No amount of ability is of the slightest avail without honor.
No amount of ability is of the slightest avail without honor.
Last night’s Washington Women’s Weekly event at the Sofitel in DC was a great success. The audience, which included both women attorneys and women in business, was very attentive to my remarks, and the Q and A was both interesting and lively. Thanks to Judith Willson at WWW for planning such a wonderful evening. Some of us continued the discussion later over more food and drink in the beautiful Sofitel bar and restaurant. So much to talk about!
Thanks to all of you for coming. Let me know if you would like to explore having me speak at your next event. Clearly, the Best Friends at the Bar topics strike a chord with all women in business.
Don’t get me wrong about men. I like them. I have many very close male friends—among them my wonderful husband and son—and I enjoy their company and companionship. The Best Friends at the Bar project has never been a male-bashing forum, and I encourage men to join the discussions and become a part of the solutions to the problems that still exist for women in the workplace. The Best Friends at the Bar advisory board has a mix of male and female members for that very reason.
However, I have a threshold requirement for the men in my life. It is not that they be good-looking or have a golf handicap lower than mine—if I had one. It is that they honestly acknowledge the issues facing women that hold women back from the same degree of professional success and career satisfaction that men experience, on average. That should be an easy standard to attain.
So, when I recently attended a conference for pre-law advisors, I was shocked by a verbal exchange with one such male advisor. I don’t shock easily, because I have been at this game for a long time and figure I have had just about everything hurled my way, and I try not to take these things personally. However, when the bad actor threatens the young women that I am trying to prepare for success in the law, it is a different story. That is when the Mama Bear comes out in me. Here’s how it happened.
A male pre-law advisor approached my book display at the conference, gave a cursory review of the books and marketing materials and then inquired whether I really thought that any of this was still relevant in the workplace. By “any of this”, I presumed that he meant the effects of the work-life struggle for women with family responsibilities and the gender issues. As it turned out, my interpretation of his question was correct, which he acknowledged by his behavior when I responded very politely that, yes, gender issues are still alive and well in the workplace and manifest themselves in ways that are very harmful to women and then provided him with one very good example. I knew that he and I were talking about the same issues when he scoffed at me in a way that was both disrespectful and condescending. When I offered him a business card so that he could share my information with the young women at his college, he scoffed at that also. The scoffing was so apparent and in such bad taste, that it drew comments later from some of those who observed it.
Why is this important enough to take up blog space? Did I get my feelings hurt and want some sympathy from those of you who support the Best Friends at the Bar mission? No, not at all. It is important because this man has a trust relationship with the young women he advises and helps send out into the world to be successful. If I told you what college he represents, you would understand the impact of his influence to a greater degree. But, I am a professional, and I would not disparage the college because of one bad actor. However, I will tell you that it is one of the most prestigious undergraduate colleges in the nation, and it sends a lot of young women off to law school and other professional pursuits. Some of my very good friends graduated from there, and I know that the young women students at that college deserve more. Those young women, unfortunately, are not getting the “leg up” on their futures and the realities of the challenges to those futures from a mentor like this one. And, that, to me, is travesty in this day and age.
So, I urge all of you to beware of who is talking to the young women at your colleges and universities and at your law schools. Make sure that they are providing these young women with realistic views of their futures so that they can prepare themselves and succeed in the ways that I—and I believe you—want them to. Do not let academic dinosaurs—-be they males or females—have these important trust relationships with the young women professionals of our future.
Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.
David Star Jordan
Young ladies, please remember your manners……for your own sake. When I hear stories like the one that I am about to pass on to you, I am shocked and dismayed. There is rarely any good excuse for bad behavior, and exhibiting it to the people with the power is never a good idea.
As you know if you have been following the blog, I recently attended a conference of pre-law advisors and law school admissions folks . I was there to familiarize them with the Best Friends at the Bar books and program. Occasionally, I was able to break away from my display table to hear some of the panels and participate in some of the discussions. One panel really caught my attention.
The members of that panel addressed the law school admission process and particularly the issues of financial assistance and wait lists. The panelists were seasoned law school admission deans from very prestigious law schools. In other words, they have seen a lot in their careers as admissions officers, and they are used to turning a blind eye to some bad behavior because of the stress inherent in the application process. They understand the high stakes for many students applying to law school today and the pressures that many of those students feel.
However, these same folks are experiencing some really unprecedented bad behavior from students today—both male and female—and they were there to encourage the pre-law advisors to take a message forward to their advisees—-that this level of bad behavior comes at a cost.
It seems that we have entered a new realm of bad behavior—-especially from those top candidates, who are being courted by more than one top law school and are feeling very important and powerful. This manifests itself in accepted applicants leaving voicemail messages for law school admission deans inquiring “when is a good time for us to negotiate my scholarship money?” True story, according to the panelist, and it was followed by some other similar examples.
The response to that particular voicemail message, according to the panelist who received it, is NEVER. It is never a good time to have that discussion, when the question is stated in such a presumptuous and disrespectful manner. Maybe this accepted applicant is not as powerful as he or she thinks. I got the distinct impression that was the case. A student with an entitlement attitude like this is likely to manifest other similar attitudes that would not be positive contributions to the law school community, and the law school admissions folks know it. Let that student take the higher scholarship money at the other school—-if it exists—and be gone. Even law schools have their limits with attitude, even it comes from a 171 LSAT performer.
I am appalled by this kind of bad behavior, and I hope that none of you falls victim to it. The behavior is just plain disrespectful and wrong. But, it bothers me for a different reason as well. We already have a pretty uncivil professional bar, and I fear that the perpetuation of bad behavior like this from law students may just propel us to an even more unseemly level of disrespect in our profession. When I shared that opinion with some of the panelists, they wholeheartedly agreed.
Get at grip. For those of you who feel entitled to flex your muscles because of your stellar academic achievements and your high LSAT scores, think again. Your academic achievements are hard to measure vis a vis the academic achievements of others at other learning institutions, and your high LSAT score often means that you are a good test taker. No more and no less. It does not mean that you will make a fine lawyer, and bad behavior like this demonstrates that maybe you will not be a credit to the bar of your choice in the future.
Curb your bad behavior because it is not worth the advantage that you seek, and it can come back to bite you in the end. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee you that it will.
A person will sometimes devote all his life to the development of one part of his body – the wishbone.”
Time is running out! There are only three days left to register for the rescheduled Washington Women’s Weekly event where I will be the featured speaker on the subject of “Defining Your Own Success.” Be sure to register now to secure a seat at this popular networking event for Washington DC-area business women.
The rescheduled June event will be held on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, from 6 to 7:30 PM at the Sofitel located at
806 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Join Us For Cocktails + Connect this Wednesday!
Find out how to define your own success
With Susan Smith Blakely
Register on line at http://www.womensweekly-wdc.com.
$50 per person includes complimentary, first-ever signature WOMEN’S WEEKLY cocktail, wine, or beverage & truly timeless French hors doeuvres with a contemporary twist.
WASHINGTON WOMEN’S WEEKLY is an e-publication that shares news, knowledge and networking events to connect and build alliances among professional women. Sign-up to receive news and invitation: www. womensweekly-wdc.com
If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in the dark with a mosquito.