Joining FLIP in the time of COVID-19

By Zareefa B. Flener, Posted April 20, 2020

Starting A New Position… Remotely

Flener IP & Business Law is proud to welcome Thomas G. Bowers, Esq. to the FLIP team. Zareefa B. Flener, Founder and Manager, has had the pleasure of knowing Thomas through his professional legal career and finally has the pleasure of introducing him as a member of the team. You can read about Thomas’ stellar background on our website at www.flip.law, where you will learn that he is a talented litigator, and is impressively barred in California and in Illinois, but what may not be as obvious is that Thomas is a quick study in all matters and adept at managing large caseloads with ease. Despite the current environment and our methodical attention to social distancing rules, Thomas’ steady enthusiasm is contagious and engaging to colleagues and clients alike, so that working remotely does not appear to have hindered Thomas’ seamless integration into the firm.

At the beginning of this new 2020 year, I reached out to Thomas G. Bowers, Esq. to offer him a position at the firm. We were swamped and he was as well. However, a discussion that had started four years before was finally put to rest. Thomas accepted the offer to join FLIP after responsibly wrapping up various projects and litigations. We agreed to wait until the end of March to welcome him on board. And so, Thomas started as an associate at FLIP on March 30th, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Chicago was on lockdown, and the daily known infection and death toll climbed. All the while, Thomas begin working from his remote location, never missing a beat, a virtual meeting, or a deadline. FLIP scheduled daily virtual meetings, FLIP provided and explored communication tools for team and group collaboration, FLIP invested in the firm and no voice went unheard. Efforts made to keep the firm cohesive from a remote perspective, fostered a welcome environment for Thomas to be as visible as anyone else, and also to add value in terms of culture and work product.

For those of you who have transitioned into new positions during this environment, working remotely with new colleagues, we hope that you are able to meet the challenge seamlessly, and your story is as successful as ours. We are thrilled to have Thomas on board. I would call the onboarding a success.

I asked Thomas to share his perspective hoping that it will help to alleviate fears, give some tips on how to successfully transition, and instill confidence in all of those millions of people who have lost jobs that starting a new position remotely can be successfully managed. While today this seems like an unusual circumstance, it may become the norm in the time ahead.

We now turn it over to Thomas G. Bowers, Esq., from his perspective…

It is a true pleasure to join Flener IP & Business Law (also referred to as “FLIP”). I lateraled to the firm after working for several years in medical malpractice defense litigation and cyber and biometric defense litigation. I knew I could work-up a case from start to finish. I had a lot of deposition experience. I had second-chair trial experience. What I did not have was the breadth of experience the professionals at FLIP appeared to have in IP. Nevertheless, the firm was eager to bring aboard an associate with a litigation background and being barred in California and Illinois was a great fit with the cannabis and technology practices. I also already knew Zareefa Flener, and I knew she would be an amazing partner to work with. A career in IP law had been my dream ever since I was a 1L in law school, and so I naturally accepted the offer to come aboard.

My onboarding took place during a truly unprecedented time – the COVID-19 pandemic. I was hired with the expectation that my onboarding would take place in a traditional brick-and-mortar environment, allowing me the opportunity to pose my questions to my colleagues in-person and receive hands-on training. Instead, COVID-19 struck Chicago, and Illinois, a week and a half before my start date, and accordingly the firm went remote until further notice. This posed unique questions for me. How would I receive the training I need? How would I learn a new practice area remotely? Would I in fact still have a job? This career move had been a dream of mine for years, but things seemed uncertain as the firm, and the rest of Chicago, was figuring out how to deal with the crisis.

More and more firms were already expanding remote capabilities, as enhanced technology, commute times, and a desire to achieve greater work/life balance have taken center stage. The American Bar Association has published numerous articles on the subject. My prior law firm had a robust, high-functioning cloud-based system that allowed easy access to case files. My time there taught me that you do not necessarily have to be in the office to get your work done, and also that flexibility in the workplace drives productivity.

I encountered a similar remote-based system at FLIP. Accessing my files has been seamless. Daily Zoom meetings with the other attorneys in the firm has allowed me to learn about all the firm’s files, including those I’m not assigned, the process, and even the clients and matters handled by other professionals. The firm prides itself on fostering a family-like culture. My colleagues are professional, competent, and, importantly, kind to one another. I wondered before my start date if I would receive the support I need, since I was both new to the firm and the practice area. However, I never should have worried because my colleagues are always available on Zoom and are always open to me asking questions.

If ever there was a silver lining, the COVID-19 pandemic has solidified what I already knew – flexibility in the workplace drives productivity. I think it has proven the same point to the firm. We’ve remained productive and are still able to access all of the resources we need to do our jobs. You don’t need a brick-and-mortar environment to get the work done, and most importantly, you don’t need a brick-and-mortar environment to onboard a new attorney.

I look forward to building my career at FLIP. My onboarding definitely did not go as expected, but we made it work – quite well in fact. To those of you reading this – I look forward to working with you.

FLIP is and remains a WBE-Certified women-owned business, specializing in intellectual property and corporate law. We can be reached by email or phone at [email protected] and +1-312-724874; and you can find more information on our website, www.flip.law. We look forward to being of service.


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