Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
‘Tis the season — the one when you MUST polish off those resumes and get them out to potential employers. This sounds easy, but … not so fast. If you found it easy, you might want to look again.
There are resumes, and, then, there are resumes. The Internet is full of information about how to write the perfect resume, and some of that information is good. Some also is not so good, so let me contribute my two cents to help you out. I am a very pragmatic person, so that is how I approach resume writing and legal writing in general. A little bit of “less is more” plus good solid design. That’s all it takes. Here’s what I mean.
The overarching goal for any resume is to make it a “clear path to understanding” for the reader. This is not just true of resumes, it also is true of the other forms of communication you will utilize in a legal career. The legal memorandum, for instance, and the legal brief — which, typically, is anything but brief — and the client letter. These all are forms of communication, which, for your own benefit, should be capable of easy comprehension and understanding. If there is no such clear path to understanding, this correspondence can find its way to the circular file prematurely, and your objective will not have been achieved.
The “clear path to understanding” must be achieved both in terms of content and form. Content is easier, so let’s take it first. Aim for a one page resume. Use this rule of thumb: If it is not possible to say it in one page, it probably is not worth saying. That should not be much of a challenge for law students and young lawyers, who have not been in practice long enough to list countless law publications and cases argued at the United States Supreme Court. Choose the highlights of your qualifications, which should include both academic achievements (and, yes, gpa), employment history and other pertinent background experiences. Only list references, who you are certain will give you good recommendations, and do not list any references without permission. And, if you have to choose between listing your experience as a Redskins Cheerleader or a clerk in a law firm, do NOT go for the most exciting experience. You get my drift.
You also should try to tailor your resume to your reader. If you have several different areas of expertise or background, concentrate on the one that best fits the firm or group you are targeting. You also should choose your references with that in mind.
As for form, it is almost as important as content. If the form is so difficult to navigate, the reader will never get to the content. Or, even if the reader does persevere through the challenging form to the substance, by that time it may be clear that you could be just as difficult to navigate as your resume. This does not bode well for getting the interview.
Choose the form of your resume with the “clear path to understanding” in mind. Avoid fonts that involve distracting swirls or are overly artistic. Keep information in easily readable block format, and use bold type for headings. Do not use a vertical orientation for your headings unless you expect your reader to assume a complicated yoga position to read the resume.
In other words, follow the KISS rule. Keep it simple, stupid! If that approach is good enough for the US Navy, it is good enough for you. Lawyers, recruiting officers, and clients are busy people. They appreciate all efforts to provide correspondence that is easily read and understood. You will be rewarded for your simplicity by having them actually read and, hopefully, remember why you are outstanding and why your experiences and talents are great fits for them.
Judges cannot be overlooked in this communications discussion. When you are explaining complex legal theories and case interpretations, use introductory phrases and references back to tie the arguments together. Create a “clear path to understanding” through your brief or memorandum as if you were leading someone through a dense forest or other morass. Avoid hanging pronouns that do not clearly link back to the noun or proper noun. It is just a matter of taking care with your writing. Avoid confusion at all costs.
So, those are my thoughts on your resume and legal writing in general. I have taught legal writing in law school, and I take it very seriously. Good writers and good communicators are highly prized in the law profession, so get started early. Begin with your resume, and lead your reader down that clear path to understanding … that path that actually leads to a job or compels the reader to agree with your arguments and rule in your favor. Save the flowery rhetoric and gimmicks for another project and another day.
Baylor Law rocks, and I had a great time there last week. I spoke to law students, law professors, and law school administrators the first day and to accepted and prospective students — and some parents and one dog! — the next day. Yes, one dog — a really precious dog and NOT a service dog! That was a first for me.
Both of those appearances were very successful, and the young women law students and prospective law students I met at Baylor were fully engaged in my messages and asked thoughtful and thought-provoking questions. They stayed around afterwards to talk to me, they shared their own personal stories, they bought books, and some of them even e-mailed me later. I was particularly impressed by the student panelists, who had insight into their future careers that is not typical of women so young. It was a pleasure to listen to them and to know that they are the next generation of women lawyers and that they are off to such a great start.
My job is so interesting — and just plain fun — which explains why I fly all over the country doing it. Flying and driving and and taking trains to some parts of the country where I never have been and know nothing about is worth it every time. The more young women law students and lawyers I can connect with, the better. They are the solutions to the low retention rates for women lawyers, and, if Best Friends at the Bar can help improve their choices and make successful and satisfying careers for them more possible, I feel like I am doing my part to create an improved law profession for everyone. I am not a Queen Bee, and I believe that all seasoned women lawyers have a responsibility to mentor and sponsor young women lawyers to give them the best advantages possible in the profession. They have special challenges, and they deserve our attention.
It was such a pleasure to meet everyone at Baylor Law and to hear from Baylor Lawyers, who take great pride in their educations and their camaraderie. It was so rewarding to watch the “light bulbs” go off for young women in those audiences. It was so gratifying to know that these experiences will become part of the foundations for their law careers and will inform their decisions and professionalism throughout their careers.
The Baylor experience is unique. The underpinnings of that experience are positive personal values, mission and service, and, for me, there are no better words to describe the most significant aspects of a successful and enduring law degree.
For a refresher course about how I view the law profession, read my article, Part 1 and Part 2, on the University of Michigan Career Services web site to learn what I love about the law and what I learned from my Dad. He could have been a Baylor Lawyer. Instead, he was a Badger Lawyer (UW Law grad), but the things he respected about a law profession and his high standards for practice and service were indistinguishable from the Baylor experience. How lucky I was to learn from him.
So, is it any wonder that I loved my time at Baylor Law? Thanks to all of you at Baylor, who created that for me and who take every opportunity to make positive differences for remarkable young women in the law. You know who you are …. and so do I …. and I will not forget you!
Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.
In my last blog, I challenged you to answer the question about the responsibility for the Queen Bee Syndrome that too often thwarts the progress toward advancing women in our profession. I provided you with the thoughts of one commenter on the responsibility for that syndrome, and I told you that I would provide you with my own assessment.
I hope you have given some thought to the issue and to the way that the commenter evaluated the responsibility underlying the Queen Bee Syndrome. As you might expect, I would not have answered the question in the same way that the commenter did for the following reasons.
When I heard the discussion, I wondered how the commenter would explain jealousy and competition between women in other settings like all-women book clubs, PTAs, and charity volunteer groups, for example, where gender discrimination is mostly irrelevant. I have seen this competition, and show me the woman who has not. I think the underlying reasons for the Queen Bees are very different and are derived from women’s inherent competition among their gender, and women are not going to face those issues and improve their behaviors and their effectiveness in advancing other women if they keep blaming the men for everything.
My answer would have focused on the responsibility for women to put their unfortunate experiences behind them and reach out helping hands to the new generation of women. That is what Best Friends at the Bar is all about, and the women I have hand-picked as book contributors do it very well. As a pioneer in my field of construction contract litigation (when I had my own hardhat and was one of the first women lawyers to litigate those cases), I understand the temptation to continue to dwell on the past. I had plenty of challenges, and I had to give up my partnership at one point because I refused to work full-time when my children were young, and then I had to give up the construction contract practice because our clients, the good old boys, had enough trouble accepting a woman for a lawyer and presumably would not have tolerated dealing with a part-time woman lawyer. (That, incidentally, was proven wrong in the end.) At one point, I gave up private practice for public service, and it took me years to work myself back up to partnership.
However, I do not dwell on those past and personal challenges in my message, and I only use those examples to help young women put their challenges in perspective and see how far women in the law have come and how much farther they can go. I always have been a problem solver, and I am no different in carrying out my mission for Best Friends at the Bar. I concentrate on “personal definitions of success” and finding career satisfaction on individual terms. I am not nearly as interested in the blame game as I am in finding ways for women to be successful and satisfied professionals.
Don’t misunderstand me. The challenge of women helping women is a big problem, but we have to assign blame very carefully. I have met too many powerful women in the law profession, who appear not to want things to be any better for the younger generation of women lawyers than those things were for them. Many of them gave up family, lasting marriages, etc. for the singular focus that was necessary to reach the view from their high perches. Their professional successes are noteworthy and admirable, but that is not a reason to refuse to help others. Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, says it best, “There is a place reserved in hell for women who do not help other women.”
Complaining about past and even present grievances, to the exclusion of all else, can be a distraction and saps us of too much energy that we need to find practical solutions for women in our profession. We have to stop rehashing the same old problems. We need to redefine them in contemporary terms and move on. We also must understand that law is a business, and all of the things that men “do to us” in the business is not because of discrimination but because it is a business. Rent and overhead and salaries have to be paid, and the doors must remain open to attract clients. Without a healthy bottom line, there will be no jobs for women or for men.
So the next time you hear harangues about gender discrimination that brush too broadly, remember that this coin has two sides. Real gender discrimination cannot be tolerated. But, all of what you hear is not about real gender discrimination.
It is your job to be a discriminating listener not a listener for discrimination.
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.
President, Anne Arundel County Chapter of the Women’s Bar Association
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.
Future Speaking Engagements & Events
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
If you would like to arrange a speaking engagement, please contact Ms. Blakely at [email protected].
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
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.
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.
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.