A Great Event for Women Lawyers

Last night I attended a great event for women lawyers at Polsinelli.  My husband and daughter both are members of the firm, and I am so proud that they were a part of this.  Well, sort of.  My daughter attended, and my husband supported.  No men allowed!

We were gathered for an intimate and candid discussion with Senator Claire McCaskill and to hear her views on women surviving and thriving as lawyers and lawmakers, as discussed in her recently released memoir, Plenty Ladylike.  She is awesome, and I wish all of you could have heard her.

Here are a couple of my favorite pearls of wisdom from this accomplished woman who was a prosecutor before she entered politics.

  • Success is not what you own.  It is doing what you love to do.
  • When harassed by her male colleagues, who had formed a group to take her down, she replied that, unlike them, being a state legislator was not the best job she ever would have.  And she was right!
  • The love of your family and friends is the best fuel for your success.  You cannot be happy at your job unless you are happy at home.

Senator McCaskill rocks as a motivational speaker.  There was so much valuable advice and perspective dispensed by Senator McCaskill in a short time, and her embracing approach, laced with a powerful sense of humor, left us yearning for more.  Every guest I spoke with was setting out to read the book.  That’s where you will get the whole story, and I enthusiastically recommend that you find a copy, curl up with it, and prepare to be amazed and awed.

Like anyone who attains greatness, Claire McCaskill’s was not an easy road.  But, she always kept her eye on the prize, and she has become an example of the value of perseverance and service beyond ourselves.  Like her role models, Margaret Thatcher (for the quality of her person and not her politics), Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Claire McCaskill is living large as a role model for all of us.

You do not have to embrace the Senator’s politics to appreciate her words.  So, get the book, read about a life well lived, and take whatever tidbits resonate with you and apply them to your own careers and lives.  It will be time well spent!

Thank you, Polsinelli, for your hospitality and purpose in presenting this opportunity to women lawyers.  It is a clear sign that you value women lawyers, and, for that, we value you!


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Thought For The Day

“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

André Gide

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Thought For The Day

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

Maya Angelou

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Thought For The Day

“Strength of a character isn’t always about how much you can handle before you break. It’s also about how much you can handle after you’ve been broken.”

Robert Tew

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Thought For The Day

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Thought For The Day

“And you ask ‘what if I fall?’ Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”

Erin Hanson

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Women Lawyers: People are Always Watching …. And Listening

This week’s blog theme is communication.  Earlier this week I wrote about personal communication.  The fine art of actually talking to each other instead of through machines.  There is a lot to be gained for all of us in that discussion, but there also are dangers lurking from personal communications gone awry.  Not only do you have to be careful what you say to people and how you say it, but you also have to be careful that you are not overheard by those who would use the information to do you harm.

Presumably you know that you should not use the names of your clients or companies you represent in general and casual conversation, and you should never be revealing the details of your representation that are subject to attorney-client privilege at the most and just good sense at the least.  And yet, you hear this on airplanes and in train cars every day around the country.

Not only do you hear it, but you hear it delivered at 100 decibels above the acceptable conversational tone either from someone who is visibly upset or someone who wants you to think he or she is VERY important.  In many cases, they are lawyers.  Resist the temptation unless you want to risk annoying everyone around you and, worse, breaching professional confidentialities.  Query who the people within earshot if you indulge in this ill-advised behavior.  People from the client’s own shop?  Horrors!  People from the opposing camp?  Bigger horrors.  People who might be inclined to hire you but now know that you are indiscreet and untrustworthy.  Time to take out a bridge loan!

And it is not always the content of what you say but the way you say it.  Recently, one of my friends sent me this e-mail:

At DCA heading to Miami and overhearing a phone conversation. It’s a casual conversation between friends. Young woman, well dressed, beautifully groomed, professional, and every other word out of her mouth is profane. Including the F bomb. I wouldn’t hire her. Hope your readers know they are always on display. Just a thought!

Yes, indeed, you are always on display.  This friend is from a family of lawyers, and she works with lawyers in her business every day.  She knows what to expect and what to reject! 

Be sure you know the same.

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E-Mail: The Monster that Ate the Law Office

Whatever happened to talking to each other.  As lawyers, we spend our lives defending free speech, but we rarely indulge in it any more.  We sit in offices with common walls and doors ten feet apart, and we would rather e-mail the lawyer next door than have a real FTF (as in “face to face”) conversation with him or her.  It is crazy, as pointed out in a recent post on Above the Law.

I have been railing against this for years because I also am an English teacher and a Legal Writing instructor by background, and I fear that we soon will not remember how to talk to each other at all.  It has already started.  Young people are comfortable interacting with machines but not with people.  Imagine the consequences on their social and interpersonal skills if this continues on to the next generation.  It will be compounded to the extent that all forms of personal communication will be endangered.

But, it is not just the young people.  The middle aged and older lawyers are falling into the same trap.  They e-mail their comments about things that could easily be communicated by telephone, they distinguish things in e-mails that then spawn myriad other e-mails when either a FTF discussion or a telephone call would have short-circuited the unnecessary multiple messages and possibly have allowed for some subtleties and discretion.  There is no substitute for seeing the look on someone’s face or hearing a hesitation in the voice on the other end of the phone to allow for a change in course before war is declared.

And then there is the “reply to all” problem.  OMG!  Have you ever done that unintentionally and spent the following two weeks trying to get back in the good graces of the unintended recipient of your not so discrete remarks?  It you have not, count yourself very lucky.

We need to rediscover the fine art of personal communication.  We need to rediscover the telephone.  We need to stop the endless flow of e-mails and text messages that are acting like albatross around our necks.

There are some good suggestions in the Above the Law post, and they are worth considering.  For you and for me.  This morning, I sent out 28 e-mails between the hours of 10:30 and noon.  That is one e-mail every three minutes!  It is infectious, and I am guilty as charged!  I need to get a handle on this!





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