NOTA BENE, Latin for "note well." Each month N.B. features ethics, professionalism and board developments.

December, 2019

Attorney Mental Health: Moving from Surviving to Thriving


In this first of a two-part series, Ms. Leah Rosa, MAC, NCC, LPC, addresses the topic of Attorney Mental Health: Moving from Surviving to Thriving. This month, Leah provides statistical information regarding depression, anxiety and substance use within the legal profession and the impact of lawyer mental health issues on individual attorneys and the profession as a whole.


In the second segment of Attorney Mental Health: Moving from Surviving to Thriving, Ms. Leah Rosa, MAC, NCC, LPC, discusses the six dimensions of attorney well-being. She also offers strategies for achieving and maintaining well-being.

Leah Rosa is a native New Orleanian with a passion for helping others. She earned a Masters of Health Science in Rehabilitation Counseling from LSU Health Science Center in 2000 and has worked in the mental health field for over 15 years. She holds certifications as a Master Addiction Counselor, is a Nationally Certified Counselor and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the States of Louisiana and Texas.

Leah previously served as the Clinical Director of the Louisiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP), where she provided clinical oversight to all JLAP programs.

She currently works in her private practice, Leah Rosa Counseling and BrainCore NOLA providing counseling, consulting and neurofeedback services. In addition, she is the Clinical Partner for Assurance Recovery Monitoring providing drug screening and post-treatment monitoring.

November, 2019

Hearing Committee Member Spotlight: Frederick B. King

Fred King

After a chance meeting with Chief Disciplinary Counsel Charles Plattsmier at a CLE seminar in Shreveport, Fred King decided to volunteer as a hearing committee member for the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board. At the time, Fred saw volunteering as an opportunity to help the legal profession improve its public image. After serving as a hearing committee member for several years, Fred believes the discipline system is “meticulous” in pursuing one of the goals of lawyer discipline – preserving the integrity of the profession.

Fred brings a diverse professional background to his work as a volunteer adjudicator. Prior to attending law school, he practiced as a consultant and project electrical engineer. After graduating from law school, he served as a District Executive for the Boy Scouts of America. He then served briefly as an assistant district attorney in the Fourth Judicial District before entering the private practice of law. Then, after practicing for more than a decade with a Monroe law firm, Fred opened his own solo practice. He currently focuses on estate work and business transactions.

Fred is a veteran of the United States Air Force. He has been married to his wife for almost sixty years. They have two children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

October, 2019

Board Member Spotlight: Wendy E. W. Giovingo

Wendy E. W. Giovingo

Wendy Giovingo volunteered as a hearing committee member because she believes that the legal profession should regulate itself and do so fairly. She also was persuaded by her neighbor and mentor, the late Dennis Hennen, to serve as a hearing committee member. Wendy’s interest in serving in the disciplinary system further stems from her prior experience on the LSBA's Client Assistance Fund Committee. This work allowed her to see firsthand the financial havoc that clients undergo when a lawyer converts their funds.

After serving as a hearing committee member for several years, Wendy was nominated in 2019 by the LSBA to serve as a Disciplinary Board member and was appointed to serve on the Board's Administrative Committee by the Louisiana Supreme Court. From her experiences as a hearing committee member and as a Board member, she has learned that the disciplinary system is much more complex that it appears from the outside. She believes that the structure of the system is designed "to provide discipline with grace and fairness while preserving the integrity of our profession" and notes that the system is implemented by professionals who want to see the legal profession maintain its ideals. She also believes that attorneys, just like non-attorneys, sometimes fall on hard times and make bad decisions, but that does not mean that they are bad people. An attorney who makes a misstep should suffer appropriate consequences but should be treated civilly and fairly. Her volunteer service allows her to contribute to these ideals.

Wendy is a partner in the law firm of Snellings, Breard, Sartor, Inabnett & Trascher, LLP in Monroe. Her practice area is primarily general litigation, with much of her work focusing on various aspects of family law. When asked to give five tips to young lawyers about practicing family law, she shared the following:

  1. Know the preferences of the judges before whom you practice regarding custody, so that you may advise your clients accordingly.
  2. Find a mentor and ask questions, discuss issues, and tag along with the mentor to watch motion hearings, trials, and depositions.
  3. Be honest and professional at all times. Keep your client’s interest in the forefront without getting emotionally involved.
  4. Choose your clients wisely. Always ask new clients what the other side is going to claim about them. You may find that the truth generally falls somewhere between your client’s version and the other side’s version.
  5. Find an individual qualified to assist you in setting up your accounting system, including checks and balances, and be vigilant about monitoring your accounts.

As to her career as a young lawyer, Wendy explains that when she was hired by Snellings Breard, she was fortunate to enter a firm full of partners and associates versed in a wide variety of practice areas. The firm allowed her to experience many practice areas to find which area matched her skills. Outside of the firm, Dennis Hennen was always ready to answer litigation and life-balance questions. Wendy also reports that the best advice she received as a young lawyer was from another mentor, Carrick Inabnett, who told her, "It is not a mistake if you can fix it."

Wendy Giovingo received her B.S and M.Ed. in Counseling from Texas Christian University and her J.D. from Loyola University School of Law. She currently serves on the board of directors of St. Frederick High School, St. Frederick High School Parents' Association, Strauss Youth Academy for the Arts, and The Southern Center for Women and Children. Wendy has been married to Frank Giovingo for 31 years, and they have three children, McKenna Rae, Caiden, and Donovan. These days, she spends all of her free time at her boys' school and sporting events and saying rosaries for her children's health, safety, and happiness.

September, 2019

Hearing Committee Member Spotlight: Timothy A. Maragos

Timothy A. Maragos

Tim Maragos was recruited to be a hearing committee member for the Disciplinary Board by an old friend. Tim thought volunteering would be a "good opportunity to experience a trial from a judge's perspective." That opportunity has turned into 13+ years of experience as a hearing committee member, during which time he has authored 19 hearing committee reports, issued numerous orders and rulings, and conducted so many days of hearing that they can be counted in weeks, if not months.

Upon reflecting on the qualities needed to be a hearing committee member, Tim believes it is critical for committee member to be willing to "make decisions based entirely on the law and evidence, without partiality to either the respondent or to the ODC.” Tim also believes it is important for lawyers litigating in a discipline proceeding to “recognize that their credibility … depends upon having the proper perspective over which issues are critical … and not get hung up on peripheral matters."

In addition to volunteering as a hearing committee member, Tim has served as a member of the LSBA House of Delegates and chaired its Public Information Committee. He is also a 2001 and 2006 recipient of the LSBA's President's Award.

Tim is employed by the corporate law department of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and works as a trial attorney in its Lafayette Staff Counsel Office. Prior to this, he worked for the Louisiana Department of Justice and in private practice, as well as a law clerk for two federal judges. Before becoming a lawyer, Tim worked as a newspaper reporter, public information officer and lobbyist for the City of Lafayette.

Tim is married to the former Madelyn Broussard and has two children and four grandchildren.

August, 2019

Hearing Committee Member Spotlight: Beau Sagona

Beau Sagona

Beau Sagona is a hard-working lawyer with a busy practice, yet he always manages to find time to give back to his profession. Currently, Beau serves as the Chair of a Hearing Committee for the Disciplinary Board. He found his way to the Board after meeting the Board's Administrator, Donna Roberts, during his service as chair of the Court's Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Committee. At the time, the MCLE Committee shared office space with the Board, and while attending to the business of the MCLE Committee, Beau was recruited to speak at the 2013 LADB Free CLE series. He agreed. Since that time, he has volunteered as a speaker for the series on three separate occasions, each time making five stops across the state to speak on topics that are often requested by attendees: estate planning and administration, and the division of retirement benefits in divorce.

In his current role as a Hearing Committee Chair, Beau recognizes that the legal profession enjoys the privilege of policing itself and so it is very important that the discipline system operate thoroughly, efficiently and fairly. Through his experience as a volunteer adjudicator he has been impressed with how much thought went into the design of the discipline system and how well the system operates. When lawyers find themselves before his committee, Beau believes "it is important first that they have the opportunity to defend themselves since their livelihood is at stake." Equally important, is his belief that lawyers who violate the ethical rules must be disciplined or removed, inasmuch as members of the public may be hurt. Moreover, he believes that bad behavior by individual lawyers reflects poorly on all lawyers and the legal profession.

In addition to his work for the Board and the MCLE Committee, Beau has served as President of the Jefferson Parish Bar Association, volunteered his time to The Pro Bono Project, written numerous articles and presented countless hours of continuing legal education. He is certified by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization as an Estate Planning and Administration Specialist and has been appointed by courts as a special master in divorce and succession proceedings and as an expert on multiple occasions regarding the valuation of retirement systems and benefits.

Beau obtained a B.S. in finance from LSU in 1987 and his law degree from LSU in 1990. He is a member of The Derbes Law Firm, LLC in Metairie, Louisiana. Beau is married to the former Gretchen Ann Grieshaber, with whom he has two sons, Daniel and Thomas.

In the News

Anderson Dotson

Congratulations to LADB Board Member Anderson O. Dotson III on his recent appointment to the position of Parish Attorney for East Baton Rouge Parish. Mr. Dotson had been serving as interim Parish Attorney since January 2019. At its meeting on August 14, 2019, the East Parish Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council voted unanimously to make the appointment permanent. Before being named interim Parish Attorney, Mr. Dotson had served for ten years in various positions within the Parish Attorney's office, including as City Prosecutor.

Mr. Dotson has volunteered his time in service to the LADB for twelve years, first serving as a Hearing Committee Member, and then as a Board Member since January 2014. Mr. Dotson served as Adjudicative Committee Chair in 2017 and Board Chairman in 2018. The Board wishes Mr. Dotson much success in his new position!

In Memoriam: Dennis W. Hennen

Dennis Hennen

We at the LADB mourn the loss of our friend and colleague, Dennis W. Hennen, who passed away in Monroe, Louisiana on August 14, 2019. Dennis was appointed as a LADB Board Member in 2004 and completed two terms. In 2009, Dennis served as the Board's Adjudicative Committee Chair, and at the time of his death, was serving as a member of the Board's Advisory Committee.

Dennis graduated from Tulane Law School in 1981 and practiced law for thirty-seven years in northeast Louisiana. He and his daughter, Laura B. Hennen, a current LADB Board Member, were law partners in the Monroe law firm of Hennen and Hennen, LLP. Active in his profession, he also served as the President of the Louisiana Association for Justice and on the Louisiana Supreme Court's Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct Regarding Class Actions and Committee on Complex Litigation. He was this year's recipient of the Louisiana Association for Justice Stalwart Award. Dennis was also active in the Monroe community, volunteering with his local food bank and charities dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence and homelessness.

Tributes to Dennis appropriately describe him as a superb lawyer and mentor, a dedicated husband, father, and son, a loyal friend and neighbor, and a gentleman. It was obvious to those who worked with him at the Board that he held a genuine reverence for the legal profession and respect for all involved in the disciplinary process. When he wrote Board recommendations or penned concurrences or dissents, he left no doubt where his sentiments lay. His opinions were always delivered after much thought and careful, compassionate deliberation. As ably put by one of his colleagues, during his time, Dennis made a difference. We will miss him very much.

Dennis is survived by his wife, Helen Pierce Hennen, his children, Laura and Tyler, his stepson, Richard Reeves and his wife, Tiffany Rash, his mother, Louise Banks Hennen, and two grandchildren.

July, 2019

Hearing Committee Member Spotlight: Vallan Corbett

Vallan Corbett

Vallan Corbett values honesty. This serves her well as a volunteer public member on one of the Board's hearing committees. Although she is not a lawyer, Vallan correctly identifies one of the core principles of the lawyer’s oath – honesty.

Vallan was born in St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated from Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. She met her husband at LSU and managed his dental office for 25 years.

Once she retired, Vallan began doing volunteer work, where she met a former deputy disciplinary counsel with ODC who encouraged her to volunteer as a hearing committee member for the Board. Vallan applied and was appointed by the Board in 2014.

Vallan believes that public members are important to the hearing committee's fact-finding duty. While the lawyers on the hearing committee may also have to contend with procedural or evidentiary issues, the public member's sole focus can be discovering "the whole truth, whatever it is."

Vallan is the proud mother of three children. She serves on a hearing committee in Baton Rouge.

2019 LADB FREE CLE Series: Charles "Chuck" Vann

Charles 'Chuck' Vann

The LADB welcomes Charles "Chuck" Vann to our panel of speakers for the 2019 LADB Free CLE Series. His presentation is entitled: The Business of Law. As the managing member and owner of Charles Vann Consulting, LLC., Chuck provides consulting services to lawyers to help them manage the business side of their law practices. His education and experience have given him the unique knowledge required to help lawyers plan and adopt business models that meet both their clients' legal needs and the lawyers' financial and income expectations.

Chuck holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Florida and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of North Florida (including graduate level work in counseling). Beginning in 1984, Chuck worked as the senior non-lawyer management officer for medium to large sized law firms in Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia and California. After gaining many years of experience and a thorough understanding of how law firms and lawyers operate, Chuck started his consulting business in 2010 concentrating on single practitioners and small to medium-sized firms. His areas of expertise include business development strategies, marketing implementation tactics and return-on-investment measuring, financial planning and reporting, administrative operational efficiencies, policies and procedures, practice and client profitability analyses, associate and staff compensation plans, and office space design and build-out.

Chuck is originally from Jacksonville and now resides on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay in Spanish Fort, Alabama. He is an avid reader of history and mysteries, enjoys golfing, watching football and baseball, and traveling. He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant and received an Honorable Discharge after serving six years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

He is very much a "people" person; he enjoys the learning process and the opportunity to help people reach their personal and professional goals.

June, 2019

ODC Spotlight: Angelina Marcellino

Angelina Marcellino

An important area for lawyer disciplinary enforcement is the review of trust account compliance so as to ensure that neither conversion nor commingling of client or third party funds takes place. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel is fortunate to have a highly skilled professional in Ms. Angelina Marcellino to perform the task of forensic auditing in the investigative and prosecutorial process. Angelina is a Certified Internal Auditor and a graduate in accounting from Louisiana State University. She first joined ODC as an administrative assistant in 2008 while she pursued her accounting degree. Upon graduation, she headed accounting efforts for a business in central Louisiana before joining an accounting firm. In 2015, she and her family chose to return to the Baton Rouge area, and she accepted an offer to return to ODC as the lead forensic auditor for that office.

Angelina leads ODC’s efforts to examine trust account overdraft incidents, track fund maintenance and distribution where conversion or commingling issues arise, and provide expert testimony in disciplinary hearings as a forensic auditor. She has helped develop high quality continuing education materials for the benefit of Louisiana lawyers, and where indicated, she has worked individually with attorneys to address trust account management deficiencies. She also plays an integral part in the monitoring of conditionally admitted attorneys, as well as those who have been placed on probation by order of the Supreme Court or the Disciplinary Board.

"Angelina has proven to be a tremendous asset for our office and for the lawyers of this state. She has a keen eye for trust accounting discrepancies as well as spotting poor management practices that allow for unintended trust accounting errors. She brings her considerable skill and talent to her work daily and has a way of making what might otherwise be difficult concepts more understandable and clear for the benefit of disciplinary counsel, respondent lawyers and hearing committee members," said Chief Disciplinary Counsel Charles Plattsmier.

May, 2019

Revisions to Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XIX

Effective May 15, 2019, the Louisiana Supreme Court made significant revisions to Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XIX ("Rule XIX"). Rule XIX governs matters that are investigated and prosecuted by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and adjudicated by the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, as well as other attorney regulation matters. Below is a synopsis of some of the changes to Rule XIX. For a complete review of the revisions, please see the Court’s orders (Rule XIX and Appendices). Additionally, the Formal Hearing Practice Guide published by the Board has been revised to reflect changes made to the litigation process.

  • For attorneys licensed for fifty years or more, the requirement to pay the annual disciplinary assessment ($235) has been eliminated. Rule XIX, §8(A).
  • Formal charge matters no longer proceed automatically from the hearing committee to the disciplinary board. Rather, a party must now file an objection to the committee’s report to seek the board’s review. Otherwise, the matter will be filed directly with the Court. Rule XIX, §11(E)(5), (F), and (G).
  • Revisions were made to Rule XIX, §11(H), to add clarity to the diversion process.
  • Under Rule XIX, §13(C), “Service of Other Papers” may be made by email.
  • Revisions were made to the discovery rule. Rule XIX, §15.
  • Revocation of conditional admission proceedings are now confidential. Rule XIX, §16(D).
  • The definition of “serious crime” was clarified. Rule XIX, §19(B).
  • A section was added to allow the Court to “conditionally reject” a petition for consent discipline. Rule XIX, §20(G).
  • A “permanent retirement” status and procedure was created. Rule XIX, §20.2.
  • The reciprocal discipline rule was amended to allow for the imposition of reciprocal discipline based upon an order of discipline from a federal disciplinary authority. Rule XIX, §21.
  • The board must now reject petitions and applications for reinstatement or readmission that do not comply with Rule XIX, §24(A-D). Rule XIX, §24(B).
  • Rule XIX, §26, was amended to require notice to clients, adverse parties, and other counsel if an attorney serves any active period of suspension.
  • Rule XIX, §27, was amended to create “receivership panel teams” that may be used when a lawyer is transferred to disability inactive status, suspended, disbarred, permanently disbarred, disappears, permanently retires, permanently resigns in lieu of discipline, or dies. (Rule XIX, Appendix D, was eliminated.)

2019 LADB FREE CLE Series: Adrejia Boutté Swafford

The LADB welcomes Adrejia Boutté Swafford to our panel of speakers for the 2019 LADB Free CLE Series. Her topic is entitled: Got Cyber Risk Insurance? Adrejia is a partner with Christovich & Kearney, LLP of New Orleans, LA. She is a native of New Iberia, LA. She practices commercial litigation, defending toxic tort, premises liability, personal injury, workers' compensation and other matters. She also offers corporate collection services and services on compliance related matters, including but not limited to, corporate consultation and litigation work based on cyber risk insurance issues. In addition, as a licensed Title Insurance Producer with C&K Title, LLC, Adrejia performs insurance title work and handles real estate closings.

Adrejia received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana and a Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center. She also earned a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in Business Law, with a Certificate in Compliance Studies. With a certification in Basic Mediation and Conflict Resolution, she has experience as a co-arbitrator in Baton Rouge City Court on issues of creditor/debtor and landlord/tenant disputes, as well as other related experience. Adrejia is a former judicial law clerk to the Honorable Madeline Jasmine in the 40th Judicial District Court for the Parish of St. John the Baptist and is a 2010 graduate of the Bryan Bell Metropolitan Leadership Forum, a program of the Committee for a Better New Orleans.

As a frequent speaker both locally and nationally, Adrejia has delivered talks on a range of topics, including cyber risk insurance, diversity (for Johns Hopkins Medical Center) and Innocence Project programs, among others. She has made presentations for a number of organizations, including the Legal Professionals of New Orleans, the Louisiana Diversity Council, the Louisiana Claims Association, Southern University Law Center, the Louisiana State Bar Association, and at the 2018 Cyber Security Atlanta Conference and Expo. She is active in a number of civic, professional and charitable organizations and has volunteered her time to the L.S.B.A Young Lawyers Division "Power Ties" and "Lawyers in the Classroom" programs, the M.D.A. Telethon Executive Lock-up, the Louisiana Center for Law and Civic Education "We the People" competition, Orleans Parish Teen Court, and other community organizations in the River Parishes area.

Adrejia resides in Baton Rouge with her husband, Richard Swafford, and their two cats: Mufasa "Fossie- Pants" and Greyjoy "Grapee."

March, 2019

Jordan D. Huck Serving as NCLDB President

The LADB is proud to announce that its Hearing Committee Counsel, Jordan D. Huck, is currently serving as the President of the National Council of Lawyer Disciplinary Boards, Inc. The NCLDB is a nonprofit corporation which serves as a national forum for attorney discipline adjudicative agencies to exchange information and ideas in carrying out their responsibilities and duties regarding attorney discipline. Jordan presided over NCLDB's annual meeting in January of this year and also participated in a panel discussion at the meeting addressing the topic of "Brady v. Maryland and Beyond: A Survey of Prosecutorial Misconduct." He will continue his service to the organization as Immediate Past President when his term as President ends later this year.

Jordan finds his participation in the NCLDB very beneficial to his work with the LADB. He notes that "NCLDB is a great resource, especially when confronting substantive or procedural issues that are new to the LADB. The administration and adjudication of lawyer regulatory matters is a very niche area, that is also relatively modern compared to other areas of law. Despite being established in 1990, the LADB is presented with novel issues from time to time. NCLDB provides quick and easy access to other agencies who may have confronted similar issues." When asked what he enjoys the most about his work with NCLDB, Jordan replies the comradery among the NCLDB membership, noting "as regulators, we don't have the most popular jobs within our profession, so it's nice to interact with others who do what I do day to day."

In his role as Hearing Committee Counsel for the LADB, Jordan provides legal counsel to the Board's hearing committees in adjudicative matters. He is also responsible for the training of the hearing committee members. He finds that his interaction with the committee members is very interesting and rewarding, as these volunteers, especially the public members, come from such a variety of backgrounds and professions. He reports that getting to know and learning from this diverse group of individuals is the most enjoyable aspect of his job and that he "continues to be impressed with the time and effort the volunteer committee members put into making accurate factual findings and legal conclusions, as well as making fair recommendations."

Jordan is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education seminars, law school programs, and professional legal organization meetings on topics related to lawyer discipline, legal ethics and professional responsibility. Additionally, he authored and regularly updates the LADB's Formal Hearing Practice Guide.

Jordan graduated from Loyola University of New Orleans with a B.A. in Political Science and History in May of 2004. He received his J.D. from Loyola's College of Law in May of 2007. Prior to working at the LADB, Jordan served as a law clerk to the Honorable Emile R. St. Pierre of the 29th JDC in Hahnville, Louisiana. Along with his service as an officer of NCLDB, Jordan has served as a member of Loyola's Alumni Association Board of Directors and Loyola's Young Alumni Pack. He has also participated in the LSBA's Annual Law Student Professionalism Orientation.

On a more personal note, Jordan and his wife have a son and are looking forward to the arrival of a new baby in the fall. He is an avid Crossfitter and also enjoys cooking and sewing.

February, 2019

LADB Provides Free Groupcast Program to New Lawyers

The LADB has been exploring different ways to provide free and low cost continuing legal education to lawyers. Earlier this month, Chief Disciplinary Counsel Charles B. Plattsmier delivered the LADB's first-ever groupcast presentation. This type of program allows a speaker's presentation to be livestreamed to an audience assembled in a remote location. The speaker and audience members can interact, pose questions and provide responses. A groupcast presentation qualifies as live Mandatory Continuing Legal Education.

At the recent program, audience members comprised of a group of newly-admitted Louisiana lawyers provided useful feedback to the LADB about the format of the program and offered suggestions for future programming. For their attendance, audience members received one hour of free CLE ethics credit and the LADB's sincere thanks for their participation!

Q & A with Carrie LeBlanc Jones

Don't worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin' don't worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!*

Are these words of singer-songwriter Bob Marley the best career advice a mentor has ever given to a young lawyer? Ask Carrie LeBlanc Jones, board member of the LADB, and she would emphatically respond, yes! Carrie remembers the late Wade Shows, her former law partner and mentor, regularly quoting Marley's lyrics. Wade taught her that if she worked hard and took pride in her work, that everything would work out satisfactorily and "be all right!"

Last year, 520 new lawyers were admitted to the practice of law in Louisiana. Carrie, who also serves as the current secretary of the LSBA's Young Lawyers Division Council, shares below her advice with young lawyers for achieving success. She also shares her thoughts on the Board's new Ethical Lawyer Learning Initiative (ELLI) and describes how her service as a board member of the LADB has changed her view of the practice of law.

Q: Knowing what you know today, what advice would you have given yourself on the day you graduated from law school?

A: It's ok to be nervous. One of the attorney volunteers told my trial advocacy class that even seasoned attorneys get nervous, and if you aren't nervous before a big court appearance, then you are probably doing something wrong. Also, take advantage of networking opportunities and create authentic relationships. You never know when you may need to call on a relationship. Several years into my career, I got involved with the local and state bar associations. I wish I would have gotten active sooner because my bar involvement has been very fulfilling.

Q: What should law firms do to help young lawyers develop and maximize their potential for success?

A: Firms should give young attorneys meaningful opportunities to practice law. In my first year at Shows, Cali & Walsh, I drafted motions, made court appearances, and took depositions while many of my law school classmates were stuck in their offices drafting legal memos.

Additionally, I think young attorneys learn more when they have file ownership. With the oversight of a more senior attorney, firms should let a young attorney work a file rather than handle random assignments to draft a legal memo here and respond to discovery there. It will give the attorney a better understanding of the entire process. The attorney will also be more comfortable arguing a motion if he has spent more time with the file and is intimately familiar with the facts.

Q: What do law firms expect from young lawyers?

A: I cannot speak for all firms or for the partners in my own firm, but I would expect a young attorney to be professional, available, enthusiastic, prepared, well-written, respectfully opinionated, and open to suggestions. Young attorneys should not put forth a sense of self-entitlement.

Q: What would you tell a new associate in a law firm to do every single day? What would you tell her never to do?

A: Every day you should arrive early. Carry a legal pad and pencil, especially when called in to meet with another attorney. Be enthusiastic about work assignments.

Get to know the office staff. Our firm has an eat-in kitchen. Office staff and attorneys often bring lunch from home and eat together. I remember telling one of our associates that it is a good idea to eat with the lunch crew a couple of times a week. A lot of bonding happens around the lunch table. It gives you a chance to get to know your co-workers without interrupting work time.

Also, don't ask someone to do something if you don't know how to do it yourself. It is really hard to give good quality instructions on how to do something if you don't know how to do it yourself. My example is when a pleading needs to be walked through to the judge. We have couriers in our office that typically file our local pleadings, but if a new attorney has never done it, then she probably cannot give the proper instructions to the courier.

You will have to ask office staff how to do things. Take time to learn how to do it yourself for the future. For me, it was the postage machine. I usually have support staff that can help, but I know how to use it in a pinch.

Don't let people assume you know how to do something. Ask for additional instructions and clarification. I would rather a young attorney ask a follow-up question than spend hours or days working on an assignment that she doesn't understand.

Lastly, avoid office drama at all costs.

Q: What are the most effective ways for a young attorney (solo and new associate in a law firm) to develop a client base? In a law firm setting, is it beneficial to the young attorney to have direct access to and communication with the firm's clients? If so, why?

A: Networking is the best way to develop a client base. Networking with other attorneys through the local bar association, state bar association, and Inns of Court may open the opportunity for client referrals. Networking in non-legal organizations may open the opportunity for new clients.

In firms, young attorneys should have direct access to and communicate with clients. Clients should know who is working on their legal matters, and young attorneys need to learn how to communicate with clients. It's interesting how many attorney disciplinary complaints are the result of an attorney's failure to communicate. Young attorneys should be taught this skill early in their legal careers.

Q: Hard skills (skills that must be formally studied, learned, and practiced to be usable, including technology) are routinely acknowledged as being very important in a young lawyer's practice today. Are soft skills (skills such as trustworthiness, respectfulness, a willingness to engage, being an active listener, a problem solver, and a negotiator) also important? If so, why?

A: A good balance of hard skills and soft skills is necessary to practice law successfully. You may be the most knowledgeable attorney in an area of the law, but if you cannot communicate the issues with your client or lack the trust of your client, then your expertise isn't benefiting the client. At the same time, you may be a great people person and wonderful negotiator, but if you aren't knowledgeable in the area of law in which you are negotiating, then it is a disservice to your client.

Q: What is your advice to young lawyers on achieving work-life balance?

A: This is a still a struggle for me. When I started practicing in the law firm setting, I didn't think twice about working late or on the weekends. I was newly married and didn't have a lot of obligations outside of the office. After having children, I really struggled internally because I didn't feel as productive since working late and/or on the weekends was no longer an option. I find myself telling younger attorneys to refrain from working after hours on things that are not time sensitive or pressing so they don't find themselves in the same dilemma.

Q: What are your thoughts on ELLI?

A: I'm excited that the LADB has teamed up with the Louisiana Supreme Court to provide young lawyers with ELLI. Law schools teach their students the law, but they fail to teach students how to practice law. I have been blessed to have great mentors during my legal career while working both as a judicial law clerk and within a firm. However, many young attorneys, especially those that hang their own shingle, do not have the same mentor opportunities that I had. ELLI is a great opportunity for our young attorneys to get practical tips on practicing law professionally and ethically while learning to avoid common pitfalls, manage a practice, and find work-life balance.

Q: Has your experience as a board member of the LADB changed your view of the practice of law? If so, how?

A: Absolutely! As a board member, I've been exposed to a lot of attorney disciplinary cases. In many of those, the lawyer did not realize he or she was committing a violation. At the end of the day, lawyers are responsible for their actions as well as their staff's actions. After deliberating on matters when the attorney is unaware of a rule violation, I often find myself going back to the office and speaking with my law partners, office manager, or bookkeeper to make sure our firm has the appropriate checks and balances in place. Of course, everything is always in tip top shape, but it can't hurt to double check.

*BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS, Three Little Birds, on EXODUS, (Tuff Gong 1977).

Carrie LeBlanc Jones is a partner at Shows, Cali & Walsh LLP in Baton Rouge, LA. She received a BA in mass communication in 2004 from Louisiana State University, an MBA in 2005 from Southeastern Louisiana University, and her JD/BCL in 2008 from LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. She was admitted to practice in Louisiana in 2008. Carrie has served as a board member of the LABD since 2014 and was its Chair in 2017. She and her husband, Aaron Jones, have been married for eight years and are the parents of two children.