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When giving back, think local

This week has been packed with lots of different events and hearings for me. Not that I’m complaining: if I had any advice for a solo starting off in practice, it would be fill your calendar with lunches, board meetings, networking events and, most importantly, community service. Sitting in your office and working on color-coding your filing cabinet, after all, will be helpful only if you have files to fill that cabinet.

Get out there and engage with your community. Be a leader in the community, be a listener, be anything but sedate in your chair all day. Once you start getting busy with cases, however, it is important to learn to say “No” to things. This will be hard, since as an attorney you will inevitably have some opportunities to be on boards for a particular charity or cause you love. Lots of people also will ask you for money despite the fact that you have seemingly insurmountable student loan bills to pay.

Say “no thank you” to some charities and organizations and try to focus in on one or two a year. Granted, I am bad at this. This article is pretty much a note to myself telling me what I should be doing. I am on the board of the Anne Arundel County Scenic Rivers Land Trust and active in Annapolis city government, among many other things.

You will have plenty of opportunities to meet and network with other lawyers but make sure not to forget your local community. If you focus on your local community and give back to it, your practice will be better balanced, your community will be better off and you will be better off.