Close your eyes. Imagine yourself taking a break from the daily hustle and bustle of work emails, court appearances and phone calls. Picture a cool autumn breeze sending leaves dancing around your feet. The Rocky Mountains tower behind you as the trees burst with color. That’s part of what you can expect from the upcoming ABA lawyer retreat. The ABA will be hosting a retreat in Vail, CO on October 5th. This one day, first of its kind retreat is focused on helping lawyers see their work differently, taking into account the whole lawyer. We had an opportunity to find out more about this program from planning committee chair and Chair-Elect of the ABA LP Division, Katy Goshtasbi.
LM: Were there any legal trends and things you were seeing in practices that led to the creation of this particular retreat?
KG: From my years of consulting with lawyers on how to grow their practice and themselves, I noticed that no one was really offering conferences that had experiential learning. All the conferences were boring and not very helpful- you sit around a table with mints in the middle of the table, you listen to someone talk at you, then you walk away inspired for 5 minutes, not knowing how to implement what you just heard for the benefit of your own practice and your own strengths. It didn’t work. That’s why this Retreat is so different and unique.
LM: What does it mean to focus on the “whole” lawyer?
KG: A lawyer is above all a human. As humans, we have to deal with issues and challenges, such as how to have difficult conversations, that span beyond our practice of law. Yet addressing and experientially learning about the issues we will address at the Retreat will support the whole lawyer, personally and professionally. You can’t just grow one aspect of yourself. The whole lawyer has to grow and change in order to be effective everywhere in life, including your practice.
LM: What sets this retreat apart from other lawyer retreats?
KG: It’s the fact that it’s all experiential learning- you get to try it on and tailor it to your strengths and needs. It’s also that it is about the whole lawyer, personal and business- you get bang for your buck and time. It’s the fact that it’s set in Vail, where you get to relax, meet other lawyers, network and do all of the above-mentioned. We’re efficient!!
LM: The facilitators for this retreat come from various professional backgrounds. Tell us a little bit about the facilitators for this event.
KG: We decided to hire world-class facilitators who are experts in their fields. For instance, we are having a master trainer teach the segment on Crucial Conversations, from the NYT Bestselling book of the same name. Other facilitators are actual lawyers, such as Tommy Galan, who was a litigator in New York before he realized his passion and purpose is in improv. Tommy brings improv to lawyers and is certified to do so for CLE. Improv is not about being funny- it’s about being able to think fast on your feet, think creatively and bring that creativity to your practice- and have fun. You can find more information about retreat facilitators here.
LM: Katy, aside from being the chair of this planning committee, you are the founder of Puris Consulting. Can you tell us about the work you do with personal and professional brand development?
KG: In my day job, I consult with organizations that want to grow and be industry leaders. Growth is all about change and transformation. If your law firm is not ready to change and transform, then you can’t grow and excel. I work with firms and lawyers who are ready to grow. Together with leadership, we develop their strategy and operational plan for growth, work with their lawyers on developing their brands so that the law firm growth brand is a reflection of the employee/lawyers’ individual brands. I then take all this and message it out to the public in a 15 point marketing plan.
LM: What can retreat attendees expect from the sessions planned for the day?
KG: The entire day is well thought out to allow for optimal experiential learning AND to allow for ample time to digest the information, process it, share it with colleagues and network and relax. We start the day with optional outdoor yoga facing Vail Mountain. The various sessions address how to have crucial conversations- those hard conversations we don’t want to have at our law firms and at home, how to use design thinking in your practice, how to add EQ to your JD and how to use improv to improve your communication and business development skills. On Thursday night we have a great welcome reception planned and on Friday night, we are taking everyone off site for dinner and more great activities.
LM: Who is encouraged to attend this retreat?
KG: We have purposefully allowed a wide audience here because we think it is important to be inclusive. We encourage any and every lawyer to attend- regardless of firm size. Large firm lawyers may have their own firm retreats, but we know they will get a very different experience with this retreat. Medium to small firm lawyers don’t often get to experience a retreat- we encourage them to bring their colleagues and practice groups. We also encourage administrators and spouses/significant others to attend, as well.
LM: What do you hope attendees will gain from attending the retreat?
KG: My big hope is that attendees will choose to see things from a different perspective after this retreat, leaving them with newfound ideas and processes for growing their practice and being happier as a person.
LM: Where can those interested register and find our more information?
KG: We have a very robust website with all the information you need to register: www.abalawyerretreat.org