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Leading Questions: BakerHostetler’s Collins Focuses on Diversity

July 24, 2020, 10:55 AM

Lawyers are great at asking questions, but how are they at answering them? Bloomberg Law is talking with lawyers and other legal industry players to find out what their lives look like in the age of work from home.

Lisa Collins is a partner in BakerHostetler’s Atlanta office focusing on intellectual property and overseeing the firm’s Patent Indemnification Recovery team. Within BakerHostetler, Collins serves on the firmwide diversity council and chairs the African-American affinity group. She also chairs the Atlanta office inclusion and diversity committee, and serves on the firmwide Women’s Committee.

Bloomberg Law spoke to Collins about working from home with a six-year old, the importance of carving out time for self-care, and how the Black Lives Matter movement has added even greater urgency to law firms’ push for more diversity and inclusion.

Bloomberg Law: Describe your day-to-day routine.

Lisa Collins: Even though I have been working from home, each day I get dressed and ready for the day just like I would if I had to go into the office. Then my husband and I make and eat breakfast with our six-year-old daughter Zoë. Thereafter, Alvin and I retreat to our separate, at-home offices to work. Our daughter interrupts us countless times during the day but we make do. We have learned to work and serve as periodic camp counselors effectively.

BL: What is the hardest thing about working from home?

LC: I have lots of distractions working from home. It has become much easier to manage as time has gone on. The first two weeks in March working from home were rough, because I had to teach kindergarten, work, and still do all the other things that moms and wives must do. Now this has become our new normal, so Zoë has adjusted.

BL: What is something your firm is doing that has been really helpful?

LC: My firm has been sending weekly emails. We have also had virtual social gatherings, happy hours, and we received a firm pandemic cookbook with recipes from colleagues, and other touch points. That has helped us to stay connected. Also, my closer colleagues and I have been in regular text communication and have otherwise kept in touch.

Lisa Collins
Courtesy of BakerHostetler

BL: How have your clients’ needs changed?

LC: My clients may work different hours now due to family obligations from working at home, but their work needs have not changed. I have had more technology transactions since the pandemic. I work with several software and technology companies and their business has grown.

BL: You work extensively on diversity at BakerHostetler and beyond. How has that work changed lately given Covid-19 and widespread protests around racial inequality and police brutality?

LC: What has happened and continues to happen to Black people is unconscionable. The videotaped murder of George Floyd and many others at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve, and the weaponizing of white privilege by Amy Cooper have gotten many in the world to listen and to educate themselves regarding the systemic racism that has persisted in America for over 450 years.

Due to the pandemic, there is a captive audience and many people are now paying attention. These listeners need to be turned into actors. We need to work towards action steps and goals to dismantle systemic racism, succeed in these goals, and hold people accountable.

As BakerHostetler mentioned in a statement, like many law firms, we have work to do to increase diversity among our attorneys and leadership. We have been working to address issues of inclusion, diversity, and equity and will continue to do so until we make lasting changes that increase diversity, and which actualize and promote a legacy of inclusion.

BL: What is your number one piece of advice about working from home?

LC: Try to get some quality time for yourself. That has been very hard for me with so much going on in the world, work, and childcare. I have been carving out at least an hour a day to relax by either reading a book, watching a show while drinking some wine, or exercising.

BL: What’s your favorite working-from-home story that made you laugh, shake your head, or just throw up your hands?

LC: Zoë has made several cameos on virtual meetings. I used to try and regulate it, and I would rush off screen and whisper that “mommy is working.” After a few weeks in, I just started to embrace it. We are all working from home and everyone with young kids is in a similar situation, so we must give each other some grace. The work will get done and done well, so if my daughter needs me for a moment, it needs to be okay.

BL: What do you do to de-stress or take your mind off work when you’re trapped inside (or limited in where you can go)?

LC: I am very lucky because I live in Atlanta and have lots of outside space. We go for walks, ride bikes, and swim. We have also gone to parks to hike and canoe. You can practice all these things as a family unit while socially distancing from others.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Ellen Egan in New York at maryellenegan1@gmail.com

To contact the editor on this story: Rebekah Mintzer in New York at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer in New York at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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