Are You Violet or Are You Martha Levinson?

Are You Violet or Are You Martha Levinson?

By Jennifer Lewin

Posted 1/7/2013 by Jennifer Lewin


I confess to being one of the many who scheduled her evening around Downton Abbey last night. And besides witnessing Mary and Matthew’s wedding (finally) and enjoying a reunion with the ever-quotable Violet, I was struck most by the episode’s pull between tradition and change. Most of us spend a good bit of our work lives negotiating that tension. As I reflect on it, I spend most of mine tracking the innovative, and frankly I tend to give traditions pretty short shrift. Maybe it’s because we have just come through the holidays, but I realize I need to change that.


There are so many traditions our bars carry out that members continue to value. I think about the bar memorial services that honor attorneys who have passed. These are events local bars have held for decades, and they consistently rank at the top in member surveys. Or it’s the sometimes raucous bench-bar gatherings or the annual crawfish boils where lawyers and judges socialize and interact on equal footing. But what do we do when attendance starts to dwindle or members start to complain about the “old way” that an event is handled? How do we respond? Are we the intractable Violet? Do we want to burn it all down like Martha Levinson? Or are we taking the time to identify what’s valuable in our traditions and occasionally reinterpret them to make them more meaningful to ourselves, our members and our communities? My personal resolution for 2013 is to find a bit more of that middle ground.  


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