Camille Stell

Stell: My 2017 Reading Challenge

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” 

Lemony Snicket

In 2017, I set a reading goal, to read 30 books in a year. By December 31, I had achieved my goal plus some – 38 books completed. You may remember I set my first reading challenge in 2016, to read 52 books in a year. I accomplished that goal, but decided to scale back in 2017 to allow myself a few more options with my reading that I didn’t feel I had while trying to read a book a week.

Tracking my Reading Challenge

I use Goodreads, a mobile app (and website) that includes book reviews, recommendations, social sharing with friends and the ability to create a catalogue of books you have read, are currently reading or want to read. I use the app’s Reading Challenge to track my progress. It is also nice to have one place to track recommendations I receive from friends or books I read about that I want to add to my reading list.

The Numbers

Goodreads also provides statistics about my reading challenge.

In 2017, I read 11,507 pages. I was in good company with my goal. In 2017, more than three million readers joined the Challenge and collectively read 45.7 million books with 504,000 readers successfully completing their Challenge. The average books pledged per reader were 45.

A few of the books I read showed up on the “Goodreads Choice Awards” including “What Happened” by Hillary Rodham Clinton, “Braving the Wilderness” by Brene Brown and “Option B” by Sheryl Sandberg.

Reading the World

Ann Morgan, a freelance writer from London embarked on a great reading adventure. As she describes it on her blog, “In 2012, the world came to London for the Olympics and I went out to meet it. I read my way around all the globe’s 196 independent countries . . . sampling a book from every nation.” To see Morgan’s extraordinary book list visit here – A Year of Reading the World – https://ayearofreadingtheworld.com/thelist/

I mentioned Ann’s blog last year when I wrote about my challenge. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out, along with her book reviews.

Here are a few insights from my favorite books.

Recommendations

My favorite book of fiction this year, “The Barrowfields”, was from a new author, Charlotte lawyer Phillip Lewis. Phillip tells an exquisite story about complicated characters that stayed with me after I finished the book. Charlotte lawyer Sonya Pfeiffer wrote a beautiful review of Phillip’s book for our newsletter, you can find it here (http://www.lawyersmutualnc.com/risk-management-resources/articles/an-epic-emotional-achievement).

“The Barrowfields” is a deeply personal story for Phillip. He writes with depth of emotion and a classical literature style that belies his inexperience with this form of writing. I can’t wait to see what’s next from Phillip, though I’ll tell you I made a pitch for him to write more about his protagonist Henry Aster’s sister, Threnody. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

This year, I read several books of fiction by one of my favorite authors, Jodi Picoult. I read her newest book “Small Great Things”, as well as older paperbacks that I found in used book stores. If you read Picoult, you know she typically creates stories about compelling characters dealing with contemporary social issues. “Small Great Things” is a timely story told about racism. In Picoult’s author’s note at the end of the novel, she says she has long wanted to write about American racism. I admire her courage in tackling this topic and I appreciated her effort. Early in the year, it was announced that the book would be made into a movie with Viola Davis playing the role of labor and delivery nurse, Ruth Jefferson, and Julia Roberts playing the role of public defender Kennedy McQuarrie, the lawyer representing Ruth in the legal case brought by white supremacists parents of a child treated by Ruth.

While I enjoyed several memoirs this year, Andre Agassi’s “Open”, captivated me from opening page. I had posters of Bjorn Borg on my college wall and loved following tennis. To find out that Agassi hated every moment of tennis and to read stories of training with his dad and at the “elite” tennis academy he attended was heartbreaking. Redemption arrived with his marriage to Steffi Graf and it finally seems in the end, he was able to savor some moments of joy on the court, partially because he knew they were his last.

I first saw the film “Lion”, then read the book the film was based on, “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierley. Brierley’s story of falling asleep on a train at age five and getting lost in India a thousand miles from home, living on the street and in an orphanage before being adopted by an Australian couple and traveling across the globe, then finding the hut he grew up in with his mother using images from Google Earth, seems too implausible to be true. However, 25 years later, he triumphantly reunites with his mother and family. “A Long Way Home” is both heartbreaking and an inspirational story of hope.

“Proof of Heaven” is a story with a North Carolina connection. Dr. Eben Alexander, is a neurosurgeon from North Carolina. Like many scientists, Dr. Alexander had a difficult time reconciling his knowledge of science with his belief in God. After a personal disappointment, he further shut the door to believing in a personal God. Then, Dr. Alexander experienced a rare illness resulting in a near death experience. While his body hovered in a coma and e-coli attacked his brain for 7 days, Dr. Alexander explored the world beyond and came back to complete health and a new belief about life on earth and hereafter.

“E-Lawyer: A Guide to Legal Practice Leadership in the Internet Age” by Adam Newhouse is a must-read for lawyers who want to understand more about the changing nature of the legal profession considering the technology age. “Helping clients communicate with other law firms in the days leading to the Great Recession, I became acutely aware of lawyers’ pervasive lack of responsiveness to clients. Delays in returning phone calls or responding to emails seemed to go with the territory of legal practice. The speed of offering legal solutions was almost never a priority. Our proverbial tardiness is symptomatic of wider inefficiencies in our relationships with clients and management of law firms.” Newhouse goes on to offer solutions to assist lawyers in acquiring a “Digital Mentality” that will help them thrive.

My complete book list can be found at the Lawyers Mutual blog, I hope you will check it out, http://www.lawyersmutualnc.com/blog.

Reflections

When you write your goals down, you are more likely to accomplish them. Or at least that’s what the experts say. That certainly seemed true with my reading goal. I was intentional about reading. I chose to watch less television and to read fewer magazines and web stories so that I could focus on books.

Another benefit of my reading challenge was a health challenge. Several friends and family members read the Whole30 health books in 2017 and we followed the Whole30 eating plan. The idea is simple – whole foods for 30 days. It is a nutritional reset where you avoid dairy, sugar, alcohol, grains, and legumes for 30 days. As a result, I lost weight and saw an improvement in several medical markers such as blood pressure and cholesterol readings. I am a big fan of Whole30 and love sharing tips and recipes.

One reason I decided to leave my reading goal at 30 books in 2018 instead of increasing it is to spend more time writing. While I write plenty for work, I want to spend more time on recreational writing. I have a personal blog that hasn’t seen any attention in recent years so I’m dusting off “Traveling Mercies” (https://travelingmerciesbycamille.blogspot.com/) and I invite you to follow me there.

Reading is my favorite pastime and I enjoyed the many hours spent on my reading challenge. I know many of us have this in common and I look forward to the conversations about books we will have in 2018.

Camille Stell is the Vice President of Client Services for Lawyers Mutual. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at camille@lawyersmutualnc.com or 800.662.8843.

Volunteer at Potter’s House

Volunteers are needed to serve food to the less fortunate at the Urban Ministry’s Potter’s House.

Shifts are from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM.
This is a great opportunity to give back to the community in the company of fellow members of the bar. We need help on the following Sundays:

  • Feb. 18
  • Mar. 18
  • April 15
  • May 20

Please email Melissa Duncan at mduncan6@elon.edu if you are able to help. Write POTTER’S HOUSE in the subject line.

Benefit for Legal Aid Scheduled for Feb. 17

Saturday, February 17

6:30 – 9:30 PM

Beer & Wine Tasting, Buffet and Raffle set in the aquarium at the Greensboro Science Center.

Register Here!

Jan. Member Meeting Rescheduled for Mon., Jan. 22 – All are Welcome!

Due to inclement weather, our January meeting has been rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 at 12:30 p.m. in the Empire Room.
All members are welcome!
If you did not have a reservation for the original Jan.18 meeting but would like to attend the rescheduled meeting this Monday, Jan. 22, you may Register Here!
If you had a reservation for the Jan. 18 meeting and would like to attend the meeting this Monday, Jan. 22, please re-register by clicking on Register Here!
The presentation of the memorial resolution for Holt Gwyn and the Centennial Award have been postponed.
Reservations are required and must be made by Friday, Jan. 19 at 5:00 PM.
Please include all guest reservations with your registration. The $35 guest fee is payable at the event.

Young Lawyers Section: Connections, January 2018

The Young Lawyers Section ended the year by hosting a successful dinner event at Urban Ministries in December.  We served about 80 meals, including lasagna and vegetables, to those in need. Thanks to all those who participated!  See below for what’s in store for YLS members in 2018:

Annual YLS Kick-Off Party.  The Young Lawyer’s Section will be hosting its annual Kick-Off Event at Natty Greene’s on Friday, January 19th at 7 p.m.  During the event, YLS will be collecting donations at the door to support our Book Buddies Program at Hampton Elementary.  YLS members, as well as prospective members, are invited and encouraged to attend.

Lunch & Learn. YLS has partnered with local attorney and Greensboro City Council member Justin Outling from Brooks Pierce to arrange a Lunch & Learn event for Monday, March 5.  Lunch will be provided by YLS and Smith Moore Leatherwood is hosting the event.  The topics will include current events that impact our City and legal community.

Connect with Us. Do you want more information about upcoming YLS events or how you can get involved? Check out our website at www.greensboroyls.org.  E-mail Grant Sigmon (grant@sklawnc.com) to make sure you are on the listserv.

GBA 2017 Holiday Party Highlights

Our annual holiday gathering featured delicious food, festive music and record attendance… a merry time was had by all! More than 200 books were wrapped that evening for the students at Jones Elementary. It was a special way to kick off the holiday season.

New Members, Approved on December 13, 2017

Brett Matthew Becker
Nexsen Pruet
Endorsed by Jeffrey M. Reichard

Jamey Maris Lowdermilk
Law Clerk to Hon. Benjamin A. Kahn
Endorsed by Ames Chamberlin

Camille Stell

Stell: Listen Up! My Favorite Podcasts

I enjoy talking about my favorite podcasts. These podcasts represent my favorite legal podcasts, as well as new podcasts I discovered in 2017. I hope you will add some of my picks to your playlist and share your own favorites with me.

S-Town. S-Town is an investigative journalism show created by the producers of the award-winning podcast, Serial. The host, Brian Reed, created S-Town in seven chapters and unlike the common form of releasing a chapter a week, released all seven chapters at once allowing followers to binge listen. The podcast was downloaded a record-breaking 10 million times in four days.

Reed lets us in on a secret; S-Town is actually a euphemism for “Shit Town”, the colorful name bestowed on the town of Woodstock, Alabama by the show’s even more colorful protagonist, John B. McLemore.

McLemore sends an email to Reed, a staff member of This American Life, asking him to investigate a murder in Woodstock. The journey Reed and McLemore takes is breathtaking with shocking turns of events. If you have ever lived in the rural south, you will recognize the characters and their stories, and your heart will rise and break along with theirs.

Stay Tuned With Preet with Preet Bharara. Preet Bharara is the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Bharara fought corruption, financial fraud and violent crime. His most recent claim to fame? He was fired by President Trump. His podcast launched in 2017 and opens with the story of President-Elect Trump asking him to stay in office, followed by his firing a few months later. Bharara’s guests have included Senator Jeff Flake, Leon Panetta, and Catherine Hoke discussing her work in moving inmates to entrepreneurs. Bharara’s show chronicles the Mueller investigation and breaking news stories as well. It’s no surprise that a trial attorney such as Bharara is a captivating podcast storyteller.

Sex at Work with Leto Copely and Valerie Johnson, The Law Sisters. While Leto and Valerie are not actual sisters, they have practiced law together in Durham, North Carolina for 20 years. Their comfortable banter and easy repartee make learning about the law a lot easier.  Sex at Work is an entertaining and informative look at the world of employment law played out each week in discussions of recent scandals, cases in the news (Uber we are looking at you) and segments such as “Bad Boss of the Week”. This is the Law Sisters first go at a podcast, but it certainly does not feel that way.

Ear Hustle. An intriguing name, to ear hustle is to eavesdrop. Or, as the Urban Dictionary says, “all up in somebody else’s business without knowing the details”. When you finish Ear Hustle, you will know the details. Co-produced by San Quentin inmates Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, along with Bay Area artist Nigel Poor, the series explores life as a prisoner inside San Quentin.

The podcast does not preach against the ills of mass incarceration or of a justice system that has glaring faults, instead, the show humanizes men who are spending decades in prison. They talk about everything from family and heartbreak to the difficulties of finding a compatible roommate.

With no training in the medium, rudimentary equipment, and boatloads of bureaucracy and red tape, Woods, Williams and Poor are becoming master storytellers. I am hooked. As I listen, I am reminded of Bryan Stevenson’s quote in his excellent book on social justice, Just Mercy, “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

Legal Talk Network. Legal Talk Network is a curated collection of podcasts featuring some of the best known names in practice management, marketing and legal news reporting. There are podcasts for law students, new lawyers, senior lawyers, in-house counsel and paralegals. This is a “must add” to your podcast feed as new content is created daily.

Bulldog Bites with Mark Enriques. Mark is a business litigator in the Charlotte office of Womble Bond Dickinson (formerly Womble Carlyle). Bulldog Bites, featuring a handsome Winston the famous WCSR bulldog mascot, provides corporate attorneys with tips and insights from general counsel, politicians, analysts and leading business professionals. Mark’s show about Womble’s combination with the UK firm Bond Dickinson is an interesting inside look at how two firms across the pond met and fell in love.

Revisionist History. One of my favorite social scientists and authors, Malcolm Gladwell, examines the way the passage of time “changes and enlightens our understanding of the world around us.” Or as Malcolm says of the show, “my podcast about things overlooked and misunderstood.”

One of my favorite episodes from last season was “My Little Hundred Million”. This episode looks at the ideologies behind charitable giving and educational philanthropy. This season features a fascinating look at some of the biggest names in the civil rights movement, along with names we may not know, but stories we will not forget.

The Gen Why Lawyer with Nicole Abboud. Nicole practiced law for 5 years before acknowledging a shocking revelation; she hated practicing law. She launched a podcast and a business, Abboud Media, where she works with lawyers to build their brands and grow their businesses. Each week, Nicole talks with lawyers who are sharing courageous stories and offering tactical advice about practicing law in unconventional ways.

The West Wing Weekly with Joshua Malina (actor from The West Wing and Scandal, along with Hrishikesh Hirway of Song Exploder podcast). The WWW is an episode-by-episode discussion of my favorite TV show of all time, The West Wing. If you loved the show, you will love the podcast. If you are new to the show, watch it on Netflix and follow along with the podcast. Josh and Hrishi are entertaining, have good banter and the show has high production value. The guest stars include actors from the show, politicians, staffers from former White House administrations and the fabulous creator of the West Wing, Aaron Sorkin.

Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman. Internet entrepreneur, venture capitalist and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman interviews famous founders such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and Lean In, Eric Schmidt of Google and Sara Blakely of Spanx.

Hoffman explores ideas such as leadership, building company culture, critical problem solving and gender equality in the workplace. I’m currently reading Hoffman’s book, The Start-up of You.

The Secret to Victory. This podcast is about how the most competitive athletes in the world use defeat to fuel their next win. Host Domonique Foxworth, ESPN writer and former NFL player, interviews sports royalty such as Serena Williams, and Peyton and Eli Manning.

WDW Prep to Go. Walt Disney World. Enough said. Well, perhaps a little more. Shannon Albert, the host of this delightful podcast offers tips to planning the most magical Disney vacation. Her website, WDW Prep School, is a “must visit” if you are planning a trip and her six step planning process is a great model.

I hope you will get a chance to listen to some of these great stories and share your favorites podcasts with me.

Camille Stell is the Vice President of Client Services for Lawyers Mutual. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at camille@lawyersmutualnc.com or 800.662.8843.

GBA Members Deliver Books to Jones Elementary

This is so special, I think I’m going to cry.

On December 19, 2017, eleven volunteers from the GBA delivered holiday cheer and more than 200 well-wrapped books to the K-5 students in the Neighborhood Leadership Program (NLP) at David D. Jones Elementary School. As always, the children were happy and excited to receive their gifts. One student remarked, “This is so special, I think I’m going to cry.” This year’s GBA Elementary School Project was one of our most successful, thanks to generous member donations of over $3,000 and a $500 matching grant from the GBA Foundation, and the time and care members showed wrapping the books at the GBA Holiday Party on December 13.  As has been done in years past, the books were purchased through Jones Elementary’s Scholastic Book Fair, which provides the school with funds that can be used to purchase new books for the school library and classrooms. Sufficient funds were raised to purchase additional books as gifts for all fifth graders graduating from Jones Elementary this year in both the NLP and Spanish Immersion programs.

 

GBA-Book-Buddies-2018v67n5_Jan-r6-1

 

 

The GBA would like to thank the following individuals and groups for their generosity in donating to the annual Elementary School Project:

Hon. Patrice Hinnant

Art MacCord

Alicia C. Edwards

Edward R. Sharp

Hank Mangum

Erwin Fuller

Sarah Sparrow

Hon. Teresa H. Vincent

Laura Milloway

Terrill Harris

Sarah H. Roane

Sally B. Cone

Barbara Christy

Doris R. Bray

Jennifer Himes

Davis McDonald

Richard H. Hicks

Joseph R. Beatty

Kearns Davis

Adam Kerr

Sharon O. Johnston

Jeri Whitfield

Alan Duncan

Michael R. Abel

Kenneth R. Keller

Hon. A. Robinson Hassell

Eloise Hassell

Gerald Walden

Hon. Tonia Cutchin

Sabrina Clark

Richard Hicks

Donald Speckhard

Erin Reis

Joseph Gram

Ashleigh Greene

Robert Douglas

Afi Johnson-Parris

Robert Wicker

Hon. Catherine Eagles

Alex Barrett

David Puryear

Stephen Russell

Chris Carr

Scott Gayle

Joyce Terres

Paige McElravy

Michele Smith

Charles Younce

Melanie Hamilton

Anna Cushman

Nancy Ferguson

Fidelity National
Title Insurance Company

Volunteer at Potter’s House

Volunteers are needed to serve food to the less fortunate at the Urban Ministry’s Potter’s House.

Shifts are from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM.
This is a great opportunity to give back to the community in the company of fellow members of the bar. We need help on the following Sundays:

  • Jan. 21
  • Feb. 18
  • Mar. 18
  • April 15
  • May 20

Please email Melissa Duncan at mduncan6@elon.edu if you are able to help. Write POTTER’S HOUSE in the subject line.