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October 19, 2022 Did You Know?

When I Was a New Lawyer

By Janice P. Brown
Janice Brown, then and now.

Janice Brown, then and now.

Courtesy Janice Brown

What inspired you to become a lawyer? And what did you do prior to becoming a lawyer?

I wanted to be a journalist, but I had a very bad bicycle accident that severely damaged my face. And, I thought that being a lawyer may be a better profession as I didn’t know how my face would turn out. Further, my father was quite a taskmaster and I needed to learn how to argue to stand my ground. So, my beloved father inspired me.

How did you become involved with the ABA?

In the early 1990s, the ABA was committed to teaching lawyers of color how to be effective business developers. They would encourage us to “stay connected.” And I did. I still belong to the ABA, and I serve on the ABA Retirement Board.

What is the benefit of a new lawyer becoming active with the ABA?

ABA leaders and members are social and committed to public service. The ABA attracts good people. Good people are great for your soul. New lawyers are embraced in the ABA.

What early career practices led to your success?

I am a life-long learner. I love to learn, and the law provides countless opportunities to learn. I also like inspiring others.

What early career mistakes did you make and what did you learn from them?

I was too easy to offend. I could get my feelings hurt way too easily. Thus, I’d let someone else’s energy dictate mine. Bad strategy. So, now I am more difficult to offend—so much more peaceful

What is your advice for dealing with difficult partners, colleagues, or counsel?

First of all, one of my favorite quotes is: “If the answer to your problem is that someone else needs to change—you are doomed.” My best advice is to be introspective and not caught up in others’ drama or anger. It takes practice, but it is so very effective. If someone can’t trigger you, do you know how powerful that is?!

What is your advice for a new lawyer seeking to acquire, retain, and nurture client relationships?

The first thing that I would advise is that you understand your WHY for developing business. Is it to help others? Is it to make money? Is it to compete with others? The truth is the “helping others” path is the easiest.

What challenges you the most?

Oh, I love inspiring others to be the best they can be, which means that I need to be the best I can be, and sometimes I just don’t want to be.

What gives you the most satisfaction?

When I overcome my self-made limitations.

What are your future ambitions for the next five to ten years?

I’d like to find a pathway to dedicate more of my time to change the culture of the practice of law so that lawyers can thrive and succeed with joy. Yes, I said it—JOY!

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By Janice P. Brown

Janice P. Brown is an Equity Principal with MeyersNave.