Thought For The Day

If a man wants his dreams to come true, he must wake them up. (Also true for a woman!)

Thought For The Day | Comment

Achieving Gender Diversity from One of America’s Top Lawyers

Mary Cranston is one of America’s best-known women lawyers — or just plain best-known lawyers.  She was a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and served as its Chairman of the Board.  She has been named one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal, one of two “Best Law Firm Leaders in the United States” by Of Counsel and has been profiled as “One of the Best Female Antitrust Lawyers in the World” by Global Competition Review. She was the 2005 recipient of the prestigious Margaret Brent Award, the American Bar Association’s highest award for women lawyers, who demonstrate legal excellence and help pave the way for other women lawyers.

So, when Mary Cranston speaks, people listen.  She recently spoke to an audience in New Zealand, and this article in LawFuel captures the essence of her message.   Here is what she has to say about achieving gender diversity in law practice.  I think you would agree that she knows the subject well and brings great experience and vision to the discussion.  She is starting at the top to identify the responsibilities that law firms must take in finding solutions to this important issue.  Here is a summary of what Mary Cranston has to say about achieving gender diversity in law firms:

3 Things Law Firms Need to Do to Achieve Gender Diversity:

  • Push from the top:  There must be leadership from the top not just lip service.  The leaders must understand unconscious bias.  An example is identifying women as having less potential for leadership unless there is an intervention.  Women get perceived as specialists with no bandwidth.  All leadership and all employees, up and down the line, need to be aware of unconscious bias.
  • Put the women in the top jobs and let them prove themselves.  Give them a chance instead of making unfounded assumptions.
  • Give women gender training so that they can recognize and control gender stereotyping better.  Women have some of the same gender stereotypes about themselves that men have about them, and that is why women have inner doubts about their competencies.  They have to be taught how to avoid those stereotypes and not play into them.

Think about it and discuss it in your law firm’s Women’s Initiative and Diversity Committee.  Also discuss it in your bar associations, especially your women’s bar associations.

Pass it on and make it work for all of us!



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

Thought For The Day

Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those [birds] that sang best.

Henry Van Dyke

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Thought For The Day

Fires can’t be made with dead embers, nor can enthusiasm be stirred by spiritless men. Enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort and turns even labor into pleasant tasks.

James Baldwin

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Is Being Waitlisted for Law School Your Problem?

It is that time of year again.  Prospective students have applied to law schools, and some are being waitlisted.  That can be both a hopeful and a frustrating experience, depending on the school and the applicant’s expectations, and there is a certain amount of protocol you should know to handle the situation wisely and adeptly.  “Storming the Bastille” and sending the waitlisting school reams of additional paperwork and electronic files — evidencing your credentials and acceptance worthiness — may not be the best idea.

So, what it the best way to handle being waitlisted?  Fortunately, this question has been asked and answered many times, but this may be your first encounter with it.  In that case, I recommend the following article to you.

“Waitlisted by Law Schools?  5 Tips on Maximizing Your Chances of Getting In” appeared on the Above the Law blog recently, and it contains some pretty good guidance on issues like Supplemental Essays or Materials, Letters of Continued Interest, Additional Recommendations, and more fundamental issues like the importance of taking time off before entering law school and considerations in the transfer decision.

Although you may think that you have the answers on these issues, don’t be surprised to find that you may be a little off-base.  At the very least, it is a good read to sharpen your focus as you go through the agonizing waiting period.  It can take most of the summer to get accepted off a law school waitlist, and the temptation is to do something to get the attention of the admissions dean and the admissions committee.  Not so fast!  Or, if you do go that route, make sure that you are following a prudent path that may actually result in success.  Resist the temptation for gimmicks, and try to put yourself in the positions of the decision-makers.  How would your proposed acceptance tactic “play in Peoria” so to speak?

My favorite part of the Above the Law article addresses the subject of additional recommendations.  Much of the advice was based on an interview with a former admissions dean at a very prestigious law school.  Here are some things from that interview to consider before requesting an additional letter of recommendation:

  • Assess your application “holistically” to identify weaknesses and reasons that you were waitlisted.  Think about adding a letter of recommendation that can bolster your application on that particular issue;
  • Try to figure out what your other recommenders have said about you and use that information to calculate the likelihood that another letter from that same person would be helpful; and
  • In asking for the additional recommendation, make if very clear what you need the proposed writer to say on your behalf.  If the proposed writer is reluctant to say that, you need to know it and find someone else to help you out.

As you can see, it takes a lot of thought.  This is no time for impetuous action.  Read the article, factor in your particular circumstances, and make an informed decision.

Waiting is difficult.  But patience is a virtue.








Career Counselors, Law School Educators, Pre-law | Comment

Thought For The Day

It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.

George Horace Lorimer

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Thought For The Day

Remember Boston!  Strength, courage and resolve.  Lessons for us all.

Thought For The Day | Comment

Values- Based Leadership is a Good Fit For Women Lawyers

You know that leadership is one of my favorite themes.  When you develop leadership that is “values based,” it is a home run in almost every case.   Values-Based Leadership (VBL) is a leadership philosophy that goes beyond evaluating success by prestige, personal wealth and power. It is founded on identifying what matters to you, what you stand for and what is most important in your life. Knowing your values and determining your purpose from those values makes decisions about life and leadership easier.

Why are values important?  You need to know your values so that they can guide your sense of purpose.  Without purpose we may as well be ships lost at sea.  So, the logical place to start is with your values.  What are yours?  Or, more fundamentally, what is a “value” at all?  You may think that you know, but you also may need a refresher course.

Values are the things that we find important and respectable as individuals, what is at the essence of who and what we are, and what gives us purpose. Values are different from ethics and morals.  Each person’s values are unique to that person, and most people have between five to seven core values each.  Examples of values are adventure, growth and risk taking, sensitivity to the feelings of others, trustworthiness, innovation and security.   True values are those that guide us in our personal lives as well as our professional lives.  The sense of purpose that we get from knowing our values makes us good leaders.  (Unless, of course, those core values are dark and evil, and that is an entirely different matter!)

When we align our behavior with our values on a daily basis, we have more energy and present as more authentic because we are leading from what’s important to us.  And, make no mistake, those who you are leading know the difference.  They can spot a phony a mile away.  As long as your motives are good, they care less about your particular values and more about how you authentically portray those values.  We all like to follow a leader we admire because it makes us feel good about our choice, good about ourselves, and good about our mission.

You need to purposefully remind yourself of your values, and, you need to evaluate big decisions, like job offers, promotions and work-life dilemmas, with those same values in mind.  To be a good leader of others, you need to be a good leader of yourself.

Values-Based Leadership seems to be a good fit for women lawyers.  It is the type of introspective thinking that women gravitate toward, and it is very useful in learning how to work on teams and find solutions among divergent opinions.  Understanding your own values and those of others — and what makes each of you “tick” — is an important tool in both your personal and professional lives.

For more on Values Based Leadership, see this article and those that follow in the series from Anne Loehr & Associates: Developing Authentic and Transformational Leadership.

Good luck in getting in touch with your values and your purpose.  Let it lead you and others where you want to go.

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