Life happens. No matter how carefully we plan our schedules, something just might happen to us or one of our colleagues which upends everything.

I had always assumed that I would be able to prepare myself for such events, and, being a tough, rational person, that I could move on reasonably quickly. Now I realize differently. My dad died last week, and I see so much more now.

I write this not to bring you into my personal mourning, but instead to remind us all of some of the important things we need to remember as we go forward with our lives and our careers.

From what I have seen, there is not one lawyer, not one clerk, not one judge who won’t understand when it’s necessary to hit the pause button for as long as you need. Just ask. We need to keep that pause button ready, not just for death, but for the births celebrated by our associates, the illnesses of our staff and colleagues’ family members, and for life’s other major events. There is nothing that we want to do today that cannot wait for tomorrow.

There are plenty of shoulders to lean on. The kindness of family and friends is manifold, but that support for some may not be enough. That is when it’s time for some professional assistance. In fact, you are already paying for it. If you even have a question about whether you need help for depression, substance abuse or grief, you should call Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers at (800) LCL-0210 (or online at LCL provides screening, some direct services and support groups, all confidentially, of course.

I had thought I would write an early New Years resolution column, beating the pack by several weeks with some clichés of my own. My brilliant wit is lacking, but let me share a few basic notions.
I’ve already mentioned LCL. Make 2008 the year of the mental tune-up. Face any demons that are slowing you down, professionally or personally. Reach for a new level of professional satisfaction and personal happiness. Make some bold, life-changing decisions which you have been contemplating. If you need help to make those decisions, reach out and get it.

Market yourself! If you are not marketing yourself and your firm every day, you are not marketing enough. Resolve to find new ways to find new clients, and spend some time every day (yes, daily) following your marketing plan. While you are at it, fix your Web site. A decent, professional site is just a few marketing dollars around the corner.

Educate yourself! When is the last time you attended or taught a continuing legal education program? Massachusetts is just one of a few states in which CLE is not mandatory. That does not mean you should not take advantage of such offerings to bolster your professional development. If you are confident that you are already expert in your field, then you should be teaching others.
And yes, start exercising and lose some weight! It’s good for the mind and the body. I’ll see you in the gym.

Help us do our job. The MBA has a broad mission, running from improving our system of justice to providing member benefits. If you are a wise member, you are taking advantage of your membership to the extent that it pays for itself, literally. What would make your membership more valuable? Please let me know. E-mail me at [e-mail dwhite].

Please enjoy the holiday season. Take some extra time to be with your loved ones. Cheers!