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Culture Wars

Full disclosure: I am neither a medical doctor, nor an employment expert, nor a trained space designer. But I am an as-yet unhacked
human being, who has both thoughts and emotions about "re-entering" the world, post-COVID.

Everybody (I hope) is familiar with the Guidance for Businesses and Employers Respecting the Coronavirus Disease 2019, published and regularly updated by the Center for Disease Control ("CDC"). We should all, of course, follow it's guidance.

That important point being made, there is obviously a lot more to dealing with the effects of the pandemic, than merely listening to medical wisdom. There are also many psychological aspects to returning to the workplace, and it's incumbent upon employers-- for purposes of this piece, I'm thinking specifically of law firm leaders-- to provide individuals with tools that can help them ease the complications of returning to the office.

Mindfulness and meditation are two such tools-- they're two really important components of well-being, which impact both mind and body. It's not complicated: Well people are better people, and better people make better decisions. And people who make better decisions are better lawyers-- better advocates for, and representatives of, their clients.

Prior to the pandemic, much was written and said about firm culture-- it was the one thing that really differentiated one form from another. Now that vaccines are more widely available and people are slowly resuming work habits that approximate prior work habits, there is a renewed interest among leaders of the legal profession, about culture.

My two cents? Look at opportunities to increase shared experience. Working as part of a team on a complex transaction or piece of litigation, has been the traditional response in most law firms. Perhaps, as we begin to interact directly with an expanding group of others, firms might consider the wisdom of encouraging people to simply sit with each other (masked, and socially distanced) in stillness and silence?

New times call for new initiatives-- especially, initiatives we can share. For all the attention that has traditionally been given to creating events or activities that people can do with each other, maybe we can now give a new priority to sharing something we can all "do", regardless of age, ethnicity or belief-- sitting in silence, and doing nothing.

Imagine a 30-something-year-old woman of color, sitting silently (masked, and socially distanced) next to a 60-something-year-old (fully vaccinated) white male.

That'd be one heck of a shared experience, and it would most definitely make a statement about firm culture!


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