Thought For The Day

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.

Rachel Naomi Remen

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What Young Women Lawyers Should Look For in a Law Firm

Are you still in the throes of on campus and off campus interviews?  Are you having fun yet?

If experience guides me well, many of you still are in the process of interviews for summer jobs and associate positions after graduation, and many of those interviews are with law firms.  Here are some suggestions on what young women lawyers should look for in a law firm.

  • Pay attention to the dynamics of the firm.  Are men and women professionals interacting, and is the dynamic compatible with your work style?
  • Is there evidence of healthy work-life balance or do most of the lawyers lead what appear to be workaholic lifestyles?
  • Who controls the conversations and are women’s opinions respected in those conversations?
  • Is there a respectful environment for women lawyers and women non-lawyers?
  • Are women represented at positions of law firm leadership and management?
  • Is there a Women’s Initiative or a Diversity Committee and does the firm take those efforts seriously and invest in them?
  • Are both male and female lawyers mentoring young women lawyers?
  • Are women represented at all levels of the firm and not just at the associate and of counsel levels? 
  • Are women associates, even those with part-time or flexible schedules, getting quality work?
  • Do the women of the firm support each other?; and
  • Is there evidence of gender discrimination and stereotyping of women, including unconscious bias?

Pay attention to these things.  If you feel uncomfortable asking senior associates or partners questions about some of these matters, take your questions to a different level.  Ask a more junior associate out for a drink, and hope that he or she will be candid in response to your questions.  Your future may depend on it.

Most of all, good luck! 

Career Counselors, Law School Educators, Law Students, Lifestyle, Practice Advice, Young Lawyer | Comment

Thought For The Day

We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.

Diogenes of Sinope
Greek Philosopher

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Thought For The Day

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the courage to surpass others at whatever cost, but the courage to serve others at whatever the cost.

Arthur Ashe

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What Happens After Maternity Leave is a Challenging Experience

Returning to law practice after having a baby is one of the most difficult times in the work-life challenge that women lawyers experience.  It is a confusing and sleep-deprived time for these women, and they could use a little understanding of their situations.

To help them through it, I have enlisted the help of Lori Mihalich-Levin, a Georgetown Law grad, the Director of Hospital and GME Payment Policies at the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the founder of Mindful Return, a blog and e-course designed to help new mother-lawyers returning to work after maternity leave feel present and empowered.  Here is what Lori has to say:

Helping New Mother-Lawyers Return to Work After Maternity Leave

I thought I had done some pretty challenging things in life.  I wrote a senior thesis in college…moved to a foreign country where I didn’t know anyone …passed the bar exam…worked at a few huge law firms…But none of these experiences held a candle to the challenges I faced going back to work after maternity leave.  After having my body turned upside down and inside out, becoming completely and utterly responsible for another human being, and not sleeping for months on end (all while being mesmerized by a beautiful baby I adored), I headed back to a job I really liked.  My initial approach?  “Catch up” on everything I had missed as quickly as possible, and pretty much carry on as though life hadn’t changed.  It didn’t work.  And I crumbled.

After I picked myself up out of my puddle of sleep-deprived tears (many times) and learned a thing or two about how to cope with overwhelm, I became passionate about helping other new mothers in the same boat I was in.  I am convinced that there are LOTS of conversations missing from our workplace dialogs about how to go back to work after maternity leave in a calm and empowered way — including tips new mothers needed to know and information about communities of new working moms that needed to be created.

Chances are, many of you reading this are not currently pregnant (but, if you are pregnant, please check out my e-course designed just for you!).  But chances also are that you have a friend, colleague, associate, business partner, mentee, or mentor who currently is pregnant and could use this information.  To you, I offer a few pieces of advice, on how to help the new mothers in your life feel strong at a time when their worlds likely have been turned upside down:

  • Believe in her for the long haul, and remind her of her strengths.  The chaos of the first few months after coming back to work is completely discombobulating.  Dare I say, a new mother-lawyer might feel she’s lost her brains.  Her edge.  Her mind.  Her ability to function.  All this of course gets better as the months go on, and she may need a reminder that she still has those bright, passionate, and creative juices she’s been proud of in the past;
  • Encourage her to take credit at work for a well-planned maternity leave and return.  Whether she is currently pregnant or just coming back from leave, encourage her to build her leave into the annual goals and review process at her workplace.  Can she set a goal around going on leave in an organized, responsible way, with good hand-offs and solid communication with her colleagues?  At evaluation time, can she take credit for all the work she did to make the transition a success when she comes back?  Help her see her leave experience as something she can be proud of and as a normal part of human existence, rather than time she “missed” being able to excel at work; and
  • Help her connect with other returning mother-lawyers.  Sometimes, “me too” can be the most powerful words in the English language.  But many new working mothers get isolated.  For good reason, they put their heads down, work their tails off, and just try to get through the day.  I’ll speak for myself in saying I felt pretty alone in my return to work, even though there were other women I could have connected with.  So I’d ask you to help her find other mothers she can talk to about this experience.  And help convince her that connecting doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment.  But that it can be a huge sanity saver.

New mothers, especially new mother-lawyers, need all the help they can get, and your encouragement, engagement, and support at this critical time will make a huge world of difference.

Thank you, Lori.  This is great advice.  As Lori suggests, pass it on to all the new mother-lawyers in your life.  You will be doing them a favor.

Lori Mihalich-Levin, JD, is the founder of Mindful Return, a blog and e-course designed to help new mothers returning to work after maternity leave feel present and empowered – both with their babies and in their careers.  By day, she is also the Director of Hospital and GME Payment Policies at the Association of American Medical Colleges.  She is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center and proud mom to one-year-old and three-year-old redheaded boys.

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Thought For The Day

We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.

Maya Angelou

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Thought For The Day

Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.

Spencer Johnson

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New Women’s Legal Network to Launch in UK

Let’s hear it for the young women lawyers in London.  They are gathering together to engage talent and to promote the next generation of female solicitors.  Bravo!  I will wave my Union Jack for that!

The group, known as Women in Law London (WILL), seems to be the first of its kind in the UK.  The target membership is female solicitors at the pre-partnership level in both private firms and in-house.  The five young women organizers have grit and foresight.   Their concerns are for the low retention rates for women lawyers in the UK and having options available for women who entertain leaving the profession.  They are quoted in a recent edition of The Lawyer as being “passionate about ensuring talent retention at the highest level, but also [recognising] that women in law will also have individual and varied ultimate goals.”

For me, there is a welcomed echo in the room.  The goals of WILL sound remarkably similar to those of Best Friends at the Bar, and I am really pleased to know that there is a mirror image of my project across “The Pond.”   I am particularly impressed that these young women “got with it” earlier in their careers than I did, and I applaud them for those early and timely instincts and efforts.

The official launch of WILL is scheduled for October17, 2014 with a networking event, which will include a speech by Fiona Woolf, the Lord Mayor of London and former law partner at CMS Cameron McKenna.  Quarterly networking forums, as well as discussion panels and guest speaker events, are being planned as follow-up events.

Congratulations to the women lawyers of WILL!  I wish them the best of luck in this exciting venture.

To find out more about WILL, read this article in The Lawyer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Career Counselors, Law Firm Managers, Law School Educators, Law Students, Practice Advice, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | Comment