Always do what you can, collaborate and prioritize diversity

During my clerkship at the Supreme Court of the State of Hawai`i, I learned the local motto, “If can, can. If no can, no can.” These words—although simple and playful—have become an adage that I’ve weaved into my life ever since. They serve as a daily reminder that while I’m going to try my hardest in everything I do, there are some things that are out of my control and I have to be flexible. That philosophy has guided me in my efforts to build a rewarding, yet sustainable career.

The value of collaboration with others has also been an important lesson that has helped me in my career. During my clerkship, and as an associate at my former firm as well as at Cohen Ziffer Frenchman & McKenna, I have learned firsthand that practicing law is a team sport. The greatest results are produced when attorneys work closely with one another and their clients. Recognizing that we all have different strengths and weaknesses while learning how to complement each other is what creates a well-functioning team. This understanding also creates success in the workplace in other ways. By establishing a supportive environment where team members feel invested, creativity thrives, and out-of-the-box ideas are cultivated.

Diversity is crucial to a team’s success as well. I’ve seen this in the legal industry—when I’m working with a team of diverse lawyers, we each have a unique perspective to bring to the table, which leads to variety in the solutions and guidance we offer to our clients. While racial and gender bias unfortunately still exist, it’s been gratifying to see companies and law firms prioritize DEI initiatives, whether it is in their hiring practices, leadership roles, or providing opportunities for firsthand experiences to diverse individuals.

On a personal level, I have been fortunate to have been given the opportunity to develop such experience, even at an early stage in my career. As an insurance recovery attorney, I represent policyholders in their most critical coverage disputes. I was drawn to this work because it allows me to specialize in a practice area that is an essential part of our daily lives. In this role, and throughout my legal career, I have been able to gain valuable insight and expertise from mentors who have instilled in me the importance of a collaborative, collegial workplace where each person is a critical member of the team. It is this mindset—and the reminder of my favorite motto—that I hope to pay forward as I continue along in my career.