New Year, New Beginnings

Happy New Year Every so often, it’s good to surprise the people you know. This year, it’s my turn.

I came to New York City to work as a first-year associate in a fabulous firm. The deal I made at that time with my family was that I would try the practice of law for three years — one for each year spent in law school — and then I’d move on to something else. Nearly 22 years later, I’m finally moving on. In the intervening time, I’ve had the good fortune to learn from and work with some of the best lawyers in the country, and I’ve had the opportunity to serve some terrific clients. In that period I also shifted from a full-time legal practice to the challenging discipline of law firm knowledge management.  And that shift provided even more opportunities to learn — about the business of law, about the opportunities and challenges presented by technology and, most importantly, about how and why people share knowledge.

Now it’s time for me to take that learning and move outside a single firm and industry. In fairness, I had been engaging externally for some time through this blog, via Twitter and by speaking at or organizing various knowledge management educational sessions, most notably those offered by the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA). In particular, the opportunities provided to me by ILTA to develop innovative session formats that improved the educational experience of attendees opened my eyes to the possibilities of helping others connect and learn in new ways.

So what’s next? To begin with, I’ve decided that for the next little while I’d like the flexibility of a portfolio of projects rather than a single employer.  I also know that I’d like to stretch some muscles and use some talents that haven’t always found an outlet in the legal industry. Accordingly, I’ve lined up several projects that will allow me to build on strengths and learn some new skills.

  • Technology. For years I’ve talked to technophiles about the critical importance of the people and process elements of knowledge management. I know some have thought this means that I’m a technophobe.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, I’ve simply been frustrated by what can appear to be a blind faith in technology solutions implemented without due consideration for the human elements.  Now I have a chance to put my learning (and rhetoric) to the test. I’m teaming up with a wonderful group of designers, developers and entrepreneurs in this country and abroad to create some new knowledge sharing tools. As we get closer to a working prototype I’ll tell you more about it here. For the time being, suffice it to say that we’re exploring new ways of making social media relevant and useful to segments of the business population that are still waiting for their social media road to Damascus moment.
  • Education. I’ve been given the opportunity to help teach a class that is part of the Masters of Science in Information and Knowledge Strategy at Columbia University. It is an innovative hybrid program that combines brief residency periods with online learning. I’m very much looking forward to learning more about how this combination of face-to-face and distance learning contributes to a rich educational experience for the students. I expect it will provide a glimpse of how the education sector is reinventing itself to remain relevant. Again, more to come as I learn more.
  • Writing. Since I began writing this blog nearly five years ago, I’ve discovered that writing is critical for me. It forces me to stretch — I read more and I think more. The reflection that good writing requires gives me an invaluable opportunity to learn and develop. So my plan is to write even more in 2013 than I have over the last few years. Expect more blog posts here and elsewhere.
  • Facilitation. You only have to attend one pointless meeting to understand the value of good meeting facilitation. Over the last 15 years I’ve done a goodly amount of facilitating critical meetings, strategic planning efforts, retreats and workshops. For me, the joy in this work is seeing the attendees uncover their own truths. I don’t supply the answers, they do. And in the process they identify the strategic path they need to follow. This is hugely rewarding work and I plan to do more of it this year.

All of this adds up to a comfortably full plate. That said, if you see any interesting projects in which I might be helpful, please let me know.  (You can always reach me at  As I have discovered, I have only two speeds — fully engaged or resting. For the next few years, I want to be fully engaged.

2013 promises to be exciting. I hope you have a rewarding adventure this year as well.

Happy New Year!

[Photo Credit: Photon Bomb]

15 thoughts on “New Year, New Beginnings

  1. This is an exciting development for all of us who have followed you (on this blog and elsewhere) over the years. Best wishes!

    1. Elizabeth –

      Thanks so much for your encouragement and support of my efforts on this blog and, more generally, in my other professional pursuits. 2013 promises to be an exciting one!

      Happy New Year!

      – Mary

  2. Hiya Mary! Holy smokes! How fabulous!! What an AMAZING piece of news to kick off a new year with some serious kick-ass change where I *do* you will continue to shine and thrive like you have been all along! It’s interesting to see how certain things seem to happen, apparently, for no good reason, till they hit you and you go “Bang!”. Time to shift gears and change! It’s just too funny how while I am still on holidays and have been doing some extensive, deep thinking the one single recurring word that keeps coming back over and over again is #change(s) … Looks like I’m not the only one thinking along those terms! Fantastic news!!

    I am really thrilled for you and your new adventures and I really look forward for that time / chance where we can meet up F2F to catch up and in the mean time I look forward to continue our interactions online (really looking forward to your superb effort on writing more!). Take good care, big congratulations on the move, once again, and see you soon! Online or offline! 😀

    1. Thanks a million, Luis! These changes are very exciting. I’m so looking forward to building on my strengths and exploring some new territory. Having a bit more time and space was critical for this next step. That said, I expect that I’ll be even busier than I was before.

      Let’s plan to chat soon. Until then, enjoy your holiday and keep thinking about the reinvigorating effects of #changes.

      – Mary

  3. Yay, Mary! Such great news. I’m excited that you will be stretching your wings a bit, as well as helping others by sharing what you’ve experienced and learned over the last several years. Best of everything to you in 2013 and beyond!

  4. Congratulations on your move, Mary! You are such a strong voice for everyone conducting KM in law firms. It sounds like you will be incredibly busy, and I expect you’ll have lots of success! Lets catch up soon.


    1. Thanks so much, Steve. As we say in New York, “From your lips to God’s ears!”

      It would be great to schedule a call. I’ll shoot you note to get the process started. In the meantime, best wishes for 2013.

      – Mary

  5. Nice to hear this, Mary. You will be awesome at these things – and you will get to continue learning. Let us know if you need any help!

    1. Thanks so much for your support, Jack. I’ll definitely be in touch — you’ve been walking this path a lot longer than I have. Thanks for offering to share your wisdom.

      – Mary

  6. Fabulous moving on … Life is experienced through change and growth while giving back… You are doing it all…what an example you are to all who know you and know what you have to give…go girl…XXXOOO

  7. Mary, it was really great to see you here in Austin. You’re a brilliant, passionate, and inspiring friend. I look forward to seeing you embrace your dreams and follow your own path.

    1. Thanks a million, Susan. I’m so glad we had a chance to get together in Austin. Can’t wait to see your plans come to fruition. It will be exciting!

      – Mary

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