Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Bio

A couple years ago I did a presentation at the annual meeting for a legal organization. Much to my surprise I was asked back to do a Part Two to my talk, this time at next month's Spring Seminar. I was excited that my idea of thinking outside the box in defending cases was a concept my fellow colleagues wanted to learn more about.

I had a lot of ideas for my new talk. I sat down with friends, mentors, colleagues and before I knew it my outline was complete. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I had put together a presentation I could be proud to put my name on.

But putting my name on it turned out to be the biggest challenge to my presentation. Along with turning in my outline, I had to provide something I dread...


 Ooh bios...I hate even saying the word. I despise drafting bios of myself. The "what to write to make these people think I deserve to be giving a talk or writing an article" actually gives me much more stress than the actual presentation or article itself. Whether its the blurb on our firm website, or a couple sentences at a presentation before I go on... I struggle with the "Here's who I am" to go along with my name.

It's not that I don't know who I am or am not proud of my accomplishments, its the narrowing down 32 years into a few sentences and gearing those sentences toward a specific audience that makes it difficult for me. Maybe the problem I have is that when I look at myself in the mirror I see myself as a Mom long before I see myself as an attorney. To borrow from my best friend's blog from yesterday...I see myself in the pink fuzzy yoga pants before the three piece suit.  I'm a Mom who's life happened to put me into the working field and led me to a career I am passionate about.

So I did my best and drafted my bio, rolling my eyes and gritting my teeth as I typed.  Of course I put in my, "oh how I was wish it was longer" list of career accomplishments....graduation with honors, my partnership, my positions with legal organizations. But as I read about "Legal Mandi", I wasn't happy with it. It wasn't complete. How I can write a "here's who I am" without mentioning the main part of my life??

So I decided another sentence was needed: "Outside of the legal world, Mandi is a mother of three and a co-creator of JD Moms a blog about balancing babies and billable hours".  I smiled. Yes I knew they didn't want to hear that I was a boo-boo fixer, crock pot chef, bad dream fighter, mini-van chauffeur, agent, teacher, social director, housekeeper and a best friend to three of the greatest children in the world...but just mentioning them in a small way made me feel better. And I threw in a shout out to the blog to show my personal life had some sort of relevance to my legal world. 

I had doubts I drafted my bio correctly. And since I'm a avid perfectionist, I had to get a 2nd opinion. So, I sent my bio over to one of my partners, a woman who not only is the attorney I strive to be, but also a Mom I seek advice from, and a friend. She's always the one I use as my sounding board at my firm.

She responded quickly. "Looks good...but most of the time they don't put in the 'outside the legal world' stuff. But, it's up to you".

It's up to me? Of course as usual she was right. This was a statement on how I wanted to be viewed. And yes, she was right that most of the time attorneys stick to the legal world bios with the occasional "a die-hard (insert sports team here) fan" or "a try-to-be good golfer" to gain a smile or clap from the audience.

So I sat at my computer debating much longer than I should for a 3 sentence bio. To include the complete picture or stick with one-dimensional Legal Mandi ??? That was the question. I decided to go with the complete Mandi in my bio and include my outside the legal world comment. Ok so the fact I am Mom to three who strives for balance may not make my audience believe I am the best qualified to give them tips on freshening up age old trial tactics...but I felt better. As I hit send and turned in my bio I was proud of myself. I didn't follow the norm, I chose to introduce myself in a complete way. They wanted ME to give the here I am...on my terms.


1 comment:

  1. It's an interesting conundrum, isn't it? As the only female in an all-male litigation group, I always feel the urge to talk about my kids or the "Mom" me instead of always playing the neutral-gendered "Attorney" me. Usually, though, I end up repressing the mommy side of me to fit in and keep myself from being any more different from my male colleagues than I already am. It's great that you have a female colleague who is also a mom as support (even though you ultimately didn't agree with her advice). Wish I could say the same!