I love when I get write about things that combine several of my passions in one post. If you know anything about me, you know 1) right or wrong, I love being a mom and I parent my kids very intentionally, and 2) I’m a lawyer. I love writing about being a lawyer mom, and how I lawyer better because I’m a mom and vice versa.
As part of my daily law practice, I read a few industry blogs each morning when I get into my office. One of those blogs is Above the Law, which endeavors to show a behind the scenes look at all things law. The site provides news and insights about the profession’s most colorful personalities (we’re looking at you, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Avenatti, and Michael Cohen) and powerful institutions, as well as original commentary on breaking legal developments.
Back in the fall, one of the main posts was entitled “4 Pointers for Professional Success – From Justice Sonia Sotomayor.” The advice was great, as would be expected, but it took me down a rabbit hole of sorts. As an aside to the advice, which the Justice gave during an interactive conversation with Dean Heather Gerken of Yale Law School, she mentioned her recently released children’s book, “Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You.”
Mom brain activated!
This is nearly identical to what I tell my kids each morning, their sweet little faces wrapped in my hands, as I drop them off for school- usually some iteration of: “There is no one in the world exactly like you. Be brave. Be kind. Listen to your teachers. Help someone.” Yes, I go all Mr. Rogers on my kids each morning.
But anyways, back to the book! A Supreme Court Justice and all around SHERO wrote a book for kids. Color me intrigued!!
I logged on to Amazon and quickly bought the book. Well, I tried to buy it quickly. First I bought the digital version for my kindle, then remembered it was for my kids and not for me, so I quickly cancelled that purchase and ordered the hard cover instead. #rookiemistake
The book came a day later and I sat down to read it. One thing I always make sure to do is to read all the books I get for my kids before I read it to them. There are some crazy books out there and I want to make sure the things they are reading build good foundations in their lives.
Let me tell you how impressive this book is. As a mom who loves children’s programming, whether on the tv or in written format, to focus on emotional intelligence, I was in mom heaven. This book is so thoughtful. The illustrations powerful. The lessons – priceless.
An excerpt from the foreword:
I hope by seeing yourself or your friends in this story, you will understand that we’re all different, and you will find that notion comforting and empowering. I hope too that you will recognize what we have in common. Instead of fearing our differences or ignoring them, we can shed light on them and explore them together. If you ever wonder why someone is doing something different from other kids, JUST ASK.
The book is replete with examples of things that might make someone appear to be different, but encourages you to “just ask” them before making a judgment. It points out that we all have differences, some that are easier to spot than others. But because we all have differences, that actually is something that we have in common! It teaches kids to understand and celebrate, rather than fear, what makes them different. What sage advice to offer the most impressionable among us. Also a reason I love Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – celebrating differences is so important!
And as I circle out of mom life for a minute and back to my lawyer life, isn’t “Just Ask” the perfect advice for lawyers as well? How many times are we, particularly early in our careers, making the mistake of not asking enough questions for fear of appearing ignorant? That leads to confusion, mistakes, and wasted time. While making mistakes is one way to learn and grow personally and professionally, there’s nothing to fear in asking clarifying questions or additional information from the outset. The most respected lawyers I have worked with are not afraid to admit when they aren’t following, don’t know the answer immediately, or need more information. Be brave!
In case any lawmas (lawyer moms) out there were wondering, the rest of her advice for lawyers was:
- If you don’t understand, just ask.
- Keep yourself open to possibility.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare — but be prepared to pivot if necessary.
- If you’re unhappy in your job, then do something about it.
Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor and illustrated by Rafael Lopez was released on September 3, 2019 and has already become a #1 New York Times bestseller! The book can be purchased at your favorite bookstore or on Amazon for $13.49!