Thirty years ago tomorrow, May 1st, I opened my law practice. Of course, I was a precocious 9 year old at the time.
Prior to the opening I was an Associate of a Manhattan based law firm which also had offices in Paris, Brussels, and Rockville. I remember dreaming of “April in Paris.” Instead, the firm sent me to La Plata which is not quite the same. C‘est la vie.
In early 1990 the firm decided to close its Maryland office but it offered a position in the “Big Apple.” I considered the attractive offer but if ever I was going have my own practice that was the time to do so. My family owned a small office building but it was fully leased and would remain so for another three years. Though the law firm was closing its Maryland offices, the clients belonged to the firm and would follow it back to New York. No office and no clients. What was a girl to do? “Go for it!”
I shared my conundrum with a friend and real estate attorney, Marc Malakoff. Thanks to Marc I was able to open my law practice less than 30 days after Fink, Weinberger, Fredman, Berman, Lowell & Fensterheim closed its Maryland offices. (I still have my windbreaker.)
Quite a number of clients & client families from the earliest days continue to be part of my “extended” family. Thank you for your continued confidence and trust. Thank you for sharing your dreams, fears, experiences, and life lessons with me. Thank you for the wonderful relationships we have established.
How many people have been with 3, 4, and even 5 generations of the same family? How many people have attended the retirement party for a then 92 year old client and the next day attended the Bar Mitzvah for the son of clients. How many people can write or say they have represented clients who ranged in age from 106 years old to 6 months old?
Within the last decade I lost both of my parents. My dad passed suddenly and my mom passed after a long battle. When clients pass there are certain lessons I share with client families beyond what needs to be done at the time. Many clients knew, or knew about, my parents especially since my practice was located in a family owned building for 13 years. After my dad passed I sent an email about what had happened. Frankly, I did not want to answer the question x times a year for y years about how my dad was doing; I now know that there is a huge difference between being an estate attorney and being a daughter.
Following the email about my dad’s passing, and later the one about my mom, clients reached out to me. They remembered my lessons and they wanted to remind me of them. Wow! I don’t mind revealing that I am tearing up as I write this. To know I helped some people and they wanted to help me in my times of need is truly amazing.
Though I was a history/political science double major in college and continue to read and learn about history, it is time examine the present and consider the future.
In 2018 I wrote about Thomas Friedman’s book “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving In the Age of Accelerations.” Our lives are being transformed at every increasing rates by three forces which are accelerating at once and impacting one another: Moore’s Law (technology), the Market (globalization), and Mother Nature (climate change, biodiversity loss and population growth).
“Thank You for Being Late” shows how the dramatic accelerations of Moore’s Law, the Market & Mother Nature interact and how we try to cope with them. Mr. Friedman concludes that individuals, entities, and nations must be innovative, must be quick to adapt, must be prepared to help the casualties of change, and must be slow. Yes, slow meaning adept at shutting out the noise and accessing their deepest values.
Over the past few weeks we have experienced sudden and dramatic change. This is a period like none other. It is important to stay calm, shut out the noise, be innovative, and be quick to adapt. Already I have witnessed or learned of many acts of kindness and of people examining what is truly important to them and their legacies. We will not only survive, we will thrive.
Mr. Friedman wrote about dancing in a hurricane. After considering this & current circumstances, I would like to share one of my favorite quotes which is by William W. Purkey:
“Dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody’s listening,
Live like it’s heaven on earth.”
May you & your loved ones superbly dance, love, sing & thrive!
Lena S. Barnett
Attorney & Counsellor at Law