Thought For The Day

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman

Thought For The Day | Comment

Lessons from the 2014 NAWL Conference

Last week I was in NYC attending the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) Annual Conference.  I always look forward to this event, but this year’s program was particular meaningful to me.  The conference theme of “Leading with Confidence and Courage” is one that is very close to my heart, and, in fact, my new book will address that theme as well.  I am happy to say that I sent the manuscript for that new Best Friends at the Bar book to my publisher weeks ago, so it is on its journey to help all of you achieve leadership in the law profession and also help you know what to expect from the leadership at your firms and other employers.

There were some very informative breakout sessions at the NAWL Conference this year and inspiring speeches by the award recipients during the lunch program.  One of those recipients, Anita Hill, who became famous when she accused US Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during the Senate confirmation hearings in 1991, held the crowd spellbound and received a standing ovation.  Her remarks and the plenary session where she served as a panelist were particularly valuable and thought-provoking.

I hope that some of you had an opportunity to attend the conference.  If you missed it, here are some lessons you would have learned:

  • There is a tenuous connection between being confident and being right.  People who say they are 100% confident are wrong 20% of the time;
  • Speaking up is often hard for women.  Practice is the key.  The more you do it, the easier it gets.  Always remember to be succinct and put a period at the end of your contribution;
  • Women lawyers must learn to self promote.  It is who you know “who knows what you know” that will make the difference in your career rise;
  • Confident women are not always well-received.  Learn to pick your battles.  It is a judgment call when to make a public statement calling out someone’s behavior or when you confine that to a private conversation.  Use good judgment and make sure it is worth it if you choose the public setting; and
  • Use humor to your best advantage.  It is a great ice breaker.

I hope that you will put the lessons of the NAWL Conference to good use.  I know I will!



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

Thought For The Day

The most important relationship in life is the one you have with yourself — everything else is a plus.

Diane von Furstenberg

Thought For The Day | Comment

Thought For The Day

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.

Charles Swindoll

Thought For The Day | Comment

Good News on the Lawyer Job Market Front

I am not in the habit of repeating myself.  However, when something is as critically important as this, I take some latitude.

Recently, I reported to you what was good news and still is.  The subject was an improving job market for graduate lawyers.  The Slate article, which I shared with you on Facebook, was based on thorough research and well-reasoned conclusions that by the year 2016 the supply of graduating law students will be reduced to meet the demands of the market.  It got my attention because the author took on some industry doubters in a quite effective way.

That article is very much worth reading if you are a law student, who is questioning your decision to go to law school based on the job market, or if you are a prospective law student looking for advice.  However, it does not give much solace to law graduates, who will be several years out of law school by 2016, and still without jobs.  That is another issue.

Now comes a popular law blog, which concludes basically the same thing.  I watch trends, and this is beginning to look to me like a trend.  This second article comes from Above the Law, one of the industry doubters mentioned above, and cites to the Slate article.  Hmm …. not so Above-the-Law-ish to switch sides, and very significant for that reason alone.

As you will see from these articles, the number of students taking the LSAT is down considerably, and the number of students in law schools today is at a 30-year low.  As a result, supply is about to meet demand, or so the argument goes.

Don’t get me wrong.  This information is only important if you really want to go to law school and incur the student loan debt that most law students must to get the degree.  If you are wishy-washy about being a lawyer, don’t bother.  It is too much work and too expensive.

However, do not fall victim to “throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” a phrase you are sure to hear repeatedly as a law student.  In other words, don’t overreact and get rid of all possibilities that do not include actually practicing law.  If you know the non-traditional path you want to take with a law degree, go for it.  Your commitment is just as important as the person with a passion to be the next Perry Mason — or David Boies for those of you who do not have a clue who Perry Mason was.

We are not used to good news, so let’s make the most of it.  I hope it pans out — for all of you.




Career Counselors, Law School Educators, Law Students, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | Comment

Thought For The Day

Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.

Joseph Addison

Thought For The Day | Comment

Women Lawyers Make Good Timekeepers — a MUST!

Timekeeping — I know, a subject that you would rather not discuss.  It is burdensome and annoying and the situation is getting worse.  Now law firms are starting to require timekeeping on a daily basis and penalties for not submitting billable time in a “timely” manner.

UGH!  Daily, really?  Yes, daily.  And you should be glad that you are an organized woman, who is capable of multi-tasking and compartmentalizing effectively.  YOU can do this.  It is going to be a lot harder for lawyers, who do not have those skills.  Think male lawyers, here!  Trust me, it is going to be a lot harder for them.  I have seen it in action.

Above the Law reported recently that the “proper keeping of time for all of those billable hours generated by toiling associates has never been more important.”  Of course, because law firms are struggling to find every possible source of revenue as they recover from a recession that was devastating to the profession.  As a result, law firms are initiating some new “motivational” techniques to get the cooperation of lawyers in reporting billable hours on time.

Fulbright & Jaworski describes its new policy as an effort to “minimize unnecessary loss of billable time due to delayed time entry.”  The new policy requires attorneys to record time on a daily basis and includes exemptions for “exceptional circumstances” that are not very liberal.  AND, the kicker is that only time reported in accordance with the new policy will be considered for the purposes of bonuses.  OUCH!

So, how outrageous is this?  After some insinuation that this policy is really harsh for associates seeking bonuses, ATL finally recognizes that there is no problem if associates just follow the rule.  We are surrounded by rules, this is just another one.  AND, in my experience this one is a blessing in disguise.  Here’s why.

I have a little experience with recording billable hours.  I have seen attorneys do it well, and I have seen others struggle to recreate a month of billable time.  That is not only excruciatingly painful, but it is anything but efficient, as the law firms recognize.  Fulbright & Jaworski is not the only firm initiating these new policies.  I am aware of others with similar punitive policies, and I am sure that many other firms will follow suit.

Here’s some advice based on my personal experience.  I always recorded my time at the end of each day.  I kept a running record of time billed during the day and transferred that information to a time sheet or electronic recorder at the end of each day.  Call me obsessive, but it worked then, even without the motivational techniques, and it will work now.

With that small effort, you not only will have a “real time” daily record of your billable time, but you also will have a running tally to compare with your targeted annual billable hours.  It helps a lot when you want to take some time off for a vacation.  You enjoy yourself more when you know that you have “time” to spare.

Got for it.  Do the right thing and make it easier on yourself at the same time — even if your firm does not yet have a policy.  It will pay off.

And be thankful that you are a woman — for whom this kind of thing comes naturally!



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

Thought For The Day

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world.

Harriet Tubman

Thought For The Day | Comment