Oct 29, 2018
In this episode, I am excited to have Brittany Allison on to talk about how to find joy as a diverse attorney and how to pursue a career you will enjoy. Brittany is a corporate associate at Greenberg Traurig. She focuses on mergers and acquisitions and strategic transactions in healthcare and private equity.
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Brittany Allison: [00:00:03] For me, my mindfulness practice has been very helpful for identifying the feeling that I'm having, and the next step from there is why am I feeling that way.
Intro: [00:00:18] Welcome to The Resilient Lawyer podcast. In this podcast, we have meaningful, in-depth conversations with lawyers, entrepreneurs, and change agents. We offer tools and strategies for creating a more joyful and satisfying life. And now your host, Jeena Cho.
Jeena Cho: [00:00:41] Hello my friends, thanks for being with us today. I am so happy to have Brittany Allison. She is a corporate associate at Greenberg Traurig. She focuses on mergers and acquisitions and strategic transactions in healthcare and private equity. Today we're going to chat about how she finds that sense of meaning and purpose in life, and also her experience as a corporate attorney.
Before we get into the interview, if you haven’t listened to my last bonus episode go back and check it out. I shared a 6 minute guided meditation practice to help you let go of stress and anxiety. It’s a preview for my new course, Mindful Pause. So often I hear lawyers say that they know they should practice mindfulness, but they just don’t have the time. And I always tell lawyers, just start with six minutes or .1 hour. Of all the hours that you dedicate to your clients, work, and others, don’t you deserve to have at least .1 hour to yourself? Mindful Pause is designed for lawyers like you, to fit into your hectic schedule. Think of it like taking your daily vitamins to boost your well-being. Head on over to JeenaCho.com to learn more, or check it out in the show notes. And with that, here's Brittany. Brittany, welcome to the show.
Brittany Allison: [00:02:00] Thank you so much for having me Jeena.
Jeena Cho: [00:02:02] So let's just start by having you give us a 30-second introduction of who you are and what you do.
Brittany Allison: [00:02:09] So as you mentioned I'm currently a transactional attorney at the law firm Greenberg Traurig. I focus on health care and private equity mergers acquisitions and other transaction and I came from a Healthcare Regulatory background. I've worked in-house as well as in law firms. I'm licensed in New York, Washington, D.C. and most recently in Florida. As far as who I am. I'm someone who values both my professional and my outside of work life. I'm someone who strives to make thoughtful and purposeful choices and to pursue success but also happiness and fulfillment. I'm also a diverse attorney and a child of immigrants and for fun I enjoyed venture traveling and being outdoors.
Jeena Cho: [00:02:54] Kerry started by chatting about how you go about intentionally creating a career that you enjoy that aligns with your skill sets and also gives you that sense of purpose and value. And that's a really big question. So I guess maybe to start you know at what point did you decide you know this is important to me I'm not going to just let life happen to me but I'm going to be very intentional about how I build a practice that I enjoy. I feel like a lot of lawyers don't really give much thought to that.
Brittany Allison: [00:03:29] I think that's exactly right. And I think for me when I was working at a previous law firm it was it was really kind of apparent that we should be thinking about moving forward in business development. You know how we can improve upon our careers. And it just it just kind of hit me that I should really be looking a little bit deeper and if I'm starting to have those conversations professionally I'm starting to have those conversations internally. I really wanted to make sure that I was moving in a direction that I wanted to take my career and that I felt like my career would with my personality with my skills that I would really be able to add value and I could see the kind of the career that I that I had in mind and take the direction.
Jeena Cho: [00:04:20] Q I would say more specifically about what that process looks like. Like I think it's one thing to say you know I have decided that having a career that enjoys is important to me. And so I've made those things a priority. But on a day to day or let's say a week to week or even month to month Hector like what doesn't. How does that look?
Brittany Allison: [00:04:43] So I started the process really just kind of making the LIST mentally and then making actual physical with of what I enjoyed what I did not enjoy as much the things that interested me the thing that excited me about law practice and some of the things that I was doing that I thought were purposeful and meaningful but did not really fit who I was or where I thought I could add the most value. So you know it's kind of an ongoing process and it is for me a day to day or week to week process to really kind of sit down with myself for maybe an hour a week depending on how busy I am on home and just say just check in with myself and recognize those feelings when for example I'm really excited when a deal closes or.
You know I really feel like I use my skills for effective communication throughout the field. It's a process of self-reflection that I think you know can is important to take the time out of your week to sit down and check in with yourself on those things and have that information where you want to take your practice going forward I think we don't always take the time out. You know the time out to sit down with ourselves and go over the things that we're doing sometimes it can kind of be like you're on one of those moving walkways and you just know where you're supposed to be going and you may have metrics for how you can get there and how you can succeed on the path that you're on. But you don't always take the time out to say is this the path I want to be on. Is this something that I'm actually enjoying is this something that I can actually see in terms of a direction from my career or am I just on that moving walkway.
Jeena Cho: [00:06:41] You know I often hear from bank law attorneys especially those that are more junior and I think sometimes it can be difficult to find that sense of meaning in them. Especially when you're on a big team and you're working on this huge mega deal so your portion of what you're working on might seem very mundane. Then it's hard to even see the whole picture in terms of how your work contributes to the larger project. So I'm curious if that's an experience that you've had and also how you go about finding meaning and you know in some of the more grindy air projects and I think a lot of lives just like that you know it's just very like grindy.
Brittany Allison: [00:07:28] Yeah I mean there is certain kind of days or weeks or months of the project where you may not feel kind of as inspired. But I think the way that you keep that motivation going at least for me I'll be kind of my personal experience is I really love the feeling of being on a team and reaching that finish point and kind of knowing that that's coming. And I think part of finding a practice that that fits your personality is you enjoy a lot of those day to day. And you also are able because you're so interested because you feel like it's a great fit you're able to engage kind of outside of the day today.
So you know you're able to take a few minutes out sit down with the shareholder and talk about when you think we'll get to closing or what do you think are some of the big issues that are still on the table or how do you think we're going to be able to solve this problem. Even if you're not the person doing that even if you're are a person, for example, drafting that language or bringing a deal over the finish line if you're engaged and you enjoy what you're doing you know there are those opportunities. And for me, I want to get for that kind of conversation. And you know that that certainly helps me to be motivated and to keep in perspective that. Sure I might not have the biggest role on a certain transaction but I have a role and I'm happy to be part of that team. And I'm interested to learn more about it.
Jeena Cho: [00:09:17] Either things that you do outside of work that also gives you that sense of meaning and purpose in life. I also have I know for me at least for the first at least a decade it was just all like kind of work. And as I got older I was like OK. Like I can't expect to work to fill all of those needs that I am a multidimensional human being and not all those other needs. You know creativity or you know that I have to have a sort of hobbies and other things that I do outside of work. So I'm curious how you balance that.
Brittany Allison: [00:09:59] Sure absolutely. I'm a nature lover. I recently moved back to Florida and South Florida. I love going to the beach. I love hiking. My last trip was to Colorado to go hiking kayaking in stand up paddleboard. I love getting outside I love being in nature. I also really love spending time with my friends my family and my partner and a lot of times most of the time those conversations have nothing to do with law practice you know and there were other things that we're interested in. So there definitely and know as I mentioned kind of at the beginning I really value my time outside of the office as well. Kind of focus on the focus on some other things and focus on my personal relationship.
Jeena Cho: [00:10:50] And they will sort of wrap things up but this question. And you know any now on top of the interview you mentioned that you identify yourself as a first attorney and I am one as well. Now I'm curious how you go about finding your voice or finding that sense of belonging or you know you're just your confidence is that they burst attorney or if you have advice for other papers attorneys out there.
Brittany Allison: [00:11:17] I thought a lot about this one because you know you hear a lot about things like impostor syndrome. And I've certainly experienced kind of some of those attacks. And I think everyone goes through moments of insecurity. So I think kind of my advice here is twofold. If you're worried that you can't really relate to someone else you know in a professional environment I have found that ironically enough focusing on the work really helps to start a conversation. So I may not be able to find commonality with someone else kind of just on the outset but I can only talk to that person about their practice.
[00:12:06] I can always talk to that person about what it is they're doing what it what it is they're interested in and you know if it's someone you interact with more closely or let's say you're on a transaction with you know you can talk to them about that. And I found that that helps to really open up the conversation and start to build that relationship. You know if you're a little bit nervous that you may not have a lot of things in common with that other individual I've just always found that helpful to come from that place because certainly you can both talk about what you're doing there you know and where you want to take your careers and kind of my second piece of advice. There also is too when you have those willing to really focus on your relationships outside of war. You know I have a strong support system to my friends and my family and my partner. And that really helps to keep things in perspective because a lot of times you know if you're at a big firm or here as an organization and there's a there's great sophisticated work being done. Sometimes you do worry.
[00:13:16] And my goodness the people but you can always count on our mom to remind you that you're better than she is. I mean at home and there you know you might be kind of a small fish in a big pond at work but outside of work people can remind you know you're actually great at this or you're actually really interested in and don't get kind of caught up in that environment where you're surrounded by people who are good at it because there's a larger environment where there are other people who you know have not focused on that don't have the same skills that and a lot of times they think you're great you know and I've just been able to anchor myself to my support system outside of work and also and also internally you know I had mentioned before when we spoke previously I believe in meditation a big proponent of meditation. I've found that it's helpful in stressful situations and I have found that help as a practice as a way of just checking in with yourself and talking to yourself and building yourself up when you need it. Those are really kind of the two pieces of advice I would have to give Yeah.
Jeena Cho: [00:14:38] I mean I certainly found I curious to hear how it's landed for you is having a regular mindfulness practice gets me out of that really self-destructive and negative way of thinking where I'm constantly thinking like oh I'm not good enough I'm not good enough or I'm not good as these other people especially in like a law firm you know there isn't often that tremendous amount of positive feedback. You know the people in your team might think you're great but they do not necessarily go around and you know consciously tell you how great they are. So I at least for me I found that I was able to when those voices pop up stepped back a little bit and say Is this objectively true or is this just my inner narrator or my inner critic talking and often it was that voice and that you know if I could truly sort of objectively look at the entirety of all the work that I've done and taken the good with the bad and because we had both rights that often I sort of underestimate the good work that I do and places where I do shine like those things just don't matter. It's almost like while I just got lucky by winning that motion or I just got you to know like it wasn't my own doing that. But to that result, versus if something goes wrong then I take it very personally then it's like oh it's because I messed up that we've lost that motion. So you know when you from your mindfulness practice how that helps you to shape it. You know just sort of working with the like in our voices.
Brittany Allison: [00:16:18] For me my mindfulness practice has been very helpful for identifying the feeling I'm having. I kind of figured out a couple years ago that I wasn't so great at that, to begin with. You know I could tell I wasn't feeling great but I couldn't really articulate deeper what was going on. And my practice has really helped me to be able to identify right. It's what I'm feeling and kind of the next step from there is why I am feeling that way. Because as you mentioned things can certainly snowball when you get into that kind of negative mindset and you know all of a sudden everything that it was that is your fault. I eat a lot of really take the time to say what am I actually feeling what is actually making me feel that way. And as you mentioned is that true. You know. Is that really true?
[00:17:18] And remind me that there's a bigger perspective here. Maybe I made a mistake but maybe I did kind of saying well you know and maybe I'm not you know another big one for me is kind of dealing with learning curves. We don't all know everything you know. And I switched practice areas and there are certain things that I have to learn and I spend a little more time on the catch up to understand slowly just by nature of the fact that some of my colleagues have been doing it you know their whole careers and it's not something I engaged with as much. You know before my current position but I do give myself space to kind of remind myself. All right I may be learning that. Or you know trying to get better at that one thing. But you know what I think been great is the thriller thing. And I think those things provide value in these three ways. And even further I'm going to see if I can find opportunities to contribute that value. So that I feel like a meaningful member of the team even if there's one way. One place where I feel a little weak is not as strong as the rest of the team. I'm going to find a place where I know I can help push us along. And I think that that's part of the mindfulness practice that's part of what self-reflection practice where you just start to really identify the things that you feel like you're really good at or you are uniquely good at or you. You bring to a team.
Jeena Cho: [00:19:12] Well Brittany, it was so nice having you here. One final question for you. Before I let you go, the name of this podcast is called The Resilient Lawyer. What does it mean to be a resilient lawyer to you?
Brittany Allison: [00:19:25] Ah, that’s a very good question. To me, a resilient lawyer is someone who takes ownership of their career who is overcoming obstacles or challenges or naysayers whatever the case may be to pursue all the opportunities that they're interested in and build a career that is engaging and fulfilling for that individual. And where that individual can also provide value.
Jeena Cho: [00:19:55] Brittany thank you so much. I so enjoyed our conversation.
Brittany Allison: [00:20:00] Thank you so much, Jeena for having me.
Closing: [00:20:13] Thanks for joining us on The Resilient Lawyer podcast. If you've enjoyed the show, please tell a friend. It's really the best way to grow the show. To leave us a review on iTunes, search for The Resilient Lawyer and give us your honest feedback. It goes a long way to help with our visibility when you do that, so we really appreciate it. As always, we'd love to hear from you. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and look forward to seeing you next week.