President's Message

Dear Fellows:

Many of us have returned or will soon return to our offices and confront the evidence of their misguided optimism way back in March 2020. Outdated calendars, dead plants, stale snacks — all signs that we thought we’d be back before too long.

As weeks folded into months, our optimism gave way to a gritty determination to plow through the disruptions and sorrow. As leaders in our respective firms and practices, we were called upon to reach beyond our own personal needs and respond to those of our employees and our clients. Most of us went well beyond whether all had the technology needed to work remotely; our concerns extended to the physical and mental health of our employees and their loved ones.

Now, as we return to the office, how do we transition from crisis mode to thriving workplace? I suggest we must work tirelessly to re-instill a sense of optimism and hope in our coworkers. Numerous studies show a consistent correlation between a positive outlook and well-being, work success, and better relationships.

Spreading optimism is a tall order; the emotional and economic losses experienced by so many are staggering. I am certainly not suggesting we “make lemonade from lemons.” That’s what we do when we suffer minor disruptions, not when losses include relationships, routine, jobs, freedom, health, and life itself.

Rather I am advocating that we all reflect on what we’ve done over the last 18 months and use that as motivation to see a post-pandemic world as an opportunity. Our offices, firms, profession, and world are moving forward. We are stunned and saddened by the tragedies we’ve all seen and those that some of us have personally suffered, but we are also much, much stronger as well. One of my partners expressed it best, “People have experienced how quickly they can confront challenges and change and adapt. It’s a testament to all of us, and a visceral demonstration of what’s possible.”

Yes, we need to mourn our losses, but recovery should include confident achievement based on our strength. We have an opportunity now to seize the moment and do things we didn’t think possible, to move from merely surviving to thriving. The pandemic changed how and where we work and laid bare what is most important to all of us.

I urge you to consider that today calls for a shift in leadership in all of our firms and workplaces, whether large or small, a move from merely supporting well-being to a focused program of spreading optimism. Please give some thought to what that means to you. We need people to recognize their strengths and see possibilities. As leaders, let’s seize this moment.

Best wishes,
Roman M. Silberfeld
International Academy of Trial Lawyers

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