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  • Wed, March 18, 2020 10:40 AM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)

    We've all been told that even if we don’t have symptoms of Covid-19, the best thing we can do is stay home during this time. And that’s what we’re doing. But rather than social distancing, what’s actually needed is physical distancing – because we need our social connections more than ever now. So while we can’t nourish our social health by getting together in person, here are a few recommendations to keep our social connections strong.

    1.      Text at least 2 people a day. Even something as simple as “Hey, what’s up?” can do the trick.

    2.      Phone calls. Make at least one phone call a day. We connect better the more physical cues we get from one another and hearing someone else’s voice can convey much more information than a simple text message. It’s nice for us, and nice for them. We are all longing for it right now.

    3.      VIDEO CALLS!! You’ll get the most social benefit from being as close to physically present with one another as possible and video calls are the best way to maintain this contact. Seeing people’s faces and having conversations with real social cues is going to be key to staying sane. Try video chatting one person at least once a day (because you’re obviously still getting dressed and presentable for your remote work day). Some of the best places to host 1:1 video calls and their capacities: WhatsApp (4), FaceTime (32), Google Duo (8), Google Hangouts (10), Skype (50), Zoom (100), Facebook Messenger (6), Houseparty (8), and Squad.

    These are small but important things you can do daily to keep social connections strong. And should you need ideas for reasons to call besides a virtual happy hour, here are 9 of my favorites:

    1.      Start a movie club or start binge watching the same show as a few friends. Keep a group thread going to comment on what’s happening. Leave your favorite show suggestions for us all in the comments! Black Mirror on Netflix is great for interesting conversation starters.

    2.      Schedule daily meditations and hold each other accountable. Your mental health is key right now and studies have shown that nothing is better for your brain than meditating. There are apps, podcasts, and YouTube channels with guided meditations that are easy and free to access. Designate a different person each day to send out the meditation and commit to sharing your experiences.

    3.      Workout together! Do the same workout video/app/channel/activity and open a video chat together while you take the class. Or hold each other accountable by checking in after each session on the days you’ve agreed to workout.

    4.      Cook the same recipe and then do a virtual dinner party. Leave your recipe recommendations in the comments!

    5.      Post journaling prompts or table topics and then share your thoughts with each other on the subjects. Here’s a great list to get started.

    6.      Help each other clean out your closets. Try on clothes and get feedback on what you should keep or toss.

    7.      Start a virtual book club. Check in every few days and comment on the latest chapters in the book. Already reading something? Let us know what it is and why we should read it in the comments.

    8.      Learn something new and take an online class together. There are thousands of Ivy League classes available – and likely more coming soon. Also check out Coursera, General Assembly, Masterclass, or LinkedIn Learning. What do you want to learn this week?

    9.      And of course, BYOB and host a remote happy hour – or coffee club! – on a regular basis.

    Let us know what you’re planning to do to keep your spirits high and socially connected while practicing physical distancing. Hopefully in a few weeks we will all be able to get back to safely connecting with each other in person, but for now, we hope all members of walraa, their friends, coworkers, and family, stay safe, healthy, and mentally nourished. Happy connecting!


  • Tue, March 10, 2020 10:17 AM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)

    COURTNEY CARTER

    Director of Diversity & Inclusion
    Jenner & Block LLP

    Courtney Carter is a dedicated WALRAA member, and we love following her stories on Instagram. Her posts are inspiring and always positive, and she shares that same spirit with us in her answers below. Read on to hear how she discovered her professional passion, what keeps her going in her career, and more.

    1.      How long have you been a member of WALRAA? What has been your favorite experience so far?
    Since 2016. My favorite experience has probably been serving on the strategic planning committee. It has been so fun to help work on the future of WALRAA with an amazingly dedicated group. I have been able to get to know a number of WALRAA members better through this process, which is by far my favorite experience.

    2.      How has WALRAA helped you in your field?
    Having connections with other professionals is inherently helpful in the work I do. It also is great to have friendly folks to bounce ideas off of.

    3.      How did you first learn about and get started in Attorney Recruiting/Career Services?
    I have always been interested in diversity and inclusion and began working in the space back in 2012 with a job at NALP. Back when I was in law school, I had no idea jobs like mine existed and was pleasantly surprised to realize I could combine my personal and professional passions and get paid for it!

    4.      What is your favorite moment of your career so far?
    This is hard to choose but I would say those small wins - whether it is celebrating when our diverse lawyers make partner, a successful lawyers of color conference or a new diverse lawyer joining the firm. Those wins are my favorite moments by far.

    5.      What is it that challenges you most in your job?
    It is challenging to work on diversity and inclusion issues that are rooted in both systemic and individual challenges. However, I love what I do, so the challenge can be invigorating.

    6.      How do you balance your career and personal life?
    I think it's more integration rather than balance. I do check email after hours and on weekends but I also make sure to try and take vacations and trips as well. I try to do things that refresh me every week and I recognize when I need to take a work from home day if things are feeling particularly crazy.

    7.      What professional goals have you set for yourself this year?
    I always have a goal to do public speaking at conferences and other meetings and that is a goal this year as well.

    8.      What is the best professional advice you have received?
    Not to be afraid to ask for what I want.

    9.      What do you like to do for fun?
    I am an avid runner and love traveling for races. I have run ten marathons and running with friends is one of my favorite things. I also LOVE karaoke and having fun with friends. If you attend NALP this year, you will DEFINITELY see me performing karaoke on the stage. :)

    10.  Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?
    I am a military brat and moved every 2-4 years as a kid. As such, I attended 3 high schools in 2 states!



  • Tue, March 03, 2020 4:20 PM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)

    The 2020 Educational Conference is one week away! We can't wait to see you there, and wanted to encourage everyone to share their experiences with us and each other. Follow and share to #walraaeducationalconference on Instagram and Twitter!  

  • Wed, February 26, 2020 12:45 PM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)

    Eva Wisnik will be joining WALRAA's 2020 Educational Conference this year as a breakout speaker on March 10th. Eva is the President and Founder of the training and placement firm for lawyers, Wisnik Career Enterprises. She started her firm in 1996 and has worked with some of the top law firms in the country, placing more than 800 professionals nationwide. She recently turned her passionate focus to wellness, and just this year launched a Well-Being Program dedicated to legal professionals. We are thrilled to be one of the first groups presented with her wellness wisdom.

    Eva’s breakout session is entitled Your Well-Being: Rituals, Habits, & Tips and will be held in the afternoon on the day of the conference. If you’d like to learn more prior to the talk, Eva has a Wisdom blog that you can access via her website wisnik.com.

    See you at the Conference!


  • Thu, February 20, 2020 9:58 AM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)


    We are thrilled to have wellness consultant Tara Owens Antonipillai leading an afternoon yoga session at the 2020 Educational Conference this year. Tara specializes in law firm and corporate wellness programs, and has been a guest speaker at many firms in the DC area. A Georgetown trained attorney herself, she is astutely aware of the specific stresses attorneys face and how to mitigate the effects with stress management, mindfulness, & fitness.

    With over 20 years of study in mindfulness and meditation, Tara is a wealth of good advice on all things wellness. Below are 10 wellness event ideas for your summer program, from her most recent blog post that you can read in its entirety here

    1.      Set up a wellness/relaxation room

    2.      Grab n’go mentor/mentee lunch

    3.      Kombucha or pressed juice mocktail hour

    4.      Rooftop yoga or fitness

    5.      Scavenger hunt

    6.      Art class

    7.      5k training team and race

    8.      Moderated well-being group

    9.      In-depth workshops

    10.  Have fun!

    Get more insight on each of these ideas by reading the full article by Tara, and sign up to follow her blog and get regular wellness tips while you’re there! And don’t forget to register to join us at the 2020 Educational Conference for Tara’s yoga session and a lot more wellness centered inspiration.

    If you tried any of these ideas or can add to this list, let us know about it in the comments below.



  • Mon, February 17, 2020 1:21 PM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)

    JEENA CHO
    Lawyer, Author, Mindfulness Instructor

    The first time I ever heard about implicit bias I was instantly intrigued. Finding that there was a test for it, I jumped at the opportunity to see my results. At the time I was still living in Portland, Oregon – a place that prides itself on being open minded and encouraging diversity – and I figured since I grew up there I would do fairly well on the test. I wasn’t wrong, but what was most revealing to me was that I also wasn't right. The test revealed that I did, in fact, have biases. I was until that moment completely unaware of it, and more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of something like this being hidden away from me in my head. The test makers reassured me that I was fairly normal in these characteristics, but that did little to assuage my Portland hipster ego.

    So what is implicit bias? It’s important to acknowledge that implicit bias resides in an area of our brains that is largely outside our awareness or ability to control. It is an involuntary attitude or stereotype that acts on our decisions and understandings in unconscious, out of sight, way. We don’t even know they are there. Which is why, when the Harvard test revealed it to me those many years ago, I was a bit taken aback.

    Since taking that test I’ve become much more curious, and conscious, of the ways implicit bias works and can be countered in our everyday lives. It is especially important to be aware of the impacts in recruiting, where an oversight of bias can lead to major gaps in hiring.  Which is why I’m excited to hear from the upcoming plenary speaker for the 2020 WALRAA Educational Conference, Jeena Cho.

    Jeena Cho, author of The Anxious Lawyer, will be speaking on Managing Implicit Bias Through Mindfulness at the opening lunch for the Conference, beginning at 12pm, March 10th, at the InterContinental at the Wharf. When it comes to managing bias, the more tools you can add to your toolbox, the better chance there is of creating change. Don’t miss Jeena’s talk and learn how mindfulness can help us create more room to maneuver around implicit bias.

    Want to see how you fare on implicit bias? Click here to take the Harvard sponsored test, Project Implicit, that shattered my illusions those many years ago.


  • Tue, February 11, 2020 2:21 PM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)

    NIRVANA DOVE

    Manager of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
    Thompson Hine LLP
    2020 Educational Conference Committee


    Nirvana Dove is one of three dedicated WALRAA members that have generously volunteered to lead the planning and organization of this year's Educational Conference. The Educational Conference is WALRAA’s largest and most well attended event, and requires a LOT of behind-the-scenes coordination from its committee members. As our February Spotlight member, we take a closer look at what motivates her and how she keeps her balance. Show your support in the comments below!

    1.      How long have you been a member of WALRAA? What has been your favorite experience so far?
    I have been a member of WALRAA since 2015. I think my favorite experience has been serving as co-chair of the Diversity Committee and working closely with a fellow WALRAA member to plan the committee's annual program. This opportunity was a great way to dive deeply into a topic that was important to both of us and allowed us to get to know one another.

    2.      How has WALRAA helped you in your field?
    WALRAA has been a great resource for connecting with people who have been able to provide advice and share information. Through these invaluable connections, I learned more about diversity, equity and inclusion work and, ultimately, decided to focus my career in this field.

    3.      How did you first learn about and get started in Attorney Recruiting/Career Services? 
    After I left legal practice, I spent some time working to identify my passions and the type of work that is fulfilling to me. When I started at Georgetown, I knew that I was interested in DE&I work and I knew I was interested in serving as the type of adviser that I wished I'd had in law school. With that, however, I wasn't really clear on the possibilities for making a career out of this work. Over time, my role at Georgetown became increasingly more focused on DE&I and I honed my interests and focus.

    4.      What is your favorite moment of your career so far? 
    My favorite moments are when either a student or attorney that I've worked with has come back to me to share their achievements. These moments are fulfilling and affirm that I'm accomplishing my goal.

    5.      What is it that challenges you most in your job? 
    The biggest challenges in my job is that there isn't a clear roadmap to guide me and the fact that the changes in our profession that I am working to make will happen slowly and over time.

    6.      How do you balance career and personal life? 
    The support of professional champions/sponsors and ability to work flexibly are critical to my ability to have work-life autonomy to balance my career, family and other responsibilities. At each stage of my career, I carefully review how a particular role will work in connection with the rest of life and I am very transparent about my equal dedication to work and to family. That said, there is never a perfect balance!

    7.      What professional goals have you set for yourself this year? 
    This year, I am looking forward to successfully implementing the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Action Plan that my team developed for our firm in 2019 and continuing to hone my expertise in DE&I best practices and innovative concepts.

    8.      What is the best professional advice you have received? 
    The best professional advice that I have ever received is to engage in work that you love and are passionate about. I'm grateful to be able to do this work.

    9.      What do you like to do for fun? 
    I love to hang out with my kids and my husband, to travel and sleep is also pretty high up there on the list.

    10.  Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know? 
    I nearly pursued a career as a professional ballerina before I went to law school. Quite the different path!


  • Mon, February 10, 2020 10:56 AM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)

    Over the past few weeks, Above the Law has published a two part article on the topic of the law firm hiring process – and it hasn’t been positive. Although the author writes primarily from the perspective of the candidate, and sees the onus of responsibility on the partners, as legal professionals we have a duty to consider our share of the responsibility.

    The two articles explore hiring process pain points including how long the process takes, interviews granted as favors, the stressed out and stretched out interviewee, and the die-hard habits of interview questions, cover and thank you letters.

    Granted, being caught smack in the middle of a non-responsive partner and an eager candidate has often left me feeling frustrated, as I’m sure it has for most in that position. However, the articles bring up good questions for review, and certainly something to talk about. Are there better ways we can be influencing this process? Alternatives for communication during the sometimes incredibly dragged out interview process? How have you handled this problem at your firm, if at all? Let us know in the comments below.  

    Read the first article here, and the second here.


  • Wed, January 08, 2020 11:43 AM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)

    JANIE PIEMONTE

    Recruiting and Program Manager
    George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School
    2020 WALRAA President 


    Welcome to a New Year of exciting events, programs, monthly meetings and mentorship from WALRAA! As you may know, stepping up to lead WALRAA in 2020 are several new board members and executives. Our member spotlight focus for this month is the newly elected President, Janie Piemonte. Get to know Janie and her vision for WALRAA in her own words below.

    Message from Janie:

    “I am excited to be the WALRAA President for 2020, the first year of a new 5-year strategic plan for the organization. I look forward to meeting even more of our members and learning how we can best serve all of you. Taking my direction from the great work being done by the strategic plan committee, I hope to be able to increase the developmental programming for all our membership and also re-energize our experienced professionals who have so much wonderful experience to share. I am looking forward to a great year of fun, learning, and professional and personal growth together! “

    1.      How long have you been a member of WALRAA? What has been your favorite experience so far?
    I have been a member of WALRAA for 4 years. I think my favorite experience was probably the WALRAA Happy Hour at the NALP conference in Hollywood, Florida 2 years ago. It was such a great venue and a terrific opportunity to connect with each other.

    2.      How has WALRAA helped you in your field?
    As the main contact for large firm hiring at our law school, WALRAA has been instrumental in helping me develop and strengthen my relationships with the many firms represented.

    3.      How did you first learn about and get started in Attorney Recruiting/Career Services?
    Funny thing is I did not set out to do this particular role, I just took a job in the Career Services area to work with the law students. The role I currently have sort of developed over time as I took on more responsibilities from the counselor previously working with large firms........she is a long time WALRAA member!

    4.      What is your favorite moment of your career so far?
    I think there are moments every year when I see a particular student blossom and come into their own. Helping them navigate the many career options out there and finding the best "fit" for them is very rewarding.

    5.      What is it that challenges you most in your job?
    The legal hiring model can be particularly challenging when I see students I know have great potential experience somewhat limited options due to the emphasis on 1L grades.

    6.      How do you balance your career and personal life?
    Not always particularly well :). I try hard not to check my email on weekends and take time to do something that is fun and rejuvenating.

    7.      What professional goals have you set for yourself this year?
    I feel I can always improve in how I do my current job by thinking broader and sometimes outside the box so that is a goal this year. In addition I am trying to be more mindful in general. I am very action oriented so sometimes I need to be more willing to sit with an idea for a while and let it come to its full potential.

    8.      What is the best professional advice you have received?
    I think the most impactful professional advice I have received was being reminded that not everyone works in the same way but that doesn't make one right or one wrong.

    9.      What do you like to do for fun?
    I love to travel and have time with family, immediate and extended. I also enjoy quiet pursuits like jigsaw puzzles and needlework.

    10.  Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?
    I started my career as a financial trader and my background is actually in financial analysis, very far from what I do now!

    We’d love to know what you think. Leave us a comment about Janie, her vision, or your thoughts on WALRAA’s future in the comments below.

  • Mon, December 30, 2019 1:34 PM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)


    According to today’s Washington Post article, that is exactly where our HR departments are headed. The authors report that the emphasis on belonging grew out of a natural progression from looking at what was working and not working in diversity and inclusion programs. Belonging in the workplace is quickly becoming HR's next hot topic - although not everyone is quite certain how to implement it yet.

    For its proponents, using the word ‘belonging’ is intended to bring in an emotional element of diversity and inclusion, rather than just focusing on bottom line numbers or who is in the room. As subsequent generations of students continue to rise into the ranks of companies (and law firms), they are looking for a sense of community and social connection. Belonging is the word that feels right.

    Have you seen an emphasis on belonging in your firm conversations yet? Let us know in the comments below!


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