Friday, July 20, 2012

Partners in Life and in Law

Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to really make a difference.

I have been working at firms since I graduated law school. Working for someone else. Building someone else's business for them. Having someone else breathing down your neck, checking on your work everyday. Not being able to submit briefs under your own name.

My husband has been a solo-practitioner for the same amount of time.  He has been working for himself since we graduated law school and doing a great job!  

We decided when we were in law school that we worked well together and that we should start our own firm someday. We had plans to call it, McDowell & McDowell.

Looking back, I was just too scared to step out of my comfort zone and take a leap of faith to do it right out of school like my courageous husband did. God knew that.  He placed me in firms where I could get comfortable learning the law under someone else's name.  I don't know if you can really call what I did a leap of faith since God had to almost force me out of a firm recently in order for me to start working with my husband.

But he prepared me for the big day weeks before it happened and by the time it happened, I was ready.  I was actually excited.  After I signed my resignation letter, I smiled all the way to my car.  I had faith that I was doing what God wanted me to do, and I no longer had any fear about the future.

The minute I quit my firm and became partners with my husband, something happened that I did not anticipate.  I felt like a heavy burden was lifted from my shoulders.  My husband told me that I looked less stressed and happier instantly. He said he knew exactly what happened when I walked into his office at 3:30pm smiling from ear to ear. My new office building owner told me that same day that I "looked younger." That was I how I felt.  Younger.  Less Stressed. Happier.

If I would have just listened to my husband and God sooner and not given into my fears, I could have avoided two years worth of stress and years worth of aging.

Now it's time ... time to step out of my comfort zone... time to listen to God... and time to make a difference!!   Get ready for McDowell & McDowell, LLC!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Network Like A Girl

As a professional, and an attorney, I am involved in several organizations.  Each organization has events, committees and other activities to get involved with.  When you get involved, you typically want to get something out of it, right?  Networking is usually that something. 

Webster's Dictionary reports that networking means the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.  So networking is simply put, building relationships.

So why is it that so many professional women have a hard time networking if it is just building relationships?  Women typically have tons of relationships and close friends don't they? 

The first problem is that women sometimes give off the wrong impression when they are talking to members of the opposite sex.  Times have not changed that much as the majority of professionals, at least the majority of attorneys, are still male.  Males tend to associate a female trying to build a relationship with them as flirting and that they want to do more than just "network." 

In order for a woman to make sure her gestures of professional development are not coming off as flirtatious, sometimes the scales tip too much to the other side and she may instead come off too harsh or aggressive.

This brings us to the second problem women have with networking.  When women are networking, they may come off as aggressive when they know what they want and take steps to get it.   Similarly, a woman asking for a pay raise is going to come off more aggressive than a man asking for a pay raise. It is expected of a man to negotiate his salary, but if a woman does it, it seems like she is doing something wrong. Therefore, most women do not negotiate salaries and even less go to the boss and ASK for a pay raise. This is the sole reason men get paid more than women, because women do not ASK.

If a woman does ask for a pay raise, she can come off as demanding and overpowering. This is similar to a woman approaching a male professional at a social event. She either has to be serious and talk about work or not serious and come off as flirty.  Women who are serious all the time are not always liked by everyone and usually do not get a chance to get to know the males in the office because all they talk about is work and all they do when they are at the office is work. The women who are not serious all the time and spend time around the water cooler at work chatting with co-workers, feel like they are not always taken seriously and have a hard time succeeding in their profession. So women find themselves in a catch 22. 
It comes down to the fact that women have to strike a balance when talking with the opposite sex as a professional. They should not come off too harsh but also not come off too flirty. 
Here are some helpful tips from what I have found works.
(1) if you are married or have a significant other, talk about him.  When the male professional knows how much you love your spouse or significant other, they will most likely not think you are flirting with them. 
(2) Don't stand too close or touch the opposite sex. This may give them the wrong idea and is really not appropriate in a professional relationship.
(3) Never go eat with an opposite sex professional without someone else there with you. Take your spouse, a co-worker, or a friend so that the male professional doesn't get the wrong idea. This is also good in case someone sees you out with the male professional and gets the wrong idea.  
(4) DO talk about something besides work. Learn something about sports, cars, or something male professionals are interested in. That way you will have something else to talk about and it will keep them interested.
(5) Always smile. This makes you seem friendly and not too serious all the time.
The more you get out there and talk to people, the more practice you will have with networking.  It seems the more people you know, the less it looks like you are flirting with everyone as well.  As a professional, it is good to network and meet others in your field or related fields. It's good for marketing yourself, to get more business or clients but it's also good to network for the sole benefit of making you a better you.   So go out there and Network like a Girl!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Logicism for Lawyers

President Obama mandated a new federal rule that requires faith-based employers to include birth control and other reproductive services in their health care coverage.  As most know, Catholics are opposed to contraception. In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, "Human Life"), which reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence. ( Roman Catholic leaders morally oppose artificial birth control and related services, and it was reported that they called the rule an infringement on their constitutional rights. 
But the question must be asked, hasn't Obama claimed to be Catholic? If in fact he is Catholic, wouldn't he be against contraception? And if in fact he was against contraception, would he mandate that birth control should be included in health care coverage? 

I know as a Christian, if an issue arose about pro-life or homosexuality, I could not help but vote for the Christian values in that situation because it is what shapes my thoughts and ideas. As such, wouldn't Obama's thoughts and ideas be shaped by Catholicism? 

In this situation, we do not see Obama's Catholic values coming out in his recent mandate. So logically, we would have to question Obama being Catholic since his thoughts and ideas do not exude Catholicism. After putting forth this rule, Obama doesn't seem very catholic does he? 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Christians Are Cool

We have lived at our new apartment now for almost a month. The parking is not great here. You can either park in the front of the building or the back of the building.  The back is kind of scary so we choose to park in the front. The problem with the front is that there is a water hydrant intruding on the availability. Apparently, by law, you can not park within 15 feet in either direction from the water hydrant. 30 feet is a large area that significantly limits the parking area. We have already received one parking ticket for not being 15 feet away even though the measurement was questionable. 

A walkway to the next door apartment is located 15 feet up from the hydrant. We have parked there several times. A "neighbor" from that building recently placed a note on our car  stating that it was "rude and inconsiderate" to park in front of a walkway.. oh and then added, "Have a Blessed Day" signed "Joy."  Today we received another note from Joy stating, "what did you not understand about rude and inconsiderate."  No blessing was given this time.  Another note was also found under the windshield at the same time as Joys, written on a receipt from KMART with a customer name located at the top.  This note stated that they have a handicapped mother and need to use the sidewalk. Of course the note did not fail to say how rude we were for parking there.   After looking up the name on the receipt, I found that the only person in Kansas City with that name is a child sex offender.... great!!  

As keepers of the law, my husband and I know there is not a rule with our apartment complex for not parking in front of a sidewalk. We also understand that when you are handicapped, you should probably use the handicapped parking space located in the parking lot behind the building instead of in front of the building on the street, which is actually further away from the building.   

We actually went over and knocked on the doors in the buidling to find out who Joy was and to tell them to stop touching our car to place notes on it and that there is NOT a rule saying we cannot park in front of a sidewalk. No one answered.  Joy was probably at church.


(1) It is interesting that Christians, as I assume Joy is since she said "have a blessed day," can be so judgmental and rude to others when they are suppose to be spreading the Gospel. 

(2) You never know who is living right next to you... and a school a block away...illegally until they stupidly place a note on your car. A note written on the back of a receipt with someones personal information on your it.  Of course I am going to turn them in.    

(3) You should probably go sit, have some coffee, and cool off before you decide to go knock on doors and assert your opinions to assumable sex offenders in your area. After having some coffee, we decided it was probably more Christian-like to not go over there because we probably would have gotten into a screaming match with the people. This would be no better than what Joy did in the first place by calling someone rude and inconsiderate and then telling them to have a blessed day. By going over to assert our side, we probably would not be  spreading the gospel and in turn, we would end up doing the same thing they did with us to begin with.  After cooling off, we decided to go to the management to lodge complaints about the people leaving the notes on our car.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Change is good. That's what I keep telling myself.

I was recently asked to join another firm in the Kansas City area. After careful deliberation, my husband and I decided that I should accept the offer as we believe it will be better for our future. But leaving the firm that I am currently working at is hard for many reasons. After being there a year, I have gotten to know some really good people. But when you are leaving a job, it almost feels like you are breaking off a relationship. You feel like after seeing these people almost everyday for a year, you are never going to see them again or at least it won't be the way it use to be. But it's not suppose to be the way it use to be or change would not have occured.

The only thing that is certain in this world is change. Yet change is very scary for most people. You get comfortable in your daily routine and feel like you know what's going on. When we feel safe, we think, why change?  Only to feel awkward and scared for what is going to happen next?  To not know what we're doing and have to figure things out all over again? But in order to progress in life and make a difference, you have to step out of your comfort zone and embrace change. You have to move forward and be courageous. You have to change.

So that's what I did. I changed.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Swift Justice??

I just started my first attorney job and have been working just over one week. It's tough being away from my husband since we have been together about 24 hours a day for about the last 3 years. But he's staying busy too and we still find time to spend together.

I find myself constantly talking about work when I get home. Partly because I'm excited about what I'm doing and partly because I want him to experience it with me. I usually tell him "hypos" about clients I encounter at work.

Today, a man had to come in to a hearing for his wife, the disability claimant, who passed away last week, 2 days before Thanksgiving. The judge wanted to hurry up with the hearing even though the poor husband was mourning the death of his beloved wife. I felt extremely sad for this man, especially while he was holding open his wallet to find his drivers license and his wife's picture was on display, the man's hand trembling.

The judge could have continued the hearing until a later date in order to give the man time to mourn and time to ... whatever you do when your other half... your partner... your friend... leaves this earth and you behind. But she didn't!

Our firm decided it was inappropriate to call the man and have him come in just days after his wife died. The judge didn't!

In fact, she pretty much accused the firm of malpractice because we didn't want to have the poor man come in while he was mourning.

Sometimes, even judges and lawyers lose touch with reality and get numb to specific circumstances surrounding people's lives.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Degree or No Degree... That is the Question

Is it justice... for graduates from highly accredited schools and universities with degrees ranging from Masters in Business to Juris Doctorates with extremely impressive resumes, to be out of work, living with parents, and about to get their automobiles repossessed from unpaid bills??

Some people who did not even finish their undergraduate degrees but who have gone into business at a young age, have more money then they know what to do with?

For instance, Tim Guenther, my cousin, owns a business that is a multi-million dollar business. It's called "Clickstop". He only graduated with his Associates degree. He is now on the "40 under 40 list". 

Michael Dell, the founder and CEO of Dell, Inc., dropped out of college at 19. He first started his computer company in his college dorm room, later using company’s earnings and family loans to expand. In 2008, Forbes ranked Michael Dell #11 in its 400 Richest Americans. As of 2009, he has an estimated net worth of $12.3 billion. 

Bill Gates, a college dropout, has been named the richest person in the world by Forbes magazine 27 times. 

Rachel Ray hasn’t had any formal culinary training, including college, but has several cooking shows on the Food Network, a talk show on NBC, several New York Times bestselling cookbooks, and her own magazine. I'm not even a cooking expert and I know who she is.

Are college degrees really needed in today's world? It seems like an undergraduate degree is a dime a dozen now days. But in some cases, it seems like people would not have made it to where they were going without their degree. 

My 3rd Cousin, Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, graduated from the University of Missouri with a B.A. in Economics. He joined JC Penney as a mangement trainee after graduating from college. Walton then joined the military in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps, supervising security at aircraft plants and prisoner of war cams, eventually reaching the the rank of Captain. After leaving the military, with the help of a loan from my great grandmother, he purchased a Ben Franklin variety store. The first true Wal mart store came from this Ben Franklin store in 1962. 

A lot of other famous people have college degrees:  

Conan O'Brien, after earning the valedictorian title at Brookline High School, went on to Harvard where he studied history and literature. In 1985 he graduated magna cum laude. 

Oprah Winfrey studied communications at Tennessee State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Speech and Drama. 
Martin Luther King, Jr. began his college career early, enrolling in Morehouse College at age 15. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, he earned a Bachelor of Divinity Degree from Crozer Theological Seminary. King later completed his doctorate education at Boston University, studying systematic theology.
My husband and I both have Juris Doctorate degrees and are looking for work. He also has an M.B.A.   We seem to be very marketable but since there are not a lot of jobs available, we are still out of work. 

With all of these facts, I would still rather have a Juris Doctorate degree than not. Even without having a job, having degrees still makes people feel better about themselves and it makes them more marketable even in a bad economy.