“Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Spotlight! is being expanded. It is time that Best Friends at the Bar spotlighted organizations that are promoting women lawyers as well as the women lawyers themselves. With this new platform in mind, there could not be a better group to spotlight than Ms. JD, a group with the official description of “Women of the legal profession standing together, rising together.”
I am wild about this group of young women lawyers and law students and the success and visibility it has gained in a relatively short time. I support this group through my permission to reprint my blogs on the Ms. JD website, and I attend and contribute to many of the valuable programs that Ms. JD sponsors around the country.
In the interest of full disclosure, I also was the recipient of the Ms. JD Sharing Her Passion Award at the 2015 Annual Conference in San Francisco. The picture is of me giving acceptance remarks at the awards ceremony. I am so proud to have Ms. JD recognize the value of the Best Friends at the Bar program to its members and all young women lawyers.
Here’s the Ms. JD story from the website:
Ms. JD is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the success of aspiring and early career women lawyers. Ms. JD is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of law students and recent graduates and supported by a small group of independent contractors. Founded at Stanford Law School in 2006 by a group of female law students from Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley), Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, NYU, Stanford, UCLA, UT Austin, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia, and Yale, Ms. JD is a 501(c)(3) incorporated in California.
Serving as a unique nexus between the profession and the pipeline of diverse attorneys, Ms. JD’s online community provides a forum for dialogue and networking among women lawyers and law students. With campus chapters throughout the nation, Ms. JD is also home to the National Women Law Students’ Organization. Ms. JD celebrates women’s achievements, addresses remaining challenges, and facilitates continued progress by bringing legal practitioners and law students together to share in an ongoing conversation about gender issues in law school and the profession.
I am also proud that my law school, Georgetown Law, was one of the schools that helped launch Ms. JD. Go Hoya Women Lawyers!
So, hat’s off to Ms. JD and all the wonderful work it is doing here and across the globe with its new international programs. Read about it on the Ms. JD website.
I was both amazed and inspired when I read an article about the recent passing of a beloved Massachusetts judge at the age of 94. Positive role models are so important to career success, and they do not get much more positive than Judge Mary Muse. What a life! You will recall my last blog on women over fifty, well here is one woman over fifty who made every moment count and left an incredible legacy.
Mary Muse was a fierce advocate for women in the legal profession. She knew the challenges well. She raised four children during her years at Boston College Law, where she graduated in 1950, and three of those children were born when she was in law school. About the challenges to women in the law, she said, “There are no barriers, just obstacles. And obstacles are opportunities.”
Judge Muse had seven more children after graduating from law school — for the record, that totals eleven children — and seven of those children followed their mother (and father) into the legal profession. Her daughter said that “every one of us felt like we were the only one in her eyes when we needed her.” One look at Judge Mary Muse’s picture, and you can believe it. The loving kindness leaps out at you from the photo.
She was 62 years old when she first was appointed to the bench, and she went to great lengths to encourage more women to become judges. According to one contributor to the obituary, she spent years instilling the confidence in women to realize what they had to contribute.
A life like hers is hard to imagine. Most of us have two or three children today and consider it a lifetime achievement to combine that with a career. And it is. But, if there was a superwoman, who paved the way for all of us, it had to be Mary Muse. It does not diminish our own accomplishments to recognize that.
It is important to note that Judge Mary Muse also had a strong female role model. Her mother was a physician when that was a rarity among women. Dr. Mary Moore Beatty was the first woman to serve as a school physician in Boston and the first woman appointed as a trustee at Boston City Hospital.
Clearly, the apple did not fall far from the tree.
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”
Richard David Bach
I can’t resist sharing a blog, which appeared in Huffington Post yesterday. The author was responding to an article about why women over fifty are invisible. The author thinks it is hogwash, and so do I. One day you will be facing these choices, so pay attention. You must prepare early not to be invisible, whatever your age. It is all about attitude and self-confidence. Here are excerpts from the blog:
“The other day I stumbled upon an article in Salon written by Tira Harpaz. The author’s pedigree was impeccable: a graduate of Juilliard, Princeton University and Fordham Law School, a mother of three, and a former attorney who now runs a college admissions guidance business. You would expect a woman of this stature to write from a place of empowerment, would you not? Instead, she penned a piece called “Women Over 50 Are Invisible.” Harpaz writes that anyone can be made to feel invisible if they’re put in “the shoes of an over-50 woman,” and goes on to recount copious scenarios that have made her feel value-less, beginning when a younger man on a train shot her a disinterested glance.
The article was full of anecdotes like that, and the more I read, the more depressed I felt. I didn’t feel depressed because I related. I felt depressed because I loathe the power that stale older-women-are-invisible narrative wields. The writer should have been basking in the glow of a half-century well-spent, but she sounded more like someone in desperate need of Prozac. Here was a smart, accomplished woman who’d had the benefit of a five-star education and a brilliant career, whose self-worth had vanished with the advent of menopause. She writes:
Passersby would simply not see me when I walked down the street. People I met at parties would look slightly disappointed and then look past me, and gradually, I began to shrink inside.
I asked myself why I don’t feel invisible, at 52. I’m a financially stressed single mother who lives in an apartment, works a full-time job, a part-time job, and writes a blog. And yet I don’t feel invisible. I feel like I can compete with younger women for male attention and am surprised when I walk into a room and a man doesn’t look at me. I never wonder what’s wrong with me; I wonder, what the hell’s wrong with him?
So how did I miss this dismal memo? How have I reached the grand old age age of 52 still feeling desirable … in a far more durable and meaningful way than I did in my 20s? …
Shrugging off society’s death knell to mature women takes audacity, something every 50-plus woman needs if she doesn’t want to go gently into that good night. Feeling invisible stems less from one’s appearance, and more from the value we put on other people’s often shallow judgments of middle-aged women. I think it’s my refusal to listen to the messages telling me I’ve passed my expiration date, and my determination to create a brilliant second act, that makes me seem younger than my years.
And proudly, defiantly visible.”
So, there you have it. Hear, hear! I could not have said it better myself. There is a lot of life to be lived after 50 — I should know! Living it on your own terms is the key.
How long do you want to practice law — or reinvent yourself into another kind of practice or spin-off? I have done it so many times I cannot count them. I went from teacher to military wife to lawyer to public servant to author/speaker and more in between. Each iteration of my life has been interesting and exciting and full of promise. It is what you make it. The bedrocks of confidence and attitude will assure aging with grace and aplomb and wide-eyed wonder! Cultivate them now so that it will be second nature to you when the time comes.
And the time will come — yes, even to you. And you will be ready for it!
Bonne chance. I hope you have the ride of your life.
“We make a life by what we give.”
Sir Winston Churchill
“It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars.”
Richard Paul Evans
You have heard of the Sandwich Generation, right? The generation of women, who have responsibility for their children and also for their aging parents and family members. Although I am technically no longer “raising my children,” I still can relate to the challenges and struggles of those of you who are, and I definitely am helping to care for my nearly 100-year-old Mom. Some of you may be actively engaged with raising children and caring for aging adults, and I wish you well. It is a lot of work.
Mom recently broke her hip, and I made an emergency run to the Midwest to care for her. While I was there, I read a blog on the Above the Law website that drove home the meaning of Sandwich Generation once again. The author of the article made the case that litigation should be conducive to a flex-time schedule as long as all players, associates and partners alike, put operations in place to reduce unnecessary “fire drills.” Here is an excerpt from that article:
Unfortunately, the court is not an associate’s only master. If the judge is the king, the partner is the sheriff. And even if the king is benevolent, the sheriff can make life very, very unpleasant. Case in point: how many associates know the pain of diligently researching and drafting a brief for weeks before it’s due, getting the draft to the partner a week before the deadline, conscientiously following up once or twice a day, starting to sweat as the time trickles away, and then being handed a mark-up of your draft the morning of the deadline, with so many edits that the pages may as well be bleeding? The partner knows the filing deadline is midnight, so it should be plenty of time for the associate to make the edits. And it always is — we manage to get it done even if it kills us.
This is a perspective that needs to be discussed more, and I have included it in my new book, Best Friends at the Bar: Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, which will be released later this year. In fact, you will find one of my anecdotes there that is very similar to what the blog author relates — but it could have cost me my license to practice. All because of a “bad sheriff partner.”
Real leaders, the ones who want to develop the considerable talent that women lawyers represent, will pay attention to these discussions. There is a lot that can be managed better at the partner level that will make the team effort easier and the goals more achievable. And it is not rocket science or walking over hot coals. It is organization and prioritization. It is planning and consideration. It is getting procrastination in check. It is, as the author of the blog states, to avoid the “completely unnecessary fire drills.” Wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air!
Check the article out and tell me what you think. Have you had experiences like this?