When the world is on fire, lawyers can help

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers. Episode seven.

When you find meaning in your work, does it make you happy? Many of us became lawyers to make a difference, and we struggle when we feel like we’re going through the motions day in and day out.  Can you relate?

This article focuses on times of crisis and why it’s imperative lawyers use their skills to help. The world needs you now and you can make a difference. 

Because right now, the world is in crisis. It’s on fire. 

Russia started a war in Ukraine. It’s the biggest war in Europe since World War 2. It feels unreal. 

How does it make you feel? Paralyzed? Heartbroken? Helpless?   

You may think it’s too big, or too overwhelming to make a difference. I disagree. Together we can do incredible things.

How can lawyers help in a crisis?

Don’t look away

As painful and scary as it is, it’s important to stay present and acknowledge the crisis. Understand what’s going on and why it’s happening. 

Get accurate information so you can act on it. 

We need truthful information for ourselves, for our children and for the people we serve.

But it’s important to create boundaries around the volume of information we digest because we need to take care of ourselves too. If you can, turn off images and video from the feed. 

Balance the search for reliable information with time away from the media.

Get emotional

Pay attention to your emotions. 

Crisis means we feel all the emotions. We wouldn’t be humans if we did not feel the pain. 

And this can be difficult for lawyers, I get it. We are taught to stick to our professional role and keep our values separate from our professional life. Stay neutral.

But don’t you think we can listen to our moral and emotional reactions, too? Maintaining neutrality when we can help is unsustainable. We don’t have to keep our distance or act like robots. Especially in the situations like this. We are allowed to feel.

And not only that, I believe we must feel. Feelings are integral to our mechanism as humans. They affect our decision making and behavior much more than we know. We can use them to our advantage. Our emotions give energy and guide the way to action and protest. 

So let’s get emotional about the crisis.

Let’s donate money

There are many ways to react to shocking news. My way is to take action.

As soon as I can after the initial shock, I need to act. I need to do something concrete to help. 

And there are so many ways to do this. 

What’s most helpful for the Ukrainian people at the moment, says the experts, is to donate money. Money is liquid, it’s easy to transmit and it’s easy to allocate to the real needs of the suffering people. 

Luckily there are endless opportunities to donate money for the Ukrainian people at the moment. All the biggest charities and NGOs are collecting money and wiring it to the right place. 

It can feel difficult to choose one, but I’d go with the ones you’re already familiar with. With the ones you know can take the help where it is most needed. 

And the smallest of amounts are a big deal. Size does not matter here. When we all chip in, the result is huge. If you’re up for it, you can challenge your network, colleagues or friends and collect a larger donation. By doing this you also spread awareness about the crisis and why it’s important to participate.

Donate your skills and time

Besides the money, there are also other ways we lawyers can help. 

We can give back by donating our time, our expertise. Right now, there are millions of refugees looking for a place to live. They need help with all sorts of things, and immigration regulations are as difficult as regulations get. 

Could you help translate that legal language into an easier to understand format? 

Even basic information collected in one source is helpful. All the charities and NGOs are now also looking for easy information and translations that they can provide to the refugees. Maybe do some pro bono work here?

Share the knowledge and skills you have, they are so valuable. What you may consider simple and easy is not simple and easy for many others. 

Advocate for peace

Lawyers are great advocates.  Our job is to help and advocate for other people. Even if we aren’t working as advocates, we have the skills and ability to do it. We have the power of language and we can make our case whenever we need to.

So why not make our case for peace?

The easiest way to start advocating is to start talking about both war and peace. War can be difficult to talk about, but let’s not look away. 

We have the skills to share information and we have the authority to speak. People listen to us, so let’s use our voice. 

Don’t know how to talk about it? We excel at researching information. Find out more and share that information. Your skills in separating the truth from fiction are more valuable than ever. Help people understand what’s happening.

Let’s not be afraid to express our support and opinions. 

We can speak up. We can call our representatives and demand better decisions. We can support the protests for peace. The protests are crucial in conveying the message that we do not accept the invasion, that we do not accept the innocent people dying. The behavior sends a powerful message.

Again, one voice may not be heard, but together we can be loud.

What will you do today, and in future times of crisis to make a difference in the world?

My thoughts are with the Ukrainian people. May peace prevail as soon as possible.

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers

I dwelled for many hours about whether to continue the coffee series while the war rages. Maintaining a “business as usual” approach did not sit well with me so I’ve used this time to raise awareness of what is happening; the flood of refugees and the murder of innocent people. 

In Finland, where I live, we have a long and tumultuous history with Russia as well as a shared border.  The everyday conversation centres on the location of the nearest bomb shelter. It’s nothing compared to what’s happening in Ukraine, but the anxiety in Europe is palpable.   

Yet I also think that it’s important to continue our life, our work and our businesses. We help by maintaining and strengthening our functional capacity and resilience in the middle of all this. That is the way forward. We cannot let Putin or anyone else take away our lives. 

So I will continue my work and my Instagram Live sessions. 

We cover client experience and client-centricity in law and how you can take your law practice to the next level with confidence and ease with the help of legal design thinking. 

 You can catch a replay of Episode seven here

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers. Episode 7. When the world is on fire, lawyers can help.

Want to join me? Every Wednesday at 8 am ET you can find me at @lawyersdesignschool on Instagram, where you can ask any questions you have.

Get in touch

 Would you like to chat or share your feelings or ideas to assist? I’m here to support you and offer any help I can to use our skills to help end this carnage. 

I implore you to do everything you can to assist people affected by the war. 

Catch the replay: Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers

Watch all the Happy customer and happy lawyers episodes.