Writing for the Journal: Q&A With Lauren Sharkey

By David Alexander

June 19, 2024

Writing for the Journal: Q&A With Lauren Sharkey


By David Alexander

Head shot of Lauren SharkeyLauren Sharkey is a partner at Cioffi, Slezak & Wildgrube, a women-owned and -operated law firm in Schenectady, N.Y.

She serves on the New York State Bar Association’s Executive Committee and is a past chair of the Young Lawyers Section. Sharkey is a member of the Elder Law and Special Needs Section and the Trusts and Estates Law Section’s Executive Committees. She is also on the board of the New York Bar Foundation.

A lifelong Capital District resident, Sharkey was appointed to a five-year term to serve on the Character and Fitness Committee for the 3rd Judicial District in 2019 and was selected as a rising star in the areas of estate planning and probate by SuperLawyers.com from 2019–22.

Sharkey recently discussed how writing for the New York State Bar Association Journal has helped in other areas of her professional life. She also offered some advice for first-time and young authors.

Sharkey originally agreed to write for the Bar Journal because her colleagues encouraged her to do so. She said they advocated for her to help the Bar Association in any way possible, so having an article published aligned with that goal. She added that producing a Bar Journal story has been professionally beneficial by providing an avenue to spread awareness about her firm’s and her own work.

Q: What is your writing process?

A: I like to put an outline together of general ideas and go from there. I then do my research and put anything I come up with into the outline before I begin writing and editing.

Q: What was it like collaborating with the Journal editors throughout the process?

A: I remember submitting my first draft and was given great direct feedback that really helped me reshape the article into something better. At first, I was a bit sad that the editor wasn’t floored by my article (ha ha!). My advice to writers would be to take the feedback with an open mind and know that it’s coming from a place of trying to get the most out of you, not to discourage you at all. And in my case, it made the article much better.

Q: How has the writing process for the Bar Journal helped you in other areas?

A: It has given me the confidence to research, write and submit articles for publication more often.

Q: What do you find fulfilling about writing for the Bar Journal?

A: Writing is an intellectually stimulating process that helps refine my organizational skills. Having something published provides me with a great sense of accomplishment. It is an exciting moment when the edition arrives in the mail.

Q: What is special about having a story published in the Bar Journal?

A: I shared some personal information about my own journey with estate planning, including naming my spouse and kids in my article. It was fun to share it with them.

Q: How do you incorporate elements of your professional and/or personal experiences into your writing?

A: I tried to “stay in my lane” for my article by relying on the experience of my practice while incorporating my personal story as well.

Q: What are some of your strategies for editing and revising your work?

A: I need to have time and space to write. I will then often put it away for a day or two before looking at it again. I also have my husband proofread for me – he was an English major!

Q: What advice would you give to a first-time or young author?

A: First and foremost, I would say be brave! Don’t be afraid to tackle an issue and share your expertise with a wide audience.

Q: What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you? How do you handle it?

A: The most difficult part is just getting started. I try to begin when I’m in a good headspace, meaning that when I’m not under a lot of stress with work and other obligations.

Q: How do you maintain motivation to continue working on an article?

A: Well, there are always deadlines, but more importantly I’m always thinking about my audience and what I want to convey to them.

Q: What do you believe are the key ingredients for a compelling story?

A: The most important piece is to have a thought-provoking introduction to immediately draw in the reader. You also need to have some compelling facts and analysis, and you must ensure that the story flows from one paragraph to another so that your audience can effortlessly comprehend the points you are aiming to make. Personally, I also always try to add some humor where I can.

You can read Lauren Sharkey’s article here: nysba.org/you-need-an-estate-plan-now-the-futures-not-what-it-used-to-be.

For information on submitting to the Journal, please see www.nysba.org/bar-journal-article-submission/, or send a query to [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!

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