Category Archives: Legal Careers

9 Signs You Should Quit Your Job Now

By:  John Rampton

It’s not uncommon for employees to have a bad day or two — or week. And it’s pretty common for the average person to gripe about a boss or co-worker from time to time. But how can you tell if it’s just “one of those days” or something more serious?

I’ve quit several jobs in my life. I left my first job in an epic way, tearing off my uniform and walking out of a bagel shop after a stupid dispute with a boss. I don’t really recommend walking out on a job, but everyone should know when to quit. While leaving a position can present an inconvenience to your personal life, it may be the best option for your long-term satisfaction.

At my very last job I recognized that I needed to quit when my desires to become an entrepreneur overpowered my wishes for a stable paycheck. Indeed many entrepreneurs realize over and over they should leave their job but the financial security it provides often Unhappykeeps them firmly entrenched. I understand this totally as I’ve been there. Save your money wisely so you can become the entrepreneur you want to be if that’s your dream.

Pay attention to the following nine signals. They can help guide you in gaining clarity about whether it’s time for you to quit your job and start your next adventure.

1. You’re bored and uninspired.

Remember when you first started working at your current job? Were you full of passion and excitement each morning? Even if that wasn’t so, taking this particular job may have seemed like a good decision once because of the pay, location or opportunity for advancement.

Now you’re showing up every morning feeling bored, uninspired, defeated and hopeless. I know the feeling well and have watched several people go through this. Consider if you really want to continue putting up with this job eight hours (or more) every Monday through Friday.

2. You keep promising yourself that you’ll quit.

Many people experience a day or two of feeling fed up and ready to quit that crummy old job once and for all. But take another look after a good night’s sleep and keep in mind that you may have just had an extremely stressful day.

I remember the three-month period when I promised myself day after day at my web-hosting company job that I was going to quit. That position became my very last job. While working there I had become increasingly interested in starting my own business. I was making more money outside work than I was on the job. So I took the leap.

Instead of promising to quit your job every day, start being proactive outside work in making yourself presentable to the next company you’d like to work for or start transforming yourself into who you want to become.

While it’s not always easy to leave a job, putting off a promise isn’t going to help your situation either.

3. You don’t fit in.

Hopefully you have an awesome job with a great paycheck. You probably tolerate fairly well most of your co-workers. But you just don’t belong at the company. Maybe you require more structure and your current employer is a bit too easygoing — or the opposite is true. Sometimes there might not really be anything wrong with the job itself but the company or the boss just doesn’t jibe with your morals, ethics or personality.

This is a tough situation because another job might not be any different. Think about what might happen if you reached out to your superior and tried to find a way to better fit into the current operation. If that’s not an option or you can’t find a different department or team that works better for you, it could be time to go.

Threatening Boss4. You don’t want the job your boss has.

One reason you’ve been staying put is that your current company promotes advancement. But what happens once you figure out you that don’t want a managerial job like the one your boss has? If you can’t stand the idea of being in your boss’s shoes, then probably you should think about getting out before your go-getter peers pass you by.

5. You don’t care for the products or services.

Forget the pay, position and all your great co-workers. If you can’t become invested in the products or services sold by your company, then how can you succeed by promoting them or working for the firm?

Remember, companies thrive on having employees who are brand advocates or ambassadors. It’s not fair to the company (or you) if you can’t get behind the products or services.

6. You have a horrible boss.

Sometimes all it takes is terrible manager to push you to the door. Why deal with someone who’s demanding, incompetent, miserable, selfish, immature or controlling every single day? Unless you’re certain that this boss is going to be leaving soon, perhaps you should begin searching for a new gig.

That being said, I’ve been that boss before and all it took was one employee to tell me some of the things I was doing wrong. I was able to change — and I still work with that same employee years later. This won’t always work out this way, though. Only you can be the judge of that.

7. You’re always underperforming.

Despite your capabilities, you find yourself consistently delivering less than the job demands because you lack passion for it. Then again, you might be underperforming because the job is too big or you can’t navigate the office politics. Regardless of the situation, it’s probably a good idea to think about looking for a different job if your performance isn’t up to par.

8. You’re stressed, anxious and unhappy.

Of course you’ll have those days when you wish you could just stay home and sleep in. But if that becomes a common occurrence, perhaps there’s an underlying problem. Work might not always be much fun, but if you’re becoming anxious, unhappy or stressed out just from thinking about work,, then do yourself a favor and get out while you can.

9. Your skills aren’t being tapped.

If you keep being passed over for high-profile projects or promotions, then clearly someone up top hasn’t realized how talented you are. Instead of wasting your potential at a place where your work isn’t acknowledged or respected, find somewhere else where you might thrive.

Rampton, John. “9 Signs You Should (Maybe) Quit Your Job Now.” Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur.com, 5 Sept. 2014. Web. 9 Sept. 2014.

LeBron James

Live Like a King

Just like any other sport, basketball is a game of strategy and decision-making. Because of his basketball skills, LeBron “King” James was the first pick in the 2003 NBA draft.  After joining the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron excelled, making history by becoming the first Cavalier to be named “Rookie of the Year” and then become an all-star.  Although LeBron was content with how his team was progressing and how they were improving, another opportunity arose in 2010.

LeBron had to take the time to decide where he wanted to be in the next five years.  Once this was decided, he had to plan and define a strategy that would land him where he wanted to be.  Ultimately, LeBron determined that the Miami Heat gave him more of what he needed to be great.

It is at the beginning of one’s career, as you gain experience, hard work and knowledge, that a person demonstrates their discipline and shows signs of becoming that superstar and it is during those early years that you excel.   However, it is through “reflection” and “introspection” that you determine who you want to become and what you want your career to be.  It is through that reflection process that you determine which stepping stones and opportunities you might pursue and which will lead you in the right direction.  If you are like LeBron you may be happy no matter what team you play on because you are doing what you enjoy.   However, you will never know about a more perfect opportunity unless you have the courage to investigate the possibilities.

In 2010, LeBron saw an opportunity to be courted by several major teams: the Bulls, the     Clippers, the Knicks, the Nets, the Cavaliers and the Miami Heat.  At the time of LeBron’s move, the Cavaliers had made grand strides towards improvement: coming from having one of the longest losing streaks in NBA history.  It was clear that LeBron had been of great benefit to the team.  However, in your career, it is important that you be like LeBron and think of what your “team” can do to benefit you.  After LeBron’s move to Miami, Cleveland fans were visibly upset and they protested LeBron’s decision.  He was considered a traitor to his team and to Cleveland, but after LeBron made the decision, he had the courage to stick with that decision and do what was right for him.

It is always interesting to explore the possibilities of “what if?”  What if LeBron had not entertained a move to another team?  Would he have the championship rings he’s earned through his hard-work, dedication and decision-making skills?  What if LeBron had stayed with the Cavaliers?  Would the team’s much improved stats be enough to satisfy LeBron’s appetite for victory?  If you never consider other opportunities, you could be passing up the chance to do something greater or the opportunity to have more success than your current team can offer you.

Throughout the basketball world, LeBron is known by a name that leaves no one doubting his basketball prowess: King James.  Certainly, his move to the Miami Heat has done wonders for his popularity and his career, but King James has also never been more successful.  Have you considered the possibilities that could lead you to live like a king?

copyright

Pixie Meredith

Joseph Grimes

June 10, 2014

Help Me to Help You

Voicemail

When you walk into your office and you see the red voice mail signal lit up, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Just another recruiter? That is probably an accurate assumption. Typically, if you are contacted by one recruiter, you will be contacted by many recruiters. But the question is: how do you sort out the headhunters from the legal placement specialists? The term “headhunter” is often thrown around as another name for a recruiter. However, the recruiters of the past earned that name because of their tendency to hound potential candidates because they were only out to fill open positions and not to look for the best fit. A legal placement specialist is truly invested in your success and wants to find you the best possible fit. If you listen to your voice mails, you can always tell when you have one from someone is who is truly interested in assisting you. It is the voice mail that sets itself apart from others and the one you don’t mind taking three minutes to listen to. You understand that the person who contacted you has something to offer and it’s something worth listening to, whether the opportunity is with a firm or in-house.

When you get the message that sets itself apart from others, it is provocative and it helps you to understand that the person who contacted you wants nothing but to set you up for success. Before you delete that message, you need to take three minutes and listen to what it has to say, because you never know which message might present you with the first contact of something refreshing, different, and what could potentially be a game changer in your practice.

Joe.GLI logo

Once you listen to that refreshing message, remember that if you contact that recruiter back, even if the opportunity is not for you, at least you know that you didn’t pass on something that could have made all the difference in your career and, on top of it all, you now have a new and useful connection with someone who can help you down the road. If you find that the opportunity IS for you, then you have made a great investment out of those 3 minutes. If you have those 3 spare minutes, please help me to help you.

Forbes Reveals the Top 10 Tips for Dealing with An Overly Demanding Boss

All jobs are demanding at times, and it’s often the boss’s responsibility to get her staff to rise to the occasion–but some bosses go too far by putting excessive pressure on their employees.

Don’t take it personally. A demanding boss is focused on delivering results to his or her boss, not on the negative fallout you may feel that your work is never enough, Taylor says.
“Study how other team members react and you’ll likely see that your boss is consistently an over-achiever or expects others to be.”

Simic agrees. “Realize that an overly demanding boss may have their own overly demanding boss looming over them. Don’t take things personally.”

Help DeskConsider why your boss is being so demanding. Is it just a personality issue, or is there pressure from even higher up to meet certain objectives? “This can make a difference in how you approach the situation,” Friedman says.

Kahn concurs. He says it’s important to “read the room.” If your boss is also working to meet a goal or juggling multiple deadlines, make sure you’re being sensitive to that in your interactions. “Provide high-level updates on what they need to know and avoid chitchat unless they initiate.”

Don’t be a punching bag. “Don’t keep taking lumps with a smile on your face, be a martyr, or take responsibility for things that are out of your control,” Taylor says. “Your boss has invested time in you, so you have leverage in letting him know the ramifications of his work style. You have the needed skills set, are relied upon and know the company culture. If you’re performing well, it’s expensive and time-consuming to replace you. Keep that in mind when you are ready to approach your boss.”

Gently confront the boss. “Approach your boss with a calm, professional, rational style,” Taylor says. “Don’t get caught up in the hysteria and try to keep a sense of humor to simmer any existing tension.” A little levity can go a long way in disarming a tense, demanding boss. And a lot of your success also depends on the delivery and timing of your discussion.

Listen and repeat. Make sure you are always listening carefully, as ideas and directions may come quickly, Kahn suggests. “If you’re unsure about anything, ask clarifying questions. At the end of your meetings, repeat back the deliverables that you are responsible for to make sure you are on the same page.” And you never know: When the boss hears you rattle off your responsibilities, he might realize how unreasonable his expectations really are.

Set mutual expectations and priorities. “When your boss gives you an assignment, review where it sits on the priority list; give an estimate of how long it will take and what, if anything, you need to complete it,” Taylor says. Offer a reality check on how a new assignment affects your other ones and the potential for other missed deadlines. “Come to an agreement before you run off and find yourself in a hodgepodge of unreasonable tasks.”

Stay positive. Your sense of calm and commitment to delivering the Demanding-bossbest results will be appreciated, and help coach your boss in a better direction, Taylor says.

Be a problem-solver, not a problem-maker. If you’re going to miss deadlines, raise your hand early on. Come prepared to present your boss with potential solutions to show that you have the same sense of urgency as they do about projects, Kahn says. “If you encounter obstacles to completing a project, also bring these to your boss with potential solutions. They may not be the right solution, but this type of boss will appreciate your effort to help solve.”

Friedman says if there’s a corporate-level goal your boss is trying to attain, it may make more sense to try to figure out alternate ways of reaching that target. “She may even know that what the company is asking for is unreasonable, and may appreciate the extra help in brainstorming ways to boost productivity. If you have some ideas on ways to improve workflow or encourage the team to ramp up performance, approach your boss with sympathy, and offer your suggestions in a spirit of cooperation. The goal is probably less about getting credit for your ideas than getting a better working environment out of it.”

Use positive reinforcement. Praise your boss when you see the behavior you strive for, like planning ahead together, and ensuring that your goals and deadlines are reasonable and aligned, Taylor suggests. “Say something like, ‘I appreciated that you understood that we’d have to push back the XYZ project by a couple of days to tackle this new initiative.’”

Celebrate successes. Be sure to flag your successes for your boss, Kahn says. “Since they are so focused on reaching goals, they may inadvertently miss some of your achievements. They will appreciate you flagging these since, at the end of the day, your success is also their success.”

Taylor says you can do this by creating regular status reports. “Your manager will better understand your behind-the-scenes work if you detail it out in regular e-mails,” she says. “This will show your boss how productive you are and what it takes. Don’t overdue and risk looking like you’re in over your head. You don’t want your report to run for five pages every other day, or you’ll appear confrontational and passive aggressive. Be factual and concise so your boss can focus and prioritize.”

“Some bosses have been taught that being very demanding is the only way to get results, from prior jobs or the current one,” Taylor concludes. “It might be a management culture. That doesn’t mean you should mimic the style with your own team. Instead, role model the person you want your demanding manager to be by clearly describing workflow and priorities. You’ll do yourself, your boss, and others a big favor.”

Smith, Jacquelyn. “10 Tips For Dealing With An Overly Demanding Boss.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 10 July 2013. Web. 15 May 2014. To see more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/07/10/10-tips-for-dealing-with-an-overly-demanding-boss/

If You Want to Get the Job, DO NOT Do These Things!

It’s a potential life-changing event—yet so many people get it wrong. I’m talking about going for an interview for a position you really want; one that could have a dramatic impact on the rest of your life.

So, why is it that so many prospective employees don’t seem to grasp the essentials of getting the interviewer to fall in love with them and make a commitment to hire them?

While building successful businesses I’ve had the opportunity to conduct many interviews. Let me share with you 10 common faults I’ve identified from that experience. Avoid them if you really want to get the exciting job of your dreams.

1. Don’t Be Unprepared

First of all…don’t make the mistake of going into an interview without researching the industry, the company, the boss, and as much as you can about the specific position. If someone tells me they’re at the interview to learn about my company, that’s a total turn-off.

The interviewee should have gone out of his way to become knowledgeable and find out in advance everything he could about the enterprise he wants to work for. There are so many online resources today; it’s not something that’s hard to do. It shows that the candidate is serious about wanting the position. Part of being prepared is also making sure you don’t arrive late for the interview. That’s inexcusable. Shoot to get to the appointment way ahead of time just in case there are unexpected delays.

2. Don’t Go Casual

You must create a good first impression. And that starts with the first moment your interviewer sets eyes on you. At our company, we do not have a suit and tie dress code, but it’s disrespectful for a potential employee to stroll in wearing a torn T-shirt, jeans and sneakers. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. You’re attending a job interview—not a ball game.

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

I like inquisitive people. I like people who want to learn. And I actually like people who challenge me. So don’t forget that an interview is a two-way street. I’m trying to find out if you’ll fit in with the rest of my rock stars and what kind of dynamite contribution you can make to our success; hopefully, you’re curious about the people with whom you’ll be working, the Company’s culture, exactly what is going to be demanded of you—and the potential for growth within the company.

I’m going to be investing in you—so I want someone who’s going to make a commitment and be with us long-term. Please don’t forget that.

4. Don’t Use Clichés

I’ve heard them all. “I’m a problem-solver.” “I’m a real team player.” “I’m a perfectionist.” I don’t need to hear general descriptions of how great you are (especially those clichés). I do want to hear specific examples of your successes and who the inner you is. What character in any relationship do you value the most? What was the highest moment in your life and the most struggling? How did you react and prosper?

Interview

5. Don’t Trash Your Current Employer

You may well be unhappy at your current company. I don’t need to hear it. If you speak ill of your current employer what’s to say you won’t speak ill of me? Don’t bring any trash talk from your job into the interview. Saying you didn’t always see eye to eye is one thing; it may well show that you can think for yourself, especially if you can quote a positive element. One way or another it was a learning experience! But don’t harp on petty disputes or air any dirty laundry. Don’t trash talk anyone. You don’t want to gain a reputation for negativity.

6. Don’t Be Fake

There’s always the temptation to “play to the gallery” when you’re being interviewed. You’re inclined to tell the interviewer exactly what you think he wants to hear rather than exactly how you feel. OK. So it’s stressful and you want the job really badly. And maybe you even exaggerate your experience a little bit. My advice is to be real. Presenting a “fake you” and hyped credentials is not going to serve you in the long haul. Truth has a way of finding its way out.

7. Don’t Chit Chat

Never forget that this is an interview for a job. Be professional. Be business-like. This is not the forum to share intimate details of your personal life, the ups and downs of your marriage, or your recent break-up. It is the forum to discuss why you want the job and how you will be an asset to the company.

8. Don’t Be Evasive

A good interviewer will ask plenty of direct questions. Be ready to provide direct answers. Honesty is the best policy. A good interviewer will watch your body language and inflection of voice for any telltale evasions.

9. Don’t Talk Money

There’s a time and a place to discuss salary, bonuses, and perks of the job. And it’s not at the initial interview unless it’s something the interviewer raises. Your compensation package is obviously a matter for major discussion—when you know you’re going to get offered something. Then you can always negotiate from a position of strength.

10. Don’t Just Walk Away

At the end of the interview don’t simply say “thanks for your consideration” and depart—and that’s the end of it. If you want the position make it clear that you’re interested before you leave and try to find out the company’s level of interest in you. Say something like, “This sounds like an ideal position for me. Is there a fit here?” and “What’s our next step?”

Your next step, regardless, is to follow up. The same day. A brief, polite email thanking the interviewer for his consideration and reiterating your desire for the job is not only proper etiquette but also shows that you really want it. I’m always surprised when someone doesn’t follow up. But it happens.

Going for an interview is one of the most important (and challenging) events in anyone’s life. Don’t treat it casually if are serious about being part of a winning team. It’s your first chance to shine. Don’t make it your last chance.

Most of all, especially if you’re young, take risks and interview for the places that you can call a career – not a job. Life’s too short to be aiming for a 9 to 5.

Top Legal Recruiter Shares Proven Tips for Working Smarter, Not Harder

It’s easy to fall into a pattern of “always working” rather than working smart.  However, there are ways to avoid falling into that trap:

business-woman-drinking-coffee-by-a-sunny-window1. Take more breaks. In one of my favorite books, Stephen Covey tells a story about a woodcutter whose saw gets more blunt as time passes and he continues cutting down trees. If the woodcutter were to stop sawing, sharpen his saw, and go back to cutting the tree with a sharp blade, he would actually save time and effort in the long run.

The analogy is an easy one to remember but harder to put into practice. Here’s what Covey says about sharpening the saw in our lives:

Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have–you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Sharpening the saw is a great habit to get into in all areas of our lives, but I think it can be especially beneficial when it comes to work and helping us avoid burnout.

On average our brains are only able to remain focused for 90 minutes; then we need at least 15 minutes rest. (The phenomenon is based on ultradian rhythms.) By taking period breaks roughly every 90 minutes you allow your mind and body to renew–and be ready to fire off another 90-minute period of high activity.

For some people, 15 to 20 minute breaks might be tough to pull off, but taking short breaks throughout the day can still help you to refresh your mind and reset your attention span.

sleeping-in-cubicle2. Take naps. Research shows naps lead to improvement in cognitive function, creative thinking, and memory performance. In particular, napping benefits the learning process by helping us take in and retain information better.

The improved learning process comes from naps actually helping our brain to solidify memories. According to Max Read, “Research indicates that when memory is first recorded in the brain–in the hippocampus, to be specific–it’s still ‘fragile’ and easily forgotten, especially if the brain is asked to memorize more things. Napping, it seems, pushes memories to the neocortex, the brain’s ‘more permanent storage,’ preventing them from being ‘overwritten.’”

One study into memory found that participants did remarkably better on a test following a nap than those who didn’t sleep at all.

Not only are naps beneficial for consolidating memories and helping us remember new information (handy if your job includes a lot of research during the day!), they’re also useful in helping us to avoid burnout, since research shows burnout is a signal that says you can’t take in more information in this part of your brain until you’ve had a chance to sleep.

3. Spend time in nature. Daniel Goleman, author of Focus: The Hidden Power of Excellence,

Continue reading

Dynamite L/E Powerhouses Pave the Way for Hottest Lateral Move Trend

Following the newest trend in lateral moves, two rainmaker attorneys made the leap from an Am Law 100 firm to one of the most innovative firms in the country last week.  Our seasoned GLI recruiters recently noted several Am Law 100 lawyers who found their ideal growth opportunities at more strategic, entrepreneurial Am Law 200 firms.  Dawn M. Lurie joined Polsinelli last week from a top Am Law 100 firm in Washington, DC and brings with her over 20 years of experience.  Joining Dawn in her move is Mahsa Aliaskari, previously a special counsel with the same firm.

Dawn LurieDawn advises on U.S. and global immigration matters and is ranked as a leading business immigration lawyer by Legal 500, Chambers, Best Lawyers, and Who’s Who
Legal as well as other publications.  Formerly the leader of her firm’s Business Immigration and Compliance practice, Dawn is admitted in New Jersey and Washington, DC and received her Juris Doctorate from American University’s Washington College of Law. Dawn advises domestic corporations on a variety of compliance-related issues, particularly related to Form I-9 alien employment verification matters.  Dawn was attracted to Polsinelli because of their shared vision for the future and drive. Dawn felt it was the absolute best move which supported her client’s needs and was beneficial for her as well because all indicators point to huge growth initiatives now and continuing over the next 4-5 years.  “Polsinelli,” Dawn explained “has everything that the Am Law 100 firms are known for, but their huge flexibility, national practices, platforms and culture scream cooperation!”

Mahsa AliaskariMahsa was the leader of her firm’s Los Angeles Immigration group.  She represents national and international employers before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Department of Labor in connection with immigration-related employment matters. Providing practical and innovative strategies and immigration practices that work for companies since 1998, she has assisted various companies, professionals and skilled workers in obtaining immigrant and nonimmigrant visas.  She focuses her practice on business professionals across a number of industries, including health care, finance, trade, retail, manufacturing, technology and entertainment. Mahsa was drawn to Polsinelli due to their vast growth possibilities.

GLI wishes Dawn and Mahsa all the best with their new firm.

GLI/Grimes Legal, Inc. has been assisting in successful placements like these for over 25 years.  Following the suit of many groundbreaking partners, Dawn and Mahsa made a move from a top Am Law 100 firm to one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial firms in America;  a smart strategy.  GLI strategizes to recruit and place world-class talent for outstanding law firms of any size or location – partners, practice heads, practice groups, and mergers.  With coast-to-coast contacts and a network of highly skilled recruiters, we use our unmatched experience to exceed your expectations every time.

The holiday networking survival guide

Posted by Amanda Augustine
December 03, 2013 @ 02:28 PM

Make the most of this festive season by networking your way through the holidays.

networking_holiday_toast‘Tis the season for holiday parties, open houses, family get-togethers…and networking!

Whether you love it or loathe it, networking has become a key component in every professional’s career development and job-search strategy. It can help you establish your personal brand, uncover new job leads, and gain valuable insight into a prospective employer.

The holidays are an especially great time to put your networking skills to work. Below are some of my favorite articles that cover all aspects of networking, from developing your elevator pitch to incorporating networking into your everyday life.

 

Happy holiday networking!

 

5 tips for networking success
Start networking today to take your job search to the next level.

How to network without begging
Leverage your professional network during a job search without begging for favors.

Networking anytime, anywhere
Incorporate networking into your regular routine to boost your career.

How to pitch your value: Dissecting the elevator pitch
Develop a strong elevator pitch that highlights your key skill sets, passions, and job goals.

Mastering the informational interview for your job search
If you’re exploring new industries or career paths, incorporate informational interviews into your job-search strategy.

Work your next networking event
Build a strategy to maximize the benefits of every networking opportunity.

Want to learn more? Click on the following link for additional information on networking.

 

Amanda AugustineAmanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.

 

16 Things You Should Do On Your Lunch Break Every Day

Jacquelyn Smith

Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes Staff

Forbes.com

How do you spend your lunch break? Do you quickly chow down a sandwich at a nearby deli with your eyes glued to your Blackberry? Do you devour a salad at your desk with one hand on your keyboard? Perhaps you skip lunch altogether because you have “too much on your plate.”

“A common complaint I hear is about lunch time getting squeezed down to ten minutes, or to nothing at all, with people eating on the fly or eating while hunched over their computers,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker, author and president of Humor at Work.

Why does this happen? Because America has become such a work-obsessed society that we tend to shun the notion of taking a break, explains Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD, organizational psychologist and author of The YOU Plan. “Just like professional athletes, we all need the energy from calories for our minds to function at their best. And we all need a little time to recharge, too.”

Last month I laid out the 16 things you should do at the start of every work day and the 16 things you should do at the end of every work day. I concluded that how you spend the first few and last few hours in the office can have a significant effect on your level of productivity. As it turns out, what you do during your lunch hour can be just as important, and that time shouldn’t be overlooked. Taking a midday break during which you refuel and re-energize can not only make you a better employee, but also a healthier and happier person.

“You should be as strategic about your lunch hour as you are about your day in general,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.

With the help of career and workplace experts Michael Kerr, Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, Lynn Taylor, Anita Attridge, Alexandra Levit and David Shindler, I compiled a list of 16 things all workers should do during their lunch break.

“It’s critical to make the most of lunch and remind yourself that by taking a proper break you will accomplish more in the long run, and that productivity and creativity will increase, while your levels of stress and fatigue will diminish,” Kerr says.

Anita Attridge, a career and executive coach with the Five O’Clock Club, a career coaching organization, adds that taking time to disconnect from your work provides renewed energy, and, as a result, makes the rest of the day go more smoothly. “Typically, the afternoon can bring some lulls that can be offset by having been away from your desk. Talking with people about something besides work during lunchtime can also boost your energy level and improve your mood.”

Alexandra Levit, the author of Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success, agrees. A lunch break not only fuels your motivation to power toward the end of the day, it also gives you something to look forward to in the morning. “Most people accomplish work best in short bursts with breaks in between, so organizing your schedule around these natural energy peaks will help you be more productive.”

What you do during your midday break might vary depending on your job, company culture or personal priorities—but the experts agree all workers should try to do these 16 things during lunch hour:

Make a plan. “Don’t squander your lunch break because it’s ‘free time,’” Taylor says. Time is a non-renewable resource, wherever you are, whatever the time of day. Try your best to plan it out and make the most of it.

You should also plan your activities immediately after lunch, Kerr suggests. “Giving thought to how you prioritize and schedule events in the afternoon can maximize your productivity. For example, scheduling a meeting or conference call right after lunch may end up causing you stress over the lunch hour or you may end up squeezing the lunch break in order to get back in time and be ready for the meeting.”

Take a real break. Breaking from work for 60 seconds to chow down your lunch at your desk doesn’t count. “In order to get a period of true respite, the time has to involve an actual break from work,” Levit says. Try not to check your e-mail, bring work with you or talk about work during lunch.

Decompress. The first thing you should do when your lunch break begins is take a deep breath and relax, Taylor suggests. “You’ve likely been on over-drive all morning, putting out fires. Before you decide how to spend that golden hour, take a couple minutes to clear your head. Take your break-neck pace to a halt; don’t automatically jump to the next ‘to do’ item. When you’re relaxed, you can better strategize your goals with a broader and wiser perspective.”

Get up from your desk or work space. “Staying at your desk is a big no-no in my book,” Kerr says. “There are more and more reports on the dangers of sitting too long, so even just getting up to walk to another room to eat is important, or better still, getting outside for some fresh air and a quick walk can do wonders for the body and spirit.”

Even if you don’t sit at a desk, you should get away from your work space during lunch, as it will help you clear your mind. Continue reading

Sizing Up an Orrick-Pillsbury Combo

SAN FRANCISCO — The proposed merger of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman would instantly make the firm the biggest in the Bay Area, with nearly 500 lawyers split between the San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices.

But that’s almost beside the point.

On each side, the strategic thinking seems more about strengthening practices and offices outside the Bay Area.

Both firms have long been cruising the merger market, with Orrick famously getting close a few times in recent years only to end up empty-handed. Pillsbury has done a series of combinations, yet today is the same size it was in 2001.

Orrick

Because the two S.F.–rooted firms have looked so far and wide for potential partners, there would be some irony should they wind up together. Partners at both firms are just learning about the deal, but are “more excited about this merger than any of the others,” said Sandy Lechtik, president and founder of Esquire Inc., a legal search firm in touch with lawyers at both firms. “It seems that the two firms will play to each other’s strengths and put wind in each other’s sails.”
The firms and their respective chairs aren’t speaking publicly about the merger talks or whether there has been a decision about who would lead the firm: Mitchell Zuklie, the young Valley-based Orrick chairman who took over in March, or James Rishwain Jr., the Los Angeles real estate partner who has helmed Pillsbury since 2006.

The consensus among industry strategists seems to be that large firms with shabby or indistinct brands need to get bigger to thrive. When he took over, Zuklie told The Recorder that he wanted the firm to be known for its practices rather than its management—a nod at the legacy left by the 20-year reign of Orrick’s Ralph Baxter, who built Orrick’s global network of offices but left the firm without the clear “this is what they do” identity enjoyed by a firm like Cooley, in the Valley, or Cravath, on Wall Street, or even rivals like Morrison & Foerster, with its tech emphasis.

pillsbury

“If you’re not going to have that uniqueness, there is a tremendous push for size,” said David Berger, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and chair of the firm’s policy committee.

Though smaller clients often say they don’t really want firms to get bigger, having a lot of bodies and offices around the world is seen as the key to landing work for global corporate giants. Put the two firms together, and they’d have several leading practices catering to that clientele, starting with Pillsbury’s crown-jewel energy practice, which would gain from Orrick’s strength in Africa and renewables. Orrick sees synergies from Pillsbury’s regulatory depth in D.C., courtesy of its 2005 merger with Shaw Pittman, and in the financial services sector, where the firms see cross-selling opportunities.

Orrick also likes Pillsbury’s corporate practice, which includes the Valley’s Jorge Del Calvo, and is a quiet IPO powerhouse: In 2012 it took five U.S. companies public, the same number as Cooley, ranking it fifth for IPOs.

But Pillsbury’s overall brand is a little beat-up. Widely viewed as the city’s preeminent firm a generation ago, it’s since given up ground—to Orrick, to Morrison & Foerster, to the tech-focused Valley firms. A former Orrick partner said his old firm “has more brand recognition and respect in the marketplace.”

GLOBAL FOOTPRINT

Continue reading