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Workplace committees aren't the most glamorous things. Sometimes they're even openly derided. Think, for example, back to "The Office," which often pilloried the petty tyranny of the Party Planning Committee.
Don't give much weight to the jokes. Firm committees do a lot more than setting up the holiday party. In many firms, committees are a way to get involved in important firm business, such as employee benefits and recruiting strategies. Working on a committee can allow you to demonstrate leadership and help you stand out from the herd.
Of course, it isn't all sunshine and lollipops. So here are some things to keep in mind if you're considering joining a committee at your firm:
Who doesn't want to have a finger on the scale? In many firms, committees can be involved in substantive planning. Firm committees can deal with issues such as diversity, recruiting, expansion, benefits, and environmental impact. Serving on a committee gives you an opportunity to influence decisions that could really impact the practice -- and your quality of life.
Committee work likely won't be legal work, which means joining a firm committee can add some variety to your plate. It can be refreshing way to break up a schedule of depos, memos, and briefs.
Not only will you get to exercise different skills, you will interact with parts of the firm that you might not see in your day to day. Whether it's lawyers from other practice areas, or members of the non-legal office staff, committee work can help expand your in-house Rolodex.
If you're looking to stand out, succeeding on an office committee is one way to do so. Whether it's organizing the best holiday party the firm has ever seen, or revamping the diversity initiative, committee work is a good way to show that you know what it takes to get a job done successfully. If you're working your way up in the firm, effectively managing a committee can be a good stepping stone.
Didn't know about office energy consumption or how much your carbon footprint can shrink by changing lights? Had no idea what it cost to offer support staff a better dental plan? Well, now you do. Committee work can allow you to dip your toes in a variety of new knowledge pools. You'll gain experience and a fuller picture of what it takes to run the firm.
Most often, you don't get to bill for committee work. If you're already overworked, struggling with meeting your hours or concerned about work-life balance, adding something extra to your plate might not be the best idea.
Don't let committee work eclipse your lawyer responsibilities. Women especially should be wary of being saddled with office housekeeping work, which they're often expected to do at higher rates than men and for which they see less benefit.
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