Thought For The Day

Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.

Theodore Vail

Thought For The Day | Comment


Women seem to go through many passages in their lives.  Gail Sheehy wrote a famous book about it, and those of us who are a bit “seasoned” have experienced it.  Some passages are good, and some not so much.  But, all passages teach us important things about our lives and our place in the larger picture that is Life.

This week is an important passage for me.  I am closing down my family home of more than 70 years, packing all the memories into boxes to be shared with family members and friends, and turning over the keys to another family to build memories of its own.  This all is good, but it is some times hard to see the good through the tears.

I lived in that house full time for the first 18 years of my life, and I have visited it and revisited it for almost 50 years more. It is a lovely and welcoming old house, and going there was always a pleasure.  When I was a child, people would stop by just to ask about the house.  I think they sensed something special, as well.

It is where I learned to walk, ride a bike, read, play the piano, experience broken hearts, apply to college and plan my wedding.  That house was my port in the storm, complete with the cubby holes I squeezed into to feel safe and secure.  The saying that a house has “good bones” is reflective of that home.  Bones are the support that we need so that we literally do not fall apart.  That was true of my childhood home.

But, even with those strong and positive recollections, it still would be easy to regret the passing of our life — my family’s life together —in that house.  And, I would not be above such regret and sadness.  Except for one thing, or one person, more appropriately.  My mother.  She is almost 99 years old, and it was her house more than anyone’s.  She lived in it longer than anyone, and she loved it.  However, she has shown remarkable grace in aging, and she does not regret.  She is philosophical and practical, and she makes it all easier for the rest of us.

I learned a lot from that house, but, most of all, I learned a lot from the people in it.  I also learned a lot there from my father, who is no longer with us, and my memories of him are most vivid when I approach his reading chair where I can hear the music he loved in the background.  I will miss that.

Here I am reminded of one of my children’s favorite bedtime stories, “Goodnight, Moon,” which I surely read to them often in that house.  But, today, it is something more than Goodnight, Moon.  It is something so much more personal and poignant.

Today it is Goodnight, House.


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Thought For The Day

Today is a new day. You will get out of it just what you put into it…If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, there is always another chance for you. And supposing you have tried and failed again and again, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down.

Mary Pickford

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Thought For The Day

Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.

Sonia Ricotti

Career Counselors | Comment

Why Do Women Lawyers Leave?

Almost 40% of women leave the profession of law mid-career.  That is 2 to 3 times as many women as men, and it is a high percentage. For people outside the profession, it can appear to be lunacy to leave a high-paying job in a respectable profession.  So, why do so many women lawyers leave a profession that has required a dedication of so much of their time and money?

Some of the reasons that women leave are very personal, but others fall into common categories.  One of those common reasons, of course, is the work-life challenge that women face as the bearers of the children and the primary care-takers in most families.

But, what are the others?  Some of them may surprise you.  According to a recent article in Huffington Post Business, those reasons include failing to find meaning in the work, being surrounded by toxic or dysfunctional environments or people, and unappealing role models.  Although you cannot plan for some of these, others should be more obvious to you when you are researching job opportunities or interviewing.  So, you may have more control over these things than you think.  If that is the case, be sure that you TAKE CONTROL.

Let’s break these reasons down a little:

  • The work-life challenges:  For many women lawyers, the challenge is trying to work at the office like men and raise children at home like women.  Law firms generally operate on an “up or out” rule, and this leaves women at a crossroads.  Do they stay in the job to work themselves up to partner — or do they leave while they still have some options to a full-time commitment in a demanding profession?  Those women lawyers with children are apt to find the long road to partnership and the time away from family particularly unappealing;
  • Lack of meaning in the work:  Women especially need to feel that they are appreciated and are performing meaningful work.  Most women do not flourish in situations where they are made to feel like cogs in the wheel.  Experience tells us that women are very loyal as a group if they are treated well and feel like they are performing important work.  “Inclusion” is a big issue for women, as discussed in one of my past blogs devoted to that subject. However, the law profession and legal settings do not always provide those feelings of inclusion and can be much more isolating.  A certain amount of what lawyers do also can be repetitive and boring, a result of the specialization that has taken over our profession in the last decade.  Clearly, it is not all like the excitement of an episode of Ally McBeal or even Perry Mason ;
  • Toxic or dysfunctional environments or people:  Environments that include verbal abuse and pressure from clients and management are anxiety-creating and should be avoided.  There is not enough money in the world to make you want to be in such an environment.  Pay close attention to your surroundings when you are choosing a job and a business culture; and
  • Unappealing role models:  Too many young women lawyers do not have positive role models in their firms and organizations.  So many women lawyers dropped out in the 80’s and 90’s, and, as a result, there now is a dearth of women lawyers in management and leadership.  Many of the women at high levels of management and leadership have sacrificed much of what the young women today hold dear, e.g., families and children, and the young women cannot identify with these senior lawyers.

There is no question that this failure to identify with or embrace the work is a serious dilemma for young women lawyers.  It also is becoming a serious dilemma for young male lawyers, but the young women seem to experience it more significantly because of their unique roles as women, wives, mothers and family caretakers.  Even with these drawbacks, however, many young women lawyers report satisfaction with the mental challenge of the job, interaction with smart and skilled colleagues, the opportunity to learn new things and acquire new skills and, of course, the relative high salaries paid to lawyers.

How do you gauge your professional happiness?  Where are you on the spectrum?  Keep this list on your desktop and consult it from time to time.  Think about those questions and how you would answer them.   Sometimes the problem does not require a change of profession as much as it requires a change of culture or surroundings. 

You also need to be careful not to overreact to your circumstances.  After all, it is called “work” because it is not “play.”  Important jobs take commitment and sacrifice.  The key is knowing how much.




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

Thought For The Day

If a man wants his dreams to come true, he must wake them up. (Also true for a woman!)

Thought For The Day | Comment

Achieving Gender Diversity from One of America’s Top Lawyers

Mary Cranston is one of America’s best-known women lawyers — or just plain best-known lawyers.  She was a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and served as its Chairman of the Board.  She has been named one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal, one of two “Best Law Firm Leaders in the United States” by Of Counsel and has been profiled as “One of the Best Female Antitrust Lawyers in the World” by Global Competition Review. She was the 2005 recipient of the prestigious Margaret Brent Award, the American Bar Association’s highest award for women lawyers, who demonstrate legal excellence and help pave the way for other women lawyers.

So, when Mary Cranston speaks, people listen.  She recently spoke to an audience in New Zealand, and this article in LawFuel captures the essence of her message.   Here is what she has to say about achieving gender diversity in law practice.  I think you would agree that she knows the subject well and brings great experience and vision to the discussion.  She is starting at the top to identify the responsibilities that law firms must take in finding solutions to this important issue.  Here is a summary of what Mary Cranston has to say about achieving gender diversity in law firms:

3 Things Law Firms Need to Do to Achieve Gender Diversity:

  • Push from the top:  There must be leadership from the top not just lip service.  The leaders must understand unconscious bias.  An example is identifying women as having less potential for leadership unless there is an intervention.  Women get perceived as specialists with no bandwidth.  All leadership and all employees, up and down the line, need to be aware of unconscious bias.
  • Put the women in the top jobs and let them prove themselves.  Give them a chance instead of making unfounded assumptions.
  • Give women gender training so that they can recognize and control gender stereotyping better.  Women have some of the same gender stereotypes about themselves that men have about them, and that is why women have inner doubts about their competencies.  They have to be taught how to avoid those stereotypes and not play into them.

Think about it and discuss it in your law firm’s Women’s Initiative and Diversity Committee.  Also discuss it in your bar associations, especially your women’s bar associations.

Pass it on and make it work for all of us!



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Thought For The Day

Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those [birds] that sang best.

Henry Van Dyke

Thought For The Day | Comment