The Pandemic Helped Me Rediscover the Importance of Connection
The COVID-19 pandemic radically changed almost every facet of our lives throughout the past year. In March 2020, our offices at Jones Walker quickly transitioned to a work-from-home model, and although my tasks as an attorney were not drastically different, my day-today routines, and those of my colleagues, were.
I started to experience more and more crossover between my professional and personal lives—working in a makeshift home “office” and holding virtual conversations with family, friends, and colleagues. Cell phones became the preferred method of communication, and the boundary between work and home became nonexistent. There were no longer “normal business hours,” and it was not long before the “new normal” included making and receiving work calls at all hours, seven days a week.
I knew that other attorneys and staff were likely experiencing this, too, and I wanted to make sure I struck a happy balance by respecting the boundaries of work and rest hours, as well as maintaining open lines of communication during a very unpredictable time. This prompted me to reflect on my communication style as a mentor to young attorneys and as a leader within the firm.
I started calling my fellow partners, associates, and staff members with whom I work regularly—during traditional business hours—just to “check in” to foster a sense of togetherness and community. This enabled everyone to obtain a better understanding of what was and was not working for others, and everyone became very comfortable communicating openly about the challenges we were facing. I also made sure that the mentoring and development of our next generation of leaders remained a top priority.
I work with an extraordinary group of people, and throughout the past year, I have seen an incredible level of dedication to our legal work and to deepening our working relationships firm-wide, despite most of our meetings and activities being virtual.
Among the many life lessons the pandemic has provided me, I have rediscovered the importance of meaningful connections that we must have with our families, friends, coworkers, and beyond. Lawyers often have the reputation of putting their heads down and working tirelessly, but we cannot lose sight of the people around us. Through demonstrating a thoughtful and supportive leadership style, and fostering working relationships with open communication, we can produce better work and lead happier lives, even amid a pandemic.