M(erger) – We made it!

Well, day one is a wrap. The email worked. We had a nice welcome breakfast across the firm. Talked a little strategy. And got back to work.

Marty’s letters are ready to merge, print, and mail. Michael Newman was interviewed this morning by Business Insurance on a new California law. He wins the prize for the first legacy partner to be quoted in the press.

It was a good day.

And we got some new toys.


M(erger) – minus 1 day: Ready or … we’re ready!

Well, the time is here. It is now. Today is it … well, actually tomorrow. But the switch is being flicked sometime between when I hit send on this post later today, and midnight (CT). As a whole, the mood in the firm and amongst those I’ve spoken with is great. It’s exciting. New things are coming. Sure, new is scary for some … but it’s still exciting, and everyone is focusing on looking forward, and not holding on to the past. The best part of doing this is that we’re not doing it alone. We’re all going into it together.

I will admit, I am a bit teary-eyed and nostalgic. I have worked at Barger & Wolen longer than I have ever worked anywhere else before now: seven years; which is a gazillion in legal marketing years. I will be tossing collateral out this week, and dumping old files. I will take those proposals off the shelf and archive them for future reference, including the ones I had just received to redo the website (we were in the midst of finalizing the design contracts and action plan when the preliminary meetings on whether or not to begin the merger conversation began).

So while I am excited for some of the new things that will hit my desk tomorrow, I am going to be gentle on myself as I start to let some of the other things go.

Here’s what’s on tap for today:

  • Staying a bit late to drop the something-somethings off on everyone’s desk.
  • Checking those email addresses. Of course, mine is wrong (better mine then an attorney).
  • Looks like it’s cake day. Happy birthday all you September people.
  • I am stopping everything right now and filling out my new payroll info. Getting paid is a priority.
  • Oh, crap. How’d that fall through the cracks??
  • Party at 4:00 to honor our past and celebrate our future.
  • Get Marty his letters for signature and mailing (Update: Yeah. Didn’t happen. Tomorrow is another day).

Tip: Commemorate the past, but embrace the future.

M(erger) – Minus 2 Days: Everything will be all right

Well, no turning back now. The switch will be flipped Wednesday morning, ready or not. I suppose we’re ready enough.

When you think about how quickly these mergers take place — from announcement to going live — 100% integration is not possible on day one. We have spent the past couple months prioritizing what needed to get done: pre-announcement; by October 1; from October 1 to October 31 (to produce the first set of bills); as well as what can/do we have to hold off on until a later date.

Some of the “delays” (I use that word very lightly) have to do with timing — there are only so many hours in a day, and days in a month — and some have to do with system upgrades that have to occur (which is why my e-mail address will have a little something extra added); some have to do with when contracts expire; and some have to do with cultural integrations: we can only throw so much at these people at once.

So anyone from Barger or Hinshaw reading this: Take it easy on yourselves. Seeing what you have done these past couple months, you have done all that you can to prepare, anticipate needs, and check items off those long check lists.

It will be okay. As long as the e-mails go through, and the phones are answered, we’re all good.

Now that everything that can be done is done, I am back to yoga at lunch. I’ve been skipping it and missing it. Have I mentioned that I am ready to get my normal back?

Here’s what’s on tap for today:

  • Woo hoo. I have letterhead and envelopes. Time to prep Marty’s first mailing.
  • Tackle a couple items in my employee paperwork pile.
  • Get in my final Barger expense reimbursement for month end.
  • Finalize the Barger history for the website.
  • Get that last practice group description in for the website.
  • Yup. Still getting bios back. But we’ve had great compliance.

Tip: Nothing is ever 100% perfect behind the scenes for any major event (be it a client CLE, a conference, an office move, or a merger). As long as the client service and experience are spot on (the bills are correct, emails go through), anything we have to do to make it work is what we have to do to make it work. So take a deep breath. Everything will be all right in the end.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


M(erger) – minus 5 days: It’s a cultural marriage.

As a “culinary Jew” (my family shows up for the food), I was out of the office yesterday so I could join my extended family for lunch. They came from synagogue. We came from the Westside.

This side of my family are my mom’s paternal relatives. These are my second cousins. Growing up we got together twice a year as a clan: Rosh Hashanah and Chanukkah, along with funerals, and selected bar mitvah’s and weddings (depending on how close our parents were as first cousins).

Growing up, it seemed to me that there were a hundred or more of us at these family parties. What I remember most is the warmth and comfort I found there, and, of course, the food. My grandmother’s kugle, Aunt Sophie’s mendel bread (which I do have the recipe somewhere in my files). There was security in those family traditions.

As I sat around a table with some of my second cousins yesterday, we lamented the passing of one of our parents’ cousins, and how a couple others did not come due to personal excuses (not reasons, excuses, yeah, we gossiped). I couldn’t help but think about how special those years were when my grandparents generation was still alive, especially in light of how my mother’s generation is aging and passing away.

As we were leaving, my cousin thanked me for taking off work to be with them. Of course. I don’t know how long this magic will last, and I want to capture as much of it as I can.

So where am I going here?

Last week, sitting in the conference room going over the new benefits and paperwork, we began by introducing ourselves and how long we have been with the firm. With my seven years as marketing director, I was one of the newbies. And this is across all departments, from the attorneys, to the office service representatives. I have worked in enough law firms and corporations to know that, especially in today’s business climate, this is very unique. This is a part of our culture. It is a culture that began with Mr. Barger, and continues today.

Simply because our signage, business cards, and log-ins will change next Wednesday, it doesn’t mean we won’t be bringing aspects of our culture with us, because this is a part of who we, as a firm, are.

Like any marriage, or a move, now is a great time to let go of some things that didn’t work, embrace new ideas and ways of doing things, and learn to blend together things from each firm that are great. This goes for both firms, as well as individual departments, and people.

So what’s on tap today:

  • Firm history written and sent to a couple partners for input and feedback.
  • Redirect of website ready to happen.
  • Shipping a little something-something out to the offices for Wednesday morning.
  • Getting the blogs ready for the transition (logo, adding Hinshaw to the authors, etc).
  • Finishing off a couple practice group descriptions for the new website.
  • Pulled all the current bios off the website and archived them because, yes, someone will ask next Wednesday, “Can I see my old bio?”
  • Yes. I am still herding bios, but making progress.

Tip: Where there is magic, don’t let that go. Identify it. Embrace it. Share it.

M(erger) – minus 7 days: Yikes! That went by fast.

7Wow. Only seven more days until we go live. In seven days I’ll have a new e-mail, new business cards, a new company. I’ll have to update my online professional life, fill out lots of new paperwork, and traverse a new way of doing my day-to-day activities.

I’m excited. However, letting go of anything is difficult even for us risk and change-comfortable GenXers.

The marketing department is always in a great position to help those who might not be as comfortable with all the changes. And there are a lot. And the longer you are with a company the harder it is to let anything go.

This truly is a time to drop the rock of old ideas. There is no reason to carry them around moving forward.

So what’s on tap for today:

  • Have to pull the Jew card for Rosh Hashanah. Happy New Year.
  • Took another assessment tool for LMA. In addition to long walks in the rain, I enjoy developing meaningful relationships, fixing stuff that’s broken, a desire to know more, and am intrigued with what makes you unique.
  • Marty’s project is on press. He’s happy.
  • Wow. That’s a stack of paperwork.
  • Correct my name in the new system.
  • Track down those last few bios I haven’t received back.
  • Staff, partner and associate meetings on the new benefits. As a person who likes to know the rules, I love meetings like this.

M(erger) – minus 9 days: Catching up on my e-mails from Friday

Sorry for no post on Friday. I was fully engaged in the SmithBucklin Leadership Institute where our focus was on what we learned, and how we were going to pass it on.

There were four domains that we explored during the course of the six-month program: Who You Are; What You Do; What You Inspire; What You Enable.

In our last session we had to present a leadership case study; write about someone who inspired us; present two examples of what we were going to take away; prepare our eulogy; and how we planned to pass it on. Yeah, no shortage of homework this time around.

Who inspired me? Steve Barrett. My former boss and mentor. He has always shown me through action and deed that he has the courage to do the right thing, even when it is a risk to him personally.

What did I take away? Really looking at how I can make conversations a safe place for dialog and sharing; and, to become more intentional in cultivating meaningful relationships.

What did my eulogy unveil: I have some goals for my career, and a pathway in front of me.

How do I plan to pass it on? In the short run, it is about integrating my partners and attorneys into the Hinshaw culture. Long term? I haven’t written that out yet.

I need to publicly thank Henry Givray and Dale West for leading such an incredible class and experience. I have made 17 new friends, found a new mentor, and have begun a new journey in my career and life. And, I cannot thank LMA enough for investing in me to attend the Institute.

So, what’s on tap for today:

  • New practice area assignments are done.
  • Preparing for the website redirect.
  • Speaking of the blogs … lots of links to redirect.
  • New logo with tagline is done. Sent over to upload on the blogs for 10/1.
  • Getting all the bios and service areas back. Following up on those who haven’t turned them in yet.

M(erger) – Minus 13 Days: Intuitive v. Intentional

imageThe Sports Dude and I are sitting on a plane right now headed to Chicago. I have had the privilege for the past six months of attending and participating in TheĀ SmithBucklin Leadership Institute, which is culminating this weekend, and we get to bring our +1.

If it wasn’t for the merger, and all the work that took place behind the scenes prior to the merger being announced, I would have written on my experience in the Institute more.

In short, I don’t think I could have provided the assistance to my partners without the lessons and skills I have learned. I have specifically employed new techniques, avoided some pitfalls, and smoothed over some ruffled feathers, all because of my new leadership skills.

As I finish up my final homework assignments, and prepare my final presentations, I am struck most by how prior to the Institute I did a lot of these things, and I knew a lot of these things, but it was instinctive, or by intuition. I had never been taught, or learned it. I picked it up along the way through good examples and incredible mentors, specifically Frank Moon and Steve Barrett; incredible friends and colleagues, like Catherine Alman MacDonagh; and, to be completely candid, some really shitty situations and interactions with some really crappy human beings.

What I am walking away with most from my experience these past six months is a heightened awareness of who I am as a leader, and what that means and looks like within the legal industry, my professional association, my job, with my team, my HOA, Girl Scouts, my family, and the list can go on and on.

If I could sum it all up: I have become more intentional, and less dependent on my intuition and instincts.

So what’s on tap for today? Continue reading


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