Dear Mr. Zander:
Almost six years ago, I attended a presentation given by you for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP's annual law firm retreat. At the time, I was a new associate attorney who had been working at Gibson Dunn for 3 or 4 months, and I was very unhappy. I was working very long hours, and very much missing my wife. My 5 month old son was growing up without me, and I noticed that he didn't always seem to recognize me as much as I thought he should.
About a week before the retreat, I interviewed with a small law firm in Stamford, Connecticut, and during the four day retreat, my goal was to make a decision as to whether I would take the 50% paycut offered to me by that firm. The salary difference between the two law firms was minimal compared to the difference in culture and the fact that, at Gibson, Dunn, the firm represented large corporate clients while at the small law firm, Wofsey, Rosen, the firm primarily represented individuals.
I decided at the end of your talk that I would leave Gibson, Dunn, and the career move was so much more positive than I ever could have imagined. I love going to work still, after almost six years, and I love the people I work with. I feel like I make a difference each day representing individual clients with real problems. When applying to law school, I wrote an incredibly naive essay about how I wanted to help others, and I was going to use my legal skills to do so. Today while exercising, I realized that although I had taken a brief detour, I am doing exactly what I told my law school I would do. I help people, I empower them, I solve their problems, I assist them through difficult times, and I help them understand their rights.
More so than professionally, however, your presentation has changed me personally. I attended the children's Friday night services at our synagogue last week with my 3 and 6 year-old children, and I marched with the 3, 4, 5, and 6 year-olds, each of us carrying a stuffed Torah. I was marching, picking up my knees very high, as though it was a strange form of exercise, and singing off-key too loudly. I was participating in life, I was leading, encouraging, and holding nothing back. The next day, I attended a family party, At a dull moment, I encourage my son, two nephews and a niece to join me outside for some running around, jumping on a trampoline and playing tag in 20 degree weather. We had so much fun, and made so much noise running around on the frozen grass that we almost forgot how cold it was. While playing tag, running as fast as I could after a nephew who is almost 30 years younger than me, I realized I was doing exactly what you taught me to do when I sang "Happy Birthday" almost six years ago.
I never sing Happy Birthday without thinking of your "presentation," which seems like an odd word to describe it since it was so participatory. More so than I probably realize, however, your message has touched and molded my professional and personal life. Thank you.
Best wishes for a Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.
With great appreciation,
Back to Correspondence: Speaker Letters