Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

ABA Retreat to Focus on the Whole Lawyer

ABA logoTalking less and doing more is the focus of a first-of-its kind ABA retreat that will emphasize personal and professional growth.

On October 4 and 5, lawyers and their staffs will gather at Vail, Colorado for the inaugural ABA Lawyer Retreat. Sessions will include “Crucial Conversations,” “Design Thinking” and “Adding EQ to Your JD.” There is even an “Improv for Attorneys” offering – taught by a former attorney and professional improv instructor from San Diego – where attendees will practice seeing things from different perspectives and stepping outside their comfort zones.

Off-hours, participants can enjoy hiking, fly-fishing, ziplining, swimming and ATV tours in the gorgeous Rockies.

The thread connecting all the events: empowering the whole lawyer.

“We want to help lawyers learn how to achieve this experience through an interactive and collaborative retreat,” says the website for the retreat. “One where attendees will not only listen to information, but through experiential learning, walk away with practical tools to immediately implement in their professional practice and personal life.”

We reached out to attorney Katy Goshtasbi – a retreat co-chair, along with Jayne R. Reardon, Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism – to learn more about this program. Here are excerpts from that interview:

Improvement, Empowerment, Interaction

  • The inspiration for the program. “In my daily work I noticed that attorneys were not benefitting as much from traditional conferences where a speaker just talked at the audience. So we decided an experiential program, where the attendees got to ‘do’ and ‘apply’ the material to themselves, instead of just listen, was better use of the attendees’ very busy time and more useful.”
  • The thought leaders behind the retreat. “I had a brilliant network of people to work with in creating this program. Our Steering Committee is comprised of reputable lawyers from all disciplines with a common vision of providing attorneys nationwide with learning that makes a true difference.”
  • Innovation in legal education and training. “New approaches are needed because as we evolve as lawyers and humans, we learn differently, and different modalities toward learning are necessary. We have to experiment to find the right fit.”
  • Why the entire office is invited to attend. “Staff are part of the law firm and important to the culture and brand of any size firm. Thus, including staff in learning builds a strong firm of any size. How can lawyers encourage teamwork/teambuilding in their practices? One easy way is to include all members of their team and regularly stop and assess the topic and bring in support to teach them new things.”
  • Some things lawyers can do right now to create more client-centered practices. “The best thing firms can do is to stop and really dissect why they are in business and what they truly achieve at the end of the day for the client AND for themselves. When they answer these questions genuinely, they will see the referral base grow because current clients will feel the difference and recall and refer the firm more often. I promise.”
  • Staying competitive in a rapidly evolving marketplace. “Firms need to stop and assess what truly makes them unique and different and stop focusing on what their competition is doing. There’s only so much time in a day and focusing on what others are doing isn’t always the best use of time.”
  • What can attendees expect to come away with? “My biggest goal is to have attendees walk away with new ways of seeing their law practice and their own personal lives and implementing strategies to get them to a place of growth and contentment.”

Katy Goshtasbi is JD and Founder of Puris Consulting and creator of the Emotional Resonance Factor program.

Register for the ABA Lawyer Retreat or learn more here.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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