that no one else is dealing with? Or who do you talk to when you have a question about your partnership track, or your salary, or your bonus, or a conflict within the firm? If you have a problem with depression or alcohol, are you more likely to talk to your mentor first, or a partner in your firm? It is invaluable to have someone that you trust, who only has your best interest in mind that you can talk to in confidence.
I hope that these five misconceptions have been cleared up and that there is a better understanding of the Hagemann-Morris Young Lawyer Mentorship Coin Program. If any of these misconceptions have been holding you back from applying as a mentor or a mentee, I would encourage you to fill out the application and submit it today!