Friday, October 29, 2010

“It's Time to be an Architect of Change”

By Amy Guldner

While attending the very inspirational “Main Event” of the annual Governor and First Lady’s Women’s Conference this week, I couldn’t help but reflect on how well the conference’s theme describes Montage Legal Group. “It’s Time To Be An Architect of Change” was the mantra heard by 14,000 attendees, and all of the speeches and break-out sessions were focused on ways that we can be architects of change in our own lives.

According to Maria Shriver, “An architect of change is someone who sees a problem and seeks a solution.” Since its inception, Montage Legal Group has been that architect. Law firms today are being faced with challenges that will end their existence if not properly addressed, and they aren’t the only ones crying out for change. Overworked, incredibly stressed out attorneys trying to bill 2000 hours per year, develop business, be involved in their community and simultaneously have a life outside work(whether it be with their spouses/partners, children, aging parents, hobbies, interests, etc.) are shedding their share of tears as well. MLG offers a solution for both.

For law firms and solo practitioners, MLG provides experienced attorneys who can jump in on a moment’s notice to assist with an overflow of work when it’s not in the firm’s best interest to bring on more employees. For attorneys, MLG provides the opportunity to scale back and better control their workload while hopefully freeing up more time to spend with families and outside interests.

MLG attorneys are showing by example an alternative to traditional law firm life. Granted, it is not easy to walk away from a steady law firm paycheck, but as one of the conference panelists noted, we sometimes make a choice between happiness and security/success, only to find out how wrong we were about what it means to be successful.

Maria Shriver talked about some of the difficulties she faced when she gave up her “working mother” identity to be First Lady, noting that, when there is no definition for a role, we are challenged to define it for ourselves and figure out what’s truly important. Each MLG attorney truly defines for herself what her role is, and in so doing, each of us are learning what’s most important to us. We are gradually learning, as Maria Shriver encouraged the attendees to do, to realize that it’s enough to fill our own shoes and be comfortable in our own skin and with our own contradictions.

Maria Shriver ended her speech with a heartfelt and candid discussion of what she will do when her role as First Lady ends. Like Maria, MLG attorneys have been letting go of our plans and our need for certainty, opening our hearts and minds to the unknown, and starting on a journey that forges stronger, wiser and more confident selves with the courage to live our own lives.

The conference was packed with a very impressive list of speakers and panelists representing more than 150 of the world’s greatest voices, hearts and minds, but as a woman attorney myself, I was particularly delighted to see and hear Diane Sawyer talk with Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Both gave the audience a taste of their wit and sense of humor they’ve held on to despite the recent battles and losses in their own personal lives. I realize just how far women lawyers have come when Sandra Day O’Connor shares that, despite graduating in the top 3 of her class from Stanford Law School, she was unable to find a paying job because law firms did not hire women lawyers. And I love this quote Ruth Bader Ginsberg provided: “Leave tracks. Just as others have been way-pavers for your good fortune, so you should aid those who will follow in your way."

I am so proud to be affiliated with Montage Legal Group - an empowering architect of change paving the way for the future.

Click here to watch 2010 Videos from the Women's Conference.

Amy Leinen Guldner joined Montage Legal Group in January, 2010 after practicing for over thirteen years at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP and Snell & Wilmer LLP.  In addition to her legal work and caring for her two young children, Amy is a volunteer Court-Appointed Special Advocate with CASA of Orange County, mentoring and advocating in court on behalf of abused and neglected children. She also volunteers with the Constitutional Rights Foundation’s High School Mock Trial tournaments.

Friday, October 22, 2010

So You Want to Go to Law School Video

Most of you probably already saw this YouTube video on Legal Blog Watch or Above the Law, but for those of you who haven't seen the hilarious animated video "So You Want to Go to Law School," we posted it here for you.  It was first posted on Wahoo Corner by dwkazzie, David Kazzie.  David now has a new book out called The Jackpot which you can find here: The Jackpot -  Enjoy!

Click here to watch the video: So You Want to Go to Law School.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Montage Legal Group and the "Work Life Balance Project"

One of our owners and founders of Montage Legal Group, Laurie Rowen, was selected by Women Lawyers OnLine to be part of an interview series called “The Work Life Balance Project.” Several women lawyers were interviewed to share their views on balancing work and life, struggles they have faced in their attempt to create success in their personal life and legal career, and tips to assist other women lawyers who may be facing the same challenges.

Laurie provided her insights on work life balance, and shared why Montage Legal Group has helped her in an ongoing struggle to balance her personal life and her life as a lawyer. Below are a few excerpts from the interview:

Kendra Brodin: What do you consider to be your biggest challenge or struggle in attempting to create this kind of success that we’ve been talking about in your personal and legal career? What’s been the hardest thing for you to accomplish?

Laurie Rowen: The profession of law is frequently based upon the amount of hours you bill. And so my biggest challenge, and I feel like a big challenge for a lot of women, is how can you reduce your workload and still meet the expectations of your law firms? There are only 24 hours in one day. After you meet your billable hours requirement, and you sleep for a little bit, there’s no time left over for personal life, family, husbands, and fun. For me, after starting Montage Legal Group, I find that there are significantly fewer challenges in balancing my personal life and career. I can choose the exact amount of legal work I want that particular week, based on time commitments, how finances are going, and other things that I have going on. It’s been working out really well and I feel like I’ve kind of met those challenges and I’m not struggling anymore as I used to be prior to starting my own legal group.


Kendra Brodin: What’s been your biggest lesson as you’ve moved along this journey in terms of creating your successful personal and professional life?

Laurie Rowen: I’ve learned that happiness is key. Many women let their jobs control them, as I used to do, and when you do that, you lose your life. You let life happen to you, instead of controlling your own life. You need to be the engineer of your life, and constantly evaluate and re-evaluate your commitments. Don’t feel like you need to stay in a job where you are unhappy just because there is outside pressures to stay on a traditional career path. For me, I looked up to the amazing female partners in my prior law firm and I initially had a very hard time dealing with the fact that being a partner was not the right solution for me. And I had to accept that while the profession needs women like them to stay in law firms and be female partners like we need, the legal professional also needs women like me. The right solution that works for you may not be obvious, but I learned that a legal career is absolutely possible to achieve and balance with a fulfilling personal life.
To listen to Laurie Rowen’s full 30 minute interview, please click on Laurie Rowen’s Interview.

Laurie Gormican Rowen graduated magna cum laude from UCLA and was admitted into Phi Beta Kappa. She attended University of San Diego School of Law, where she was an associate editor of the San Diego Law Review and served as President of the Student Bar Association. She obtained her Juris Doctor, cum laude, in 2004. Following law school, Laurie was an associate at Snell & Wilmer, LLP in Costa Mesa from 2004 to 2008. After having her first daughter, Laurie left Snell & Wilmer to co-found Montage Legal Group in early 2009.   In addition to her legal career, Laurie is the President of the Board of Directors of Women Helping Women, an Orange County non-profit charity with a mission to empower low-income individuals to attain economic self-sufficiency through employment success.