By Susan Smith Blakely • March 19, 2020•Issues, Other Issues
Today I am frustrated with some of you. Particularly the millennials among you and especially the Gen Z-ers. And this is unusual for me, as you know, because I am generally very supportive of young people. I even wrote a book about millennial lawyers and what you want from employers, supervisors and managers. In other words, I have had your collective back.
But, if you are on Bourbon Street celebrating spring break from colleges, universities and law schools and congregating and socializing in close quarters, you are not living up to my expectations. You also are not meeting the expectations of healthcare officials and government leaders across this country who are trying desperately to control the spread of coronavirus or COVID-19 as we know it today. We know it all too well.
If you are on the beaches of Florida, partying in close proximity to others, I have the same response to you. Why would you risk it? Not just for the older people you might infect if you come in contact with the virus, but, as we now know, why would you risk it for yourself? Why would you turn a blind eye to your own health and to your responsibility as a member of a society that is threatened in a way that most of you never have experienced before?
Yes, some of you were around during 9-11, and it was bad. Very bad. But it also was not a nation-wide problem. For the most part, the threat was centralized in a few spots on the East Coast, most memorably New York City, and, yes, it was unimaginably bad there.
The difference, however, is that most of us could not do a thing to help when 9-11 happened. We were powerless. But that is not true of the threat posed by COVID-19. There is a lot that you can do to help your communities, and the simplest thing you can do is be smart. Stop thinking about yourselves and your pleasure and start paying attention to the threat indicators and doing what you are told.
Primarily, practice social distancing. Be part of the solution to "flatten the curve" and do not risk becoming part of the problem. Be respectful of yourself and your fellow men and women. Stay out of large crowds and off the beaches.
Here is an article that lays it out for you --- up to date information that busts the myth about young people not being vulnerable to the coronavirus. It reports on young people right here in our country who are positive for the virus and are now in ICUs battling for their lives. Young people like many of you --- who are definitely at risk.
For many of you, this is preaching to the choir. I know this. It is because you are not just young. You are smart, too. But I also know that all of you have plenty of other young people, many younger than yourselves, in your spheres of influence who need to read this and have this information.
Be the generations that I always have looked to for guidance on how to educate and even protect older people like me. It was you who inspired me to start the Best Friends at the Bar project, and it is you who continue to inspire me more than a decade later.
Currently our children have my husband and me under involuntary house arrest. Wear a mask! Wash your hands and clean all surface a hundred times a day! Drink water constantly --- at room temperature! Shelter in place!
Because we are really old and feeble, right? NOT! Because they care. And you do, too.
Show it and spread the word. Younger people will listen to other younger people. What they tend to discount from older generations will become real to them if they hear it from a cool, young person like you. So, just do it!
Thanks and God bless.
Susan Smith Blakely is the Founder of LegalPerspectives LLC and an award-winning, nationally-recognized author, speaker and consultant on issues related to young women lawyers, young women law students and young women interested in careers in the law. She is author of Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2009), and Best Friends at the Bar: The New Balance for Today's Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2012), which addresses the work-life struggle for women lawyers and includes twelve profiles of women who have successfully transitioned from one practice setting to another. Her third book in the series, Best Friends at the Bar: Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, focuses on the responsibilities of law firm leaders and was released by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business in 2015.
Ms. Blakely’s new book for ALL young lawyers, What Millennial Lawyers Want: A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice, will be released by Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers in the summer of 2018.
Ms. Blakely frequently speaks at colleges and universities, law schools, law firms and law organizations, and she has been featured in media including Corporate Counsel Magazine, the ABA Journal, the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, Women Lawyers Journal (NAWL), DC Spotlight, Lawyerist.com, Daily Muse, Lawyer and Statesman, Law.com, Georgetown Law Magazine, Legal Toolkit Podcast, and Huffington Post Business. Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues in business and the law profession, and she has been a featured speaker at the US Department of Justice, Civil Division. She is the recipient of the Ms. JD 2015 "Sharing Her Passion Award" and the Lawyer Monthly “Women in Law Award 2016” for her work on behalf of women in the law.
Ms. Blakely graduated from the University of Wisconsin with distinction and from Georgetown University Law Center where she was a teaching fellow. She is a member of the CoachSource global network of leadership coaches and is certified as a career coach for the Indiana University Marshall Goldsmith Leadership Development and Executive Coaching Academy. For more information, please visit www.bestfriendsatthebar.com.