Colleen Joern Vetter
Director, Division of Workers' Compensation, Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
Originally published in the September 2019 issue of the St. Louis Lawyer magazine. View in the archives.
What does BAMSL do for me? That is the question, right? I am a lawyer, you are a lawyer, or other professional working in the legal field. Or you are a lawyer like me, working as a professional but not as a lawyer. So what have you got for ME, BAMSL?
Personal endorsement here, I have found BAMSL offers pretty much everything I need to develop myself both as a lawyer, as a professional, and beyond. Through relationships built, skills developed, experiences shared, and advice given and received, I have grown and I am grateful.
We all know BAMSL offers CLEs and we need those pesky hours to report to MOBar to keep our license. Who has time for that? What makes CLEs fun is hearing Supreme Court Judge Russell teach Legal Ethics of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. And Ethical Surprise with Judge Page and Judge Dowd — where Judge Page handed out homemade soup. For a big bang, you cannot beat Bench and Bar, where you can get a big number of CLE hours out of the way, with training in all types of skills, and head home with a new toaster oven.
For the recliner style of personal and professional development, the St. Louis Bar Journal and the St. Louis Lawyer publications keep us up to date on professional trends and changes in the law. I always enjoy reading the bios of the authors in the Journal to get a glimpse of who these people are practicing in legal areas completely different than I do. The articles in the St. Louis Lawyer give me a more personal type of professional advice that I can benefit from every day. Did you see last month's articles about wellness? I use the P-E-A-C-E breathing technique* in stressful situations (almost daily!). You think I mean at work, right? Keep in mind I live with teenagers.
One of the ways I became the professional I am in the leadership role I have now is by crawling out of my recliner to become a leader for BAMSL. As a Member-at-Large, I get to participate in leadership activities that have developed skills and, more important, personal relationships. Attending meetings and showing up for activities and events take extra time in a life that is already so busy.
But I make the time both to give and to get back. I have given new attorneys advice about professional development and the all-important professional tool — the seam ripper (call me and I will explain). I also have received interesting experiences, confidence, great advice, new ideas, new friends, and lots of laughs.
The St. Louis Lawyer also is where I read about diversity and inclusion and how to describe them: diversity means being invited to the party; inclusion means being asked to dance. I wish I could remember the name of the author to credit her, but I am pretty sure she is OK with me spreading that quote everywhere I can because it makes it so real.
BAMSL is where I learn about activities I can enjoy with professionals who practice and look and live differently than I do. And from those experiences I also learn to be a better recruiter and hiring decision-maker and leader/manager who actively promotes diversity and inclusion in my workplace.
I am not the same person/lawyer who graduated from law school 30 years ago. Thank goodness! And thank you BAMSL for helping me develop into the better lawyer/professional that I am today.
* Breathe in (extending abdomen) for a count of 5; hold your breath for a count of 5; breathe out and spell the word P-E-A-C-E. Three sets of these will relax you. As I proofread this article, I realized I really should add this instead of increasing your stress by making you search for your August issue of the St. Louis Lawyer. Thank you, Connie Fisher, L.C.S.W., at Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri.