Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.
Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.
The National Law Journal (NLJ) has just published its annual report on the 50 law schools that NLJ 250 law firms relied upon the most to fill their first-year associate classes during 2011. This report also includes information on the law schools that saw the most alumni promoted to partner at NLJ 250 firms in 2011. This is captioned “The Go-to Law Schools” because it details the law schools that are the most popular in terms of hiring for the NLJ 250. However, some of you are going to take the bait and look at it as the “Do Not Go to Law School” report. I think that would be an overreaction, and here is why.
This report, see the link below, is worthy of your reading time. However, you do not have to have a bottle of your favorite spirit handy to get through it. Yes, the news is not that good, but maybe what this really means is that law students and recent law grads must be a little more introspective about what they really want to do with law degrees. That would be preferable to the former knee-jerk reaction to go to law firms for the money. I recently blogged about the various good reasons for going to law school, and I hope you saw it. (If not, you can find it in the archives dated 2-4-12.) Now, would-be lawyers may be forced to address the alternatives earlier rather than later. But, that is not a bad thing.
If this reminds you at all of the bad break up you had because you waited too long to face the music about you and your significant other, it should. Take stock early and when you see the troublesome signs—-whether they are coming from you or from circumstances, as in the case of the recession and current law firm hiring practices—and act accordingly. You will be saving yourself time, disappointment and even heartbreak in the long run.
Take a look at the NLJ article, and I will have some other observations about it later this week. And, feel free to keep a bottle of that favorite spirit handy. On second thought, you might find it helpful!
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.
The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.
Frank Loyd Wright
From time to time I read something that I do not even want to try to summarize here. It is just too good, and I do not have anything to add that would improve it. This is one of those times.
Here is a reprint of an article from yesterday’s Huffington Post on line that you will want to read. It goes way beyond women in the law, and that is what I like about it so much. It is a call to action for all women. I hope you enjoy it and share it with your friends—both females and those valued males who are supportive of women in leadership. After you read it, ask yourself what you can do to advance this cause. The possibilities are endless.
Last week, I found myself on Manhattan’s West Side in an exquisitely decorated loft owned by Winds of Change philanthropist Shamaya Gilo. Sixty powerhouse women were gathered together for wine and cheese and to strategize about how to support women’s leadership through cold-hard cash. The loft was filled with talented and accomplished women of wealth — women who were personally wealthy or those who pulled the strings at some of New York’s top financial institutions. Present in the room were wealth managers, venture capitalists, fixed income and equity traders, professional investors, lawyers, quants, mutual fund managers, bankers, heads of family foundations, philanthropists and market makers of all kinds and a couple of token (and sympathetic) males thrown into the mix. We had one thing in common: the drive and ambition to push more capable and accomplished women into the ring.
What is the “Ring?” It is the corporate boardroom, the C-Suite at Fortune 500 companies and top levels of financial institutions. The ring includes politics, finance, business and generally anywhere that women have been traditionally marginalized, which let’s face it, is everywhere that matters aside from the home front. The question we are asking is why are women deliberately kept out of key roles in world affairs and what can we do to change that?
The New York gathering of high-powered women, organized by Criterion Ventures under the direction of the indefatigable Jackie VanderBrug, encouraged women to invest in each other. Speaking to the crowd of well-heeled power women were Nada Jain (Golden Seeds), CJ Juhasz (ISIS Fund/Women’s World Banking), Jo-Ann Tan (Acumen Fund), Georgie Benardete (Multicultural Capital), Sally Boulter and Noelle St. Clair of Calvert Foundation who detailed each organization’s mission to empower women. The event marked a shift in action — we are tired of waiting for men to open the door for us. Ladies and gentlemen … in the 21st century, we are opening the doors for ourselves.
What makes the world go around is money. The Criterion Ventures model aims to put money behind women-centric ventures and entrepreneurs. (Women investing in Women.) We have seen how money in the wrong hands, evidenced by the global economic crisis, has thrown the scales of power completely out of whack and left behind whole portions of the population on both sides of the Atlantic. Women, it may come as no surprise, have fared worse than average. The poor are getting poorer and the majority of poor in the U.S. and around the globe are women. They are the last to get hired and earn substantially less than their male counterparts.
I am not going to pretend that I don’t think women should have seats of power. I am not going to play nice and say it doesn’t matter. I am not going to quietly and apathetically marginalize my own gender by politely acknowledging that men are wonderful and capable of handling world affairs without us. Yes, many men are wonderful and ladies what would we do without them? But what we would do with them as co-creators of the world is the real issue.
The first and critical question is: What would men do without women? I’ll start by answering that from my home turf in the U.S.
In the last twelve years since the end of the 20th century and the birth of the new, America has started two wars that have cost millions of people their lives and changed the world order permanently. We have given birth to a devastating global financial crisis that has plunged millions of innocents into starvation, joblessness and homelessness. The wars and the economic collapse have resulted in international chaos and unrest and launched movements of desperation like the 99 and 1 percent. All of these disastrous events occurred under male leadership– without the help or input of women. Gentlemen, you have done such damage to the world we share, why you continue on that path and do not see the wisdom of incorporating women into top leadership positions is beyond logic. Yet women continue to be disenfranchised.
So enough. Enough of testosterone-fueled aggression whether it is the violence of economic greed or the guns of bloody wars. It is time for western civilization to enter the enlightened age. Women are the key to a more sustainable world in the new millennium.
Why are women the key to changing the world for the better? Because very simply: we are the life-givers, not the life-destroyers. It is in our DNA to create and nurture life, not desecrate it. Yet somehow, despite the fact that we carry, create and protect life, women are raped, murdered, mutilated, marginalized and humiliated every second of every day somewhere in our world. The issue becomes which kind of world do we want to carry forward — one that destroys life or one that creates it? If the choice is the latter, then the inclusion of women is essential.
In my work at the United Nations over the past several years, I had the honor and privilege of knowing one of the great men in this world and a true champion of women: Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury. As President of the Security Council in 2000, the Ambassador introduced Resolution 1325 which endorsed urgently needed economic and educational opportunities for women. The resolution was the result of his experience as a diplomatic leader in Bangladesh where women were routinely violated physically and materially. His work has greatly advanced the plight of rural women around the globe.
Yet our work in this decade necessitates more than helping women. In very direct ways, the world desperately needs women to help it. We need every bit of TLC for people and our planet we can muster. For women, this is second nature. Strength is no longer measured in an enlightened world by brute force. True courage can be seen in the stoic stamina, tolerance, patience and big-picture vision of women.
Something Ambassador Chowdhury once said stuck in my mind. He explained that at UN mediations to resolve global conflicts, the men at the table invariably wanted to know, “What’s in it for me?” They would ask how the solution would affect them personally in power and privilege before giving their consent. Women, according to the Ambassador, were more concerned with what kind of world they were leaving for their children.
The stark difference in thinking jolted me and I realized this was true. Women naturally think in terms of creation and cooperation, not domination and aggression. These qualities, however, are a double-edged sword. In one way, this is precisely the reason we have been held back. In many ways, we have held ourselves back. We have not fought tough enough or hard enough to say: This is our world too; you don’t have the right to destroy it for me or my children.
In this century of women, we — the feminine gender — and the men who see us as friend, not foe, need to pool our resources, money, votes and support and put these behind women in leadership roles. Only with the direction and input of women can we build a more sustainable world based on mutual cooperation and constructive solutions.
We are proud of the women on the world stage handling the complex chaos around them with grace, brilliance and courage: the Hillary Clintons, Christine Lagardes, Angela Merkels and Ellen Johnson Sirleafs. But they can’t do it alone. They need our help — every one of us, male and female.
Hillary Clinton said of empowering women, “It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.” Jackie VanderBrug explains why: “Gender diversity [in companies, on corporate boards and in leadership roles] works for all of us. It allows you to see things that you would not otherwise see.”
The time to step up, step out and make our voices heard is now. Not a moment should be lost, because without our help and the feminine sense of balance and wisdom we naturally bring to problem solving, the world is a sad and sorry place. Our only hope for a better future lies in the power, appreciation and inclusion of women.
Monika Mitchell is the CEO of “Good-b,” New York’s award-winning CSR and sustainable business news journal and the co-author of a ground-breaking new book, “Conversations with Wall Street: The Inside Story of the Financial Armageddon and How to Prevent the Next One.”
If we all did the things we are capable of,
we would astound ourselves.
By now you know that I respect Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook executive, who has become a leading spokesperson for women in business, and that I think she is an excellent role model for women in both business and law. I have blogged about her in the past, and I love some of her coined phrases like “Lean in” and “Don’t leave before you leave.” I include some of those messages in my speeches and point young women lawyers and law students in Ms. Sandberg’s direction for her personal brand of wisdom.
Recently, however, Ms. Sandberg spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and coined a new phrase that I am not so sure about. She said that, “in the developed world we have an ambition gap at the personal level” and “we will never close the achievement gap until we close the ambition gap”. In other words, women are not as ambitious as men, and it is holding them back.
This has caused a bit of a stir, and I am throwing my spoon into the pot. I think that this is overly simplistic and ignores all of the extra responsibilities that women face at home and in raising children that men just do not have to worry about. Or, if the men personally think that they should worry about it, no one else seems to care when it comes to handing out promotions. The men certainly are not being held back because they do not jump in with their spouses to handle their own 50 per cent of the parenting and homemaking duties.
Rather than an ambition gap, I think that women professionals today have a time gap. I write about this in my new book where I try to give harried young women lawyers resources and role models to help them make the most out of the time they have. While it is true that the young women lawyers can hold their own with their male colleagues and very often outperform them, that all ends when the level playing field is tilted in favor of men with the addition of children to the work-life equation. That is when time and its finite quality wreaks havoc with the achievement picture.
It is not ambition, but time, that is the problem. Blaming it on a lack of ambition makes it sound a whole lot more solvable. Maybe that is the intention because it is pretty grim the other way around. Women can continue to be ambitious and do excellent work. Many times, however, they cannot continue to do excellent work all the time—the same number of hours a day that men are able to do it.
Sheryl Sandberg is a prophet of sorts, but I think she got it wrong this time. She is laying the blame at the feet of young women when, in fact, that blame should be laid just as squarely at the feet of law firm and business leadership. Until the people at the top of firms and companies—men and women alike— understand and respect the disparity in terms of opportunities for men and for women, women will not make the progress that they so richly deserve and which is critical for the healthy survival of business institutions.
Clearly, men cannot make all of the decisions correctly—who is the woman who does not recognize that?— and we had better figure out a way to keep a good number of women of the mother/caretaker variety at the table to develop into the leaders that we need.
So, I think Sheryl Sandberg succumbed to a sound bite. Even prophets get tired and discouraged. Some times they think they are not being heard, and they overpunctuate to get attention. This time it was not a good idea. Pointing the finger at women and telling them that they are not ambitious enough is counterproductive. You can tell them that they need to be more assertive, you can tell them that they need to take new client development more seriously, and you can tell them that they need to take on the establishment a little more. But, please do not tell them that they are not ambitious enough as a group. Instead, look at the facts.
They are plenty ambitious in the wee hours of the night when they are drafting legal memos, fixing the kids brown bag lunches for the next day and filling out the school applications. They are ambitious in a different way than men are, and that is not a bad thing. They plan and they prep and they keep all of the balls in the air. Those who just happen to have the perfect nanny, the perfect husband who does his share, or the perfect law firm eventually find their way to the top, and their ambition is recognized. Let’s not mix up the concepts of hard work and ambition.
What will make women who reach the top great leaders, however, is not just that they are ambitious. It is that they have compassion for others who choose a different path—those who take a different fork in the road— not out of lack of ambition but many times out of necessity. It is that compassion in our women leaders that will pull us forward in the end.
Insist on yourself. Never imitate.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I welcome public speaking opportunities to discuss key issues addressed in my Best Friends at the Bar books for women lawyers and What Millennial Lawyers Want: A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice for ALL young lawyers. My programs are consistently approved for CLE credits. If you would like to arrange a speaking engagement, please contact me at [email protected].
The presentations for women lawyers address the low retention rates for women lawyers due to lack of systemic support for the issues of work-life balance and gender parity that affect so many women lawyers. My research and conclusions detail the benefits of change for lawyers and law firms and the approach that young women lawyers take to their careers.
I speak on a wide range of subjects related to women lawyers. Here are some representative speech topics:
*The Low Retention Rates for Women Lawyers and What We Can Do About it;
*Effective Leadership for Women Lawyers;
*Effective Negotiations For Women Lawyers — For Clients and For Yourself
*Why Women Lawyers Leave;
*Why Law Firms Should Care about Retention and Advancement of Women Lawyers;
*What to Look for in a Law Firm and How to Succeed;
*The Role of Law Firm Leaders in the Success of Women Lawyers;
*Negative Leadership Behaviors and How They Impact Women Lawyers;
*How to Avoid the Pitfalls of a Male-Dominated Profession;
*Navigating the Gender Issues;
*How to Develop Personal Definitions of Success;
*The TO DO List for Success for Young Women Lawyers;
*The Art of Negotiations — for others and for yourself;
*The importance of Networking and Business Development;
*The Issues Surrounding Leaving the Profession and Re-entry;
*How to Create Balance Between Your Professional and Personal Lives;
*Myths Affecting Women Lawyers;
*How to Avoid the “Golden Handcuffs” of Private Law Practice and Keep Your Options Open;
*Pay Equity For Women Lawyers;
*Implicit Gender Bias and Its Relationship to Effective Leadership for Women Lawyers;
*How to Transition from One Practice Setting to Another.; and
*The Responsibility of Law Firm Leaders to “Lean In” on Retention Issues.
Here is what one audience member has to say:
The Women’s Bar Association of Maryland was honored to host Susan Blakely in September 2010 at the University of Baltimore School of Law to discuss her book. Susan is an interesting and personable woman who took the time to talk one on one with attendees before speaking. She truly is an inspiration to women lawyers – both brand new and seasoned alike – and has some amazing insight into surviving in the legal field. I only wish she had written her book before I went to law school! I would not only recommend it as a must read for any young woman contemplating a legal career, but as an attorney with 10 years of experience and a young family, it spoke to me as well.
The presentations for ALL young lawyers are non-gender specific and address what today’s young lawyers want, how young lawyers and law firms need to work together to meet the needs of today’s young lawyers and the Soft Skills young lawyers need to advance in their careers.
Remarks, Book Launch Event, Kirkland and Ellis, Chicago, February 2019
Speaker, Pro Bono Institute Conference, Washington DC, Spring 2019
Speaker, DC Women’s Bar Association, IP Group, Spring 2019
Speaker, DC Women’s Bar Association, Young Lawyers Group, Spring 2019
Past Speaking Engagements & Events
Speaker, Washington University School of Law, St. Louis, MO, October 2018
Speaker, Charlotte Women Lawyers, Charlotte, NC, February, 2018
Speaker, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher Law Firm, New York, NY, November 2017
Speaker, Oklahoma City Bar Association, Oklahoma City, OK, September 2017
Speaker, Womble Carlyle Law Firm, Washington, DC, April 2017
Keynote Speaker, Federal Bar Association Women Lawyers Conference, Tampa, FL, April 2017
Speaker, American Health Lawyers Association Conference, Baltimore, MD, March 2017
Speaker, Presidential Inaugural Scholarship Summit, Washington, DC, January 2017.
Speaker, Jackson Walker Law Firm, Dallas, TX, November 2016
Speaker, ACI Healthcare LawConference, Boston, MA, July 2016
Speaker, Simpson Thacher Law Firm, New York, NY, July 2016
Panelist, Federal Bar Association Women Lawyers Conference, New Orleans, LA, April 2016
Webinar Featured Speaker, Practising Law Institute (PLI) , March 30, 2016
Speaker, Catholic University Law, Washington, DC, March, 2016
Speaker, University of Baltimore School of Law, Baltimore, MD, March 2016
Guest, Your Working Life Podcast With Caroline Dowd-Higgins, February 2016
Speaker, University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore, MD, February 32016
Discussion Leader, NewLAWu.s. Legal Market Roundtable, New York, NY, September 2015
Panel Moderator, Georgetown Law Women’s Forum, Washington, DC, February 2015
Speaker, Women’s Business Roundtable, McLean, VA, January 2015
Speaker, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC, December 2014
Speaker, Georgetown University Alumni Career Services Webinar, November 2014
Speaker and Classroom Lecturer, Wake Forest University School of Law, Winston-Salem, NC, October 2014
Speaker, University of Washington School of Law, Seattle, WA, October 2014
Panelist, International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA), Seattle, WA, October 2014
Speaker, South Carolina Women Lawyer’s Association, Charleston, SC, October 2014
Keynote Speaker, Erie County Bar Association, Erie County, PA, September 2014
Webinar Speaker, Women in Business Superseries (UK), August 2014
Webinar Speaker, Georgetown University Alumni Career Services, August 2014
Keynote Speaker, University of Baltimore Law Women’s Bar Association, Baltimore, MD, April 2014
Webinar Panelist, American Bar Association Copyright and Trademark Section, March 2014
Panelist, WAPLA Pre-Law Conference, Denver, CO, March 2014
Speaker, Polsinelli Law Firm, Chicago, IL, February 2014
Speaker, Baylor Law School, Waco, TX, February 2014
Speaker, William & Mary Law School, Williamsburg, VA, November 2013
Guest, Voice America Radio with Host Chris Efessiou, September 2013
Speaker,Washington Women’s Weekly, Washington, DC, June 2013
Speaker, National Conference of College Women Student Leaders (AAUW), University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, May 2013
Speaker, Ladies DC, Washington, DC, May 2013
Speaker, Lerch Early & Brewer Law Firm, Bethesda, MD, May 2013
Guest, CBS Radio with Host Bonnie Marcus, April 2013
Panelist, George Washington University Women in Business Conference, Washington, DC, April 2013
Speaker, University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore, MD, April 2013
Speaker, College of the Holy Cross Pre-Law Program, Worcester, MA, February 2013
Keynote Speaker, Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, October 2012.
Speaker, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Detroit, MI, October 2012.
Panelist, Ms. JD National Conference, Washington College of Law, American University, Washington, DC, October 2012.
Speaker, National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations Leadership Summit, Chicago, IL, August 2012.
Speaker, National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (AAUW), University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, June 2012.
Speaker, Whiteford Taylor Preston Law Firm, Washington, DC, March 2012
Speaker, Washington and Lee University School of Law, Lexington, VA, November 2011
Panelist, American Bar Association Air & Space Law Conference, Washington, DC, October 2011
Speaker, University of Miami School of Law, Miami, FL, October 2011
Speaker, Holland & Knight Law Firm, Miami FL, October 2011
Speaker, Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami, FL, October 2011
Speaker, St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami Gardens, FL, October 2011
Panelist, George Mason University Law School, Arlington, VA, September 19, 2011
Speaker, DLA Piper Law Firm, Washington, DC, July 2011
Panelist, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, April 2011
Speaker, Seton Hall University School of Law, Newark, NJ, April 2011
Speaker, Marquette University Law School, Milwaukee, WI, April 2011
Speaker, University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison, WI, April 2011
Speaker, Georgetown Law, Washington, DC, March 2011
Panelist, University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore, MD, March 2011
Speaker, University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, VA, February 2011
Speaker, Paul Hastings Law Firm, Chicago, IL, December 2010.
Speaker, Polsinelli Shughart Law Firm, Chicago, IL, December 2010
Speaker, George Washington University Law School/DC Women’s Bar Association Joint Program, George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC, November 2010
Speaker, National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) Teleconference, October 2010
Speaker, University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law, Detroit, MI, October 2010
Speaker, University of Baltimore Law School/Maryland Women’s Bar Association Joint Program, Baltimore, MD, September 2010
Speaker, Virginia Women Attorney’s Association, Alexandria, VA, June 2010
Speaker, Crowell & Moring Law Firm, Washington, DC, March 2010
Keynote Speaker, Roger Williams University School of Law, Bristol, RI, March 2010
Speaker, American University Washington School of Law, Washington, DC, February 2010
Speaker, DLA Piper Law Firm Book Reception, Washington, DC, December 2009
Panelist, American University Washington College of Law Lawyer Re-Entry Program, American University Washington College of Law, Washington, DC, November 2008
Lawyer Monthly Women In Law Award, 2016
Ms. JD Sharing Her Passion Award, March 2015
Books by Susan Smith Blakely
Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers, 2009)
Best Friends at the Bar: The New Balance for Today’s Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers, 2012)
Best Friends at the Bar: Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers, 2015)
What Millennial Lawyers Want: A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers, 2018)
All books are available for purchase on this web site and through Amazon Books.
Articles by Susan Smith Blakely
ABA Journal, “Women Lawyers Must Be Careful What They Wish For,” http://www.abajournal.com/voice/article/gaining_in_influence_women_lawyers_must_be_careful_what_they_wish_for, December 20, 2018
ABA Business Law Today, “Good Law Firm Business: Protecting Millennial Talent,” https://businesslawtoday.org/2018/11/good-law-firm-business-protecting-millennial-talent/, November 15, 2018
Law360, “Losing Law Firm Talent at Both Ends,” https://www.law360.com/articles/1094538/protecting-law-firm-talent-at-both-ends-, October 30, 2018
Corporate Counsel, ” What Millennial Lawyers Want,” https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/2018/10/25/what-millennial-lawyers-want-a-bridge-from-the-past-to-the-future-of-law-practice/?slreturn=20180926090755
Lawyer & Statesman, “Flexible Work Models Should Improve Law Firm Culture,” , National Jurist, March 21, 2017
DC Women’s Bar Association Raising the Bar, “Recent Developments on Gender Pay Equity,” Raising the Bar, December 2016, http://www.wbadc.org//Files/Newsletters/2016-2017/WBA_RTB_2016-2017_Issue4_NovDec.pdf
Corporate Counsel, “Is Work-Life Balance a Hopeless Goal in the Legal Profession?,” September 2016, and reprinted in DC Women’s Bar Association Raising the Bar, October 2016, http://www.corpcounsel.com/id=1202760663523/Is-WorkLife-Balance-a-Hopeless-Goal-in-the-Legal-Profession-?slreturn=20160810140531 (archived and only available through Nexis Lexis)
Corporate Counsel , “What Millennial Lawyers Want,” October 2018, https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/2018/10/25/what-millennial-lawyers-want-a-bridge-from-the-past-to-the-future-of-law-practice/?slreturn=20180926090755
University of Michigan Website, “The Law School Decision,” https://careercenter.umich.edu/articles/popular/writing-better-bullet-points?…60…
Law 360, “Protecting Law Firm Talent at Both Ends”, October 2018, https://www.law360.com/articles/1094538/protecting-law-firm-talent-at-both-ends-
NALP Handbook for Pre-Law Advisors, “Special Challenges for Women Lawyers,” Book Chapter, , 2015
Noted and Quoted In:
Book Review: Above The Law: Review in Two Parts of “What Millennial Lawyers Want: A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice;” https://abovethelaw.com/2018/11/what-in-the-world-can-be-done-about-millennial-lawyers/, November 29, 2018 and https://abovethelaw.com/2018/12/millennial-lawyers-what-you-need-to-know-to-succeed/, December 13, 2018.
University of Wisconsin Alumni Magazine, Fall 2018, Goodreads, https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/43204524-wisconsin-alumni
American Assoc of Law Librarians – Book Review: https://aallspectrum.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/book-review-best-friends-at-the-bar/
Women’s Law Journal (WLJ) published by NAWL: Book 3 Review in Vol 101, No 1, page 32 (2016)
American Bar Association — Cites BFAB: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/litigation/materials/2014_sac/2014_sac/lean_in_for_lawyers.authcheckdam.pdf
Examiner Newspaper: /www.examiner.com/article/best-friends-at-the-bar-author-susan-smith-blakeley-says-women-can-have-it-all
Forbes Woman, www.forbes.com/sites/shenegotiates/2012/07/20/your-bff-at-the-bar-would-like-to-have-a-few-words-with-you/
Her Campus — How to Get Into Law School — http://www.hercampus.com/life/academics/how-get-law-school
Intern Queen: Speech Review: https://www.internqueen.com/blog/2015/02/people-inspiring-us-2015
LA Daily Journal: https://issuu.com/elizabethblakely/docs/dailyjournal
Law Insider: www.thelawinsider.com/insider…/five-things-women-can-learn-from-sheryl-sandberg
Lawyerist — Book Review — https://lawyerist.com/52562/best-friends-at-the-bar-the-new-balance-for-todays-woman-lawyer-book-review/
National Jurist: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/cypress/lawyerstatesman2016/#/16
Daily Muse –— Why Do Women Leave the Law: A Q and A: https://www.themuse.com/advice/why-do-women-leave-the-law-a-qa-with-susan-smit…
Huffington Post — Advice for Women Lawyers: www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-smith-blakely/women-lawyers_b_2155906.html
Law Bank – Book Review: law-bank.com/three-tips-for-women-in-law/
Law Society of Upper Canada: www.lsuc.on.ca/uploadedFiles/…/career_advancement_lawyer_August_2012(1).pdf
Litig8or – Advice for Women Lawyers: blog.litigatortechnology.com/…/best-friends-at-the-bar-an-interview-with-author-susa..
Media Bistro: http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowldc/book-party-best-friends-at-the-bar_b83709
PR Underground: www.prunderground.com/women-lawyers-leaving-profession-in-record…/007379/
TimeSolv: Book Review: https://www.timesolv.com/traversing-the-legal-world-as-a-female-attorney
Women’s Law Journal (WLJ) published by NAWL: Book Review of “Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law” in Volume 95, No. 2 (2010)
The Best Friends at the Bar Newsletter is published by subscription only. To be added to the mailing list, please e-mail [email protected] or subscribe through the website. The newsletter updates readers on issues affecting lawyers and law firm leadership and includes articles from guest contributors.
YouTube Videos,”Susan Smith Blakely” channel
Video of Presentation at Womble Carlyle, http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/592612/Recruiting
There are more female managing partners and women at leadership levels in law firms today than ever before, and many of the young women lawyers climbing the ladder of success behind them show promise for leading law firms of the future. Although progress in the retention and advancement of women lawyers has been slower than expected and gender parity in the practice has not been achieved, there is a lot to applaud.
Women lawyers must keep a focus on what matters most for them and for their profession as they advance in their careers. Female lawyers need to be reminded that they will have the greatest positive impact if they:
• Use their skills to advance not only their own careers but also the careers of other women lawyers.
• Work to create an inclusive profession for all lawyers, both male and female.
This sounds fundamental, and it is. But, there is great room for improvement by women lawyers on both counts.
Support for women by women is critical to achieve positive outcomes in law firms today. Too many senior women lawyers do not take enough interest in young women colleagues because of old school attitudes about what it took in the day for women to succeed in law practice before the advent of paid maternity leave, schedule flexibility and telecommuting opportunities. These “queen bee” lawyers refuse to acknowledge the work-life challenges for women with families, and they have influenced a follow-up generation of women law leaders, too many of whom now model that same kind of withholding behavior.
As pointed out in a recent article by Vivia Chen in The American Lawyer, the positive message that women in a variety of industries (including law) “watch out for each other and push progressive agendas” and that they are “more sensitive, more honest and just all around better people” because of these altruistic attitudes, is not true of enough women today.
If we want our profession to survive and prosper, and we know that survival is dependent upon the more than 50 percent of law school graduates today who are women, female lawyers must embrace attitudes of women supporting women with enthusiasm, purpose and resolve.
Women lawyers need to be positively invested in the careers of other women lawyers, women lawyers need to become mentors to other women lawyers, and senior women lawyers need to be content that they have made it in the profession and move over to share the spotlight and opportunities with junior women.
The senior women need to remember the words of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright when she said, “There is a special place reserved in hell for women who do not support other women.” Remember it and post it in their offices for constant reminder.
But that is not all. The attitudes of women lawyers toward male lawyers also need examining. They are equally as divisive and harmful to the profession.
When senior women lawyers become exclusive in their preferences to work with women over men, it is harmful to the profession. When departments full of women lawyers “freeze out” male practitioners in other ways because of built-up resentments, it is harmful to the profession.
And when that kind of “not-female” exclusion also is targeted to unsuspecting young male lawyers—who have had nothing to do with historical grievances—there is potential for even greater harm.
Most of the female lawyers exhibiting these behaviors are motivated by past gender inequalities. They are still smarting from old wrongs. In their negative and divisive actions toward male colleagues, they are failing to recognize that the excuse of “cluelessness” articulated by past generations of male lawyers to explain wrongful attitudes about gender inclusion is no defense for the exclusionary behaviors of women lawyers today.
Today’s powerful women lawyers are not clueless. They are not naive. They have borne witness to the sins of the past, and they know better than to repeat them.
They know exactly what they are doing to their male colleagues and how harmful grinding the ax of resentment can be. They understand that the oft-heard rallying cry, “We don’t need the men,” is short-sighted, imprudent and potentially harmful to our profession. But they don’t seem to be able to help themselves.
We women lawyers must be willing to examine ourselves and our motives. We must be willing to critique our attitudes and change our behaviors—for the good of all lawyers and the profession.
Recently when I was speaking at a conference of the Federal Bar Association, a senior woman judge told me, “The women lawyers are smart, capable, determined and hungry. They are gaining. Soon the men will decide not to compete and will leave firms for in-house positions or businesses or early retirement.”
She said this as if it would result in improvement for the profession. She stated it as a wise, aspirational goal. She said it in a way that made me believe she thought it was what I wanted to hear.
But it did not strike me that way. It struck me as very shallow and unfortunate. It struck me as a way of evening the score, and I could not help but wonder whether that is what we want.
Do we want a reorganization of the profession that will send us back to majority class rule and little in terms of empathy and respect for the other foundational values of our profession?
Do we want a reorganization of the profession based on divisive behaviors and unwillingness to pull together as women and men working toward mutual goals?
I don’t think so, but we need to be careful.
Our lack of professionalism and petty natures may be showing.
Susan Smith Blakely is a lawyer and founder of LegalPerspectives, an umbrella organization for her writing, speaking and consulting on issues affecting women lawyers and women in business. She is the author of the Best Friends at the Bar book series for women lawyers. Her most recent book is What Millennial Lawyers Want: A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice.