August 2023

Let Your Yes Be Yes and Your No Be No

Written by

Paul M. Floyd

July 1, 2023

Draft #1

This screenplay is under full copyright of
Paul M. Floyd. All rights reserved.



We OPEN on a modern suburban home.



A small social gathering of adults is taking place. The room is filled with lively conversations and laughter. There is one empty chair. PAMELA, the host, a mid-30s female, rises and walks to the door as a knock is heard. She opens it to reveal ADAM, a smartly dressed man in his mid to late 30s, holding a gift of flowers and a bottle of wine.


Sorry I’m late. I was actually sitting in my car finishing a call with a client I couldn’t get to earlier because I had two MSBA meetings today. But I--

PAMELA interrupts ADAM.  


Well, better late than never. Come on in. There are some friends I want you to meet.

PAMELA takes the flowers and wine bottle from ADAM and turns to the group.


Hey, everyone, let me introduce ADAM, he’s a lawyer and a good guy.


Isn’t that an oxymoron?

A few guests chuckle, while ADAM maintains a polite smile.


Don’t be mean. ADAM, come sit over here by me.

ADAM takes a seat next to BARBARA, a mid-50s woman dressed in a very chic shawl. BARBARA leans in and speaks softly to ADAM.


So, you’re a lawyer and a good guy. Nice to meet you, ADAM. I’m BARBARA. PAMELA and I are on the Arts Board together and she has told me all about you. Well, we have a rare opening on our Board and we need a lawyer just like you. It will be great for your business; you gotta say yes.


That’s interesting. I've actually done some trademark work for artists. I’m pretty busy at the moment, though, what with work, friends, and my other responsibilities.


You’ll love it. We need an attorney with your smarts and great reputation. We only meet once in a while, so you really won’t have much to do. It’ll be easy and we really need you.

ADAM contemplates for a moment, the weight of his current commitments evident in his expression.


Well, it sounds interesting. Let me talk with my partner CHRIS and I will get back to you.


I understand. Take your time. The Executive Director will call you next week. It will be great having you on our Board. See you next month.

BARBARA gets up, leaving ADAM sitting alone on the couch. He lets out a sigh and mutters under his breath.


If you were ADAM, which of the following would you do:

A.   Accept the board position. It’s a small ask and could be an opportunity to bring in more business. Your life is busy but you can find a way to squeeze in one more thing.

B.    Accept the board position but don’t tell Chris. You’re on so many boards and committees, he really doesn’t keep track anyway.

C.    Accept the board position. You probably don’t have to show up for every meeting.

D.   Resign from a committee or board you don’t like very much so that you can take on this new thing.

E.    Turn down the position. Your time is maxed out; perhaps the opportunity will come up again in the future. 

As lawyers, we are asked to join many worthy organizations, boards, and projects. As MSBA members, we have outstanding opportunities to participate in sections, committees, and bar social events. These endeavors promise many benefits: advancing our careers, building personal and professional friendships, and expanding our referral networks —all the while having fun.

But saying Yes to these opportunities presents its own set of challenges. As busy lawyers, our time is limited, and we must carefully consider the trade-offs when taking on new endeavors. Saying Yes carries an implicit promise that you will show up, do the work, and be fully engaged. It requires carefully evaluating your other commitments, whether those are your obligations to client matters, ongoing projects, personal desires, or additional requests that come your way. It becomes crucial to strike a balance between work, family, socializing, and personal well-being. As lawyers, we often feel compelled to say Yes to prove our capabilities and demonstrate that we can handle any task presented to us. Saying Yes to too many compelling requests or feeling unable to decline, however, can quickly lead to a chaotic, frantic, and exhausting life.

Conversely, saying No can be strangely challenging for many of us. Perhaps it is FOMO (fear of missing out). We may think that if we say No now, we won’t be asked again. Perhaps we don’t want to disappoint people. Or maybe we just suffer from the planning fallacy—the tendency to chronically over-estimate our capacity to handle all the tasks we’ve said Yes to. Or maybe we recall the time we did decline and found ourselves questioning and doubting our decision.

Truthfully, although volunteers are the lifeblood of the MSBA and other organizations, no one wants a committee of Yeses who should have been Noes. The work simply cannot get done when volunteers are so overburdened that they cannot consistently attend meetings, share in drafting documents, and take on other tasks.

At a recent bar leaders’ conference, a speaker emphasized that “No” is a complete sentence. In other words, when you say No, you do not have to justify your decision. A well-considered No is a valid response. Saying No frees up our time, resources, and energy, allowing us to say Yes to activities that truly bring us joy and fulfillment.

There is no single right answer to ADAM’s dilemma. Mastering the art of saying Yes and No as a lawyer requires self-awareness, discernment, and the courage to prioritize our own well-being. As the bar year continues, when bar-related opportunities arise, respond with a confident Yes if you are capable and a firm No if you are not. We as bar leaders will support your decision to say No and ask how we can help you fulfill the commitment in saying Yes.


2023-MSBA-President-Paul-FloydPaul Floyd is one of the founding partners of Wallen-Friedman & Floyd, PA, a business and litigation boutique law firm located in Minneapolis. Paul has been the president of the HCBA, HCBF, and the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He lives with his wife, Donna, in Roseville, along with their two cats.

Steve Perry
(612) 278-6333


Adverting Manager
Erica Nelson
(763) 497-1778


Classified Ads
Jackie Duvall-Smith
(612) 333-1183

Art Director
Jennifer Wallace
(612) 278-6311