Thought For The Day

There are people who live in the jungle, and then there are those who live in the zoo.  I prefer to live in the jungle.  I may not be protected, but at least I am free.

Author Unknown

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Putting Fashion Forward

Most women love fashion. This is not news, but it is in the news on a daily basis.  It is hard to pick up a newspaper or a magazine without being aware of the draw of fashion and style.  Personally, I love fashion and reading fashion magazines—almost as much as I love reading Veranda and Architectural Digest.  I also know that many of my readers love fashion, and Best Friends at the Bar should serve all of your professional needs.  So, I have been thinking of integrating a fashion component to the Best Friends at the Bar web site.  That and some other fun twists on the professional woman experience will be waiting for you in 2013.

I cannot wait to get started, and I will have help from two of my favorite young women lawyers who know more than a little about the subject matter.  In fact, if they did not have jobs to keep them busy, they should just stay home and dress me!  They understand what you want and your fashion budgets, and they are very creative.  They also understand that women of a certain age—like me—want to look stylish but age appropriate.  They can address this from all angles, and that is what I like about their approach.

I was reminded of this exciting new twist for Best Friends at the Bar yesterday when I was curled up before the fire after dinner with the Style section of the Washington Post newspaper.  (Yes, I am still reading hard copy of newspapers!  I like the feel of turning the pages, snapping the pages taught and getting newsprint on my fingers.  For me, that is what reading is all about.  I refuse to be pulled over to Kindle and its competitors—not that there is anything wrong with them. It is a personal thing.  Call me old-fashioned, but it is what I like.)  However, I digress.  Back to fashion and the professional woman……

The article in the Style section that caught my eye was “Power, yes. Suit, no.”  It described the preferences of women news anchors for dresses rather than suits and the development of that preference over the last ten years.  It featured well-known newswomen like Norah O’Donnell, Mika Brzezinski (who I have blogged about earlier), Diane Sawyer and Andrea Mitchell and their preferences for on-the-job dressing.  For the full article, go to

I found this particularly interesting because the subject matter is similar to the debate about workplace style for women in the legal profession.  Even though most women lawyers today do not choose sleeveless sheath dresses in bright colors and patterns for their everyday attire at the office, there certainly has been a shift—no pun intended—to more comfortable and less formal clothing in recent years.  Gone is the need to wear a suit or a jacket to the office every day, although it is still my preference for important meetings and certainly in the courtroom.

Women typically like to be fashion forward, but, as the article describes, it has become more and more difficult to find professional attire.  I have lamented this for years, especially recently when I have been in the market for professional-looking suits for speaking appearances.  Most of my friends and family have heard me complain ad nauseum that designers are not designing for professional women of a “certain age.”

One of the on-line comments to the article also resonated with me.  The writer opined that the reason the news anchors are donning sexier and more feminine attire has nothing to do with women finally having made it in the serious news world, as the article suggests, but more to do with the fact that the news hour has morphed into entertainment instead of hard news.  Seems to me that there is something to that, but I can’t see that happening in our profession.  Frankly, as devoted as I am to the law, it is hard for me to think of law practice as entertaining!  So, we may just be stuck with this fashion dilemma for awhile.  Time to do something about it.

Enter Best Friends at the Bar to the rescue.  Stay tuned for the roll out next year.  It is going to be fun and informative and very valuable for stretching your fashion dollar.  Why shouldn’t girls have fun??????  Even if they are killer lawyers!



Career Counselors, Law Firm Managers, Law Students, Lifestyle, Practice Advice, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | 1 Comment

Thought For The Day

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

Helen Keller

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Know Your Elevator Speech—and Practice It!

Elevator speeches—-the ones that describe who we are and what we do in the time that it takes to get from the 10th floor to the lobby in an elevator—-are critical to your success.  They are not just for newcomers to the profession.  Every practitioner must continue to know and hone her elevator speech as her career goals and her practice develop.

Why are elevator speeches so important?  First of all, it forces you to examine your practice and what you and your firm have to offer prospective clients.  As you know, prospective clients can be anywhere—in the elevator, at the pre-school program, at the gym, in the market, on the golf course, to name just a few—and very often you only have a few precious minutes to sell yourself and your firm.

In the DC metropolitan area where I live, you literally have about 10 seconds to interest someone in what you are saying before they turn their backs and leave or start looking over your shoulder for a better conversation.  People in the Nation’s Capital think that they are very important, and that is pretty much the way it happens at cocktail parties and networking events.  These people would not want to invest in a pleasant conversation that was not going to yield them some personal gain.  Sad but true.  Hopefully your networking environment is a little more civil.

Second, a good elevator speech will help you develop an independent practice that will be very valuable to you in terms of your upward mobility.  You always must be cognizant of how to best position yourself for future business.  In private practice, we eat what we kill, for better or for worse.  AND, it all starts with the elevator speech.  It may be in response to a polite, “And what do you do?” or you may have to seize the opportunity and introduce yourself to a perfect stranger and start the conversation.  Asking what the other person does is a good way to begin, but you need to make sure that the conversation lasts long enough for you to provide that same information about yourself.  Sometimes that takes some creativity.

For a good elevator speech, you need to get a description of your practice down to one sentence.  For example, “I am a trial lawyer, and I specialize in government fraud litigation on behalf of government contractors.”  That will get more than a little attention these days as we find ourselves poised on the Fiscal Cliff and waiting for the congressional rescue squad.

Contrast that to saying you are “a lawyer.”  Lawyers are a dime a dozen in my town, and you have to do better than that or you lose your audience.  Follow up by telling them that you are with “XYZ, a firm of about 200 lawyers that specializes in ….  and is currently handling a big litigation matter for ABC corporation.” You get the drift.  A good elevator speech is just like a good first impression—-and you never get a second opportunity to make a first impression.

And don’t forget to exchange business cards with the person you are talking with.  ALWAYS carry your business cards with you—I put them in my eyeglass case to make sure I have them with me at all times.   I share those cards with anyone who will take one, and I always send an e-mail the next day to anyone who shares a card with me.  Hopefully that person adds me to her contacts, and I hear from her again.  I also add that person to my mailing lists.  If your law firm has a newsletter, for instance, you should be adding your new contacts to that list.

To do all of this successfully, you have to stop thinking of client development as a chore or as something that only obnoxious salespeople do.  Telling people what you do and how well you do it is providing them with valuable information that they may need in the future.  So, you have to think about it as doing them a favor, and it will be a lot easier for you if you do.  If they walk away or are not responsive, there are two possibilities:  They are either very rude or your elevator speech needs to be improved.  You can’t do anything about a rude person, but you can work on your elevator speech.

Carpe Diem—-seize the opportunity to make that great first impression.  ‘Tis the season.  The period between Thanksgiving and New Years is social to the max.  It is full of one party or festive holiday gathering after another.  This is the perfect setup to practice your elevator speech.  There is nothing wrong with mixing a little business with pleasure, but be sensitive to the mix.  If the setting is heavy on pleasure and all the other guests are donning silly party hats, you may want to hold off on the business talk and grab a hat and a party horn.  Tooting your own horn may have to wait!

Promoting yourself and refining your elevator speech is a challenge.  It is a fine balance between good conversation and offering important information about yourself that can benefit you and the person you are talking to.  A challenge to be sure, but, I have faith in you.  Practice makes perfect, and you CAN do it.  Start practicing NOW!



Career Counselors, Law Firm Managers, Law Students, Practice Advice, Young Lawyer | 10 Comments

Thought For The Day

Go back a little to leap further.

John Clarke

Thought For The Day | Comment

Happy Thanksgiving to All My Best Friends at that Bar

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that you are with family and friends today and taking time out from your busy lives to relax and appreciate all that life has to offer.   It is a wonderful holiday to reflect on who and what we are and how we fit into the larger schemes of family, friends, work and society.  It gives us a comfortable surrounding to think about past, present and future in a way that I never feel on New Year’s Eve—the holiday that is touted for resolutions and reflection.  Too much false hoopla and little hats, poppers and blowers for me to take New Year’s Eve too seriously.  Not so for Thanksgiving.  Somehow it feels much more real and substantial.

Our lists of what we are thankful for are too personal to publish to the world.  However, suffice to say that my list is very long and that it includes you, my readers, and Aspen Publishers/Wolters Kluwer for giving me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many young women lawyers.  Hear, hear to that, and I hope that I can keep bringing you good and helpful information for a very long time and that you will “Pay It Forward” and make a difference in the lives of other young women in the profession.

So, eat lots of turkey, stuffing, yummy side dishes, and pies…..oh, the pies!….mind your manners and thank everyone who made such a feast possible, and take a little extra time out for conversation with the elderly in your group.  They appreciate it so much, and when the questions get too difficult to answer or way too personal …… remember yesterday’s blog and retreat to a quiet place with Best Friends at the Bar!

See you on the other side of Thanksgiving!  That would be Black Friday, and you can be sure that I am not going anywhere near a shopping mall!  Been there, done that, and learned a lesson.  I prefer to boost the GNP with more civilized spending.  But, for all of you shopaholics, go for it!  May the best woman win!

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Thought For The Day

“No” is a complete sentence.

Anonymous—-sort of.  This was told to me recently by a dear friend who just battled and won against breast cancer.  In the process, she reprioritized and got down to the knitty gritty about life, what it means and what is expected.  She is one of the toughest women lawyers I know, and cancer was no match for her.  She is wildly supportive of Best Friends at the Bar and is a contributor.   Most importantly, however, she is my friend, and she is going to be with me for a long time — something I will count among my blessings as I sit down with friends and family for Thanksgiving dinner.

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Huffington Post Features Best Friends at the Bar

The Huffington Post featured Best Friends at the Bar in its on-line coverage yesterday.  It is wonderful to get this kind of exposure and to have Best Friends at the Bar recognized as the valuable resource it is.   As you probably know, Huffington Post WOMEN is a great font of information for women in a variety of professions and careers, and I am very pleased to have Best Friends at the Bar as a part of that information network and to have the opportunity to add information specific to young women lawyers.

The article, “Advice for Women Lawyers,” includes helpful information for women lawyers on how to succeed in practice and survive in a male-dominated profession.  It is a “must read” for all women law students and young women lawyers, and it also is very helpful to young women considering careers in the law.  For the full November 19, 2012 article, see

Here are some article highlights to get you started:

*Embrace the novelty of being a woman lawyer in a field full of men but do it right.

*Recognize that male lawyers and female lawyers think and interact differently.  This is very important in a high-stakes business like law practice.

*Support other women lawyers…………a perennial theme of Best Friends at the Bar.

*Create a life balance that includes paying attention to personal needs and health—even while being an excellent lawyer.

*Develop your own definition of success in the law.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  Do yourself a favor and read the full article.  As I often tell you, you will be glad that you did!

Here’s an idea:  Read it at Grandma’s on Thanksgiving Day when the family conversation is getting to be a little much for you.  How many times can you explain the work you do, and who understands the law of cyber security anyway?  Is your career plan really open for discussion by ALL the family?  AND, your love life………..wasn’t that supposed to be off limits….always?

Here I am to save you.  Retire to another room, and call up the Huffington Post article.  If you need more research material, go to my web site at and click on the Blog.  It will provide an archive of past blogs, and I am willing to bet that you may have missed a few along the way.   They are good reading—and they do not require an awkward “conversation”!

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