Thought For The Day

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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Thought For The Day

“Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.”

Wess Stafford

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Thought For The Day

“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.”

Andy Stanley

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How About That Special Place in Hell?

Let me make something clear from the outset.  The following is not a political statement.  In no way does it indicate my political preferences or party allegiance. Best Friends at the Bar is an apolitical project, by design.  But, there is something regrettable to report, and report I shall.


For years, since the beginning of the Best Friends at the Bar project, in fact, I have enjoyed repeating a famous quote from Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  If you have read my books or attended my programs, you know it:  “There is a special place in hell reserved for women who do not help other women.”  I like the quote because it speaks to women’s empowerment, to a kind of solidarity that will help lift women to equality in all things, and, let’s face it, it’s catchy.  Just last week I repeated it at an event at the University of Maryland Law, and it always elicits good audience response.

It is an important quote for my project because there is still room in the law profession for more examples of women helping women.  Plenty of room, in fact, and women helping women is an important goal of Best Friends at the Bar.  We still experience senior women lawyers who are reluctant to reach down helping hands for young women lawyers to increase awareness of the challenges ahead and how to survive those challenges and advance in a male-dominated profession.  Some of these Queen Bees need to hear the Secretary’s quote on a daily basis.  Or even more often.

I have met Madeleine Albright, and I have discussed the quote with her and the importance of it to my work.  She totally gets that application because she has three daughters, and all of them are lawyers — more evidence of the perfect fit for her quote to the Best Friends at the Bar project.

However, something happened this week on the way to the New Hampshire Primary.  The quote has now taken on political overtones, which makes it less useful as a generic statement of women-for-women solidarity in pursuit of equity.  This shift took place when Secretary Albright suggested at a Hillary Clinton rally that women who did not help elect Hillary Clinton were headed to the Down Under.  Her exact words were, “There is a place reserved in hell for women who don’t help each other,” followed by a battle cry for Hillary Clinton.

This is regrettable on two counts.  First, it contradicts Ms. Albright’s own words.  You may recall that, during the 2008 presidential campaign, then vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin attempted to use those words of Secretary Albright for her own political purposes.  At that time, Secretary Albright pushed back and said, “Though I am flattered that Vice Presidential Candidate Governor Palin has chosen to cite me as a source of wisdom, what I said had nothing to do with politics.”  Wish she had stuck to her guns. 

Second, politicizing such a strong rallying cry for women diminishes its value.  Are we left with a quote that is only useful to one political party or even one candidate and her followers?  Have women outside of those interest groups lost a strong statement of women’s solidarity for purposes quite apart from the political process?   For reproductive rights?  Or pay equity?  Or myriad other social changes?  Have those powerful words disappeared into the ether, tainted now and no longer useful for the purposes for which they were uttered?

Difficult times.  Desperate measures.  Not so wise as it turns out.

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

Thought For The Day

“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”

Salvador Dali

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Law Firm Steps Up on Law School Student Debt

What keeps you up at night?  Now that you are practicing law, it is no longer the pesky Secured Transactions exam that required a lot more studying than you anticipated.  No, now that you are an official part of the profession, the one thing that probably interferes with your sleep is the possibility of NEVER having your law school loans paid off.  Well, join the crowd.  There are plenty of you whose sweet dreams are being interfered with by this ominous thought.

Well, for those who think that law firm leaders do not have a collective conscience and could care less about your student loan debt, here is very good news.  One law firm has distinguished itself in caring about the future of its young lawyers.

Hats off to Latham Watkins for reaching down a helping hand to its debt-ridden junior lawyers.  It was announced recently that Latham had brilliant moments of thinking outside the box to co-opt some of its banking clients and negotiate a good interest rate for its young lawyers on some of their law school debt.  That’s one way to get young lawyers better rested and more focused on their billable hours, so it is a win-win for all.

Here are the terms for Latham lawyers.  For all student debt in excess of $50K, the interest rate negotiated is 2.75 —-certainly preferable to standard rates offered on government loans and even by some private banks.  Since most law students — except for those keeping the rent down by living in cardboard boxes under bridges or the lucky ones who are scholarship recipients — most individual law school debt is likely to exceed $50K and be eligible for this program.

What a boon to these young Latham lawyers!  The law firm loyalty meter probably went off the chart at the announcement of this program, as it should.  If law firms are truly the impersonal, dark and uncaring institutions we so often hear about, this is uplifting news.

And think about this.  It can be argued that it is not in the best interest of law firms to help young lawyers reduce student loan debt.  After all, high student loan debt keeps a lot of young lawyers in practice JUST to pay off their debt.  This high debt load is often referred to as the Golden Handcuffs that eliminate career options for many lawyers.   So, the more the law firm helps these young lawyers pay off their debt, the more options available to the young lawyers in the future — and that may not be good for the firms.

So, something else is at work here.   Something better.  Could it be heart?  And so close to Valentines Day!

Whatever it is, I hope it catches on.  Most big law firms today have financial services clients.  It is time for law firm leaders to have a chat with them!

Read more about the Latham Watkins initiative on Above the Law.

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

Thought For The Day

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Mark Twain

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Young Women Lawyers: Are You Prepared for Law Practice?

I had a wonderful time speaking to the student Women’s Bar Association at the University of Maryland Law School earlier this week. It was a great audience, and the young women asked thoughtful questions during the Q and A. Here are some of the subjects that we discussed during this noon hour program:

  • The alarmingly low retention and advancement statistics for women lawyers;
  • A look backward at the progress women lawyers have made over the last 50 years;
  • The continuing challenges of a male-dominated profession for women lawyers, including the work-life struggle and other gender-related challenges;
  • The importance of young women lawyers taking responsibility for their career plans and making well-informed choices;
  • Personal Definitions of Success and the variety of satisfying career models available for women lawyers;
  • Why it is important for young women lawyers to stay in the law profession and the risks of going off ramp;
  • The need for women lawyers in positions of management and leadership in the law profession to improve policies for all women lawyers;
  • The skills and behaviors that young women lawyers need to survive and be competitive in the law profession;
  • How unintentional gender bias negatively affects career opportunities for women lawyers and how to spot it and help eliminate it;
  • The obligation for senior women lawyers to mentor and sponsor young women lawyers; and
  • The responsibility of law firm leaders to improve retention and advancement opportunities for women lawyers and why it makes good business sense.

I am enjoying doing these programs at law schools all over the country, and I hope that your law school is one of them. If that is not the case, I encourage you to talk to your Career Development Office and your women law student groups to bring this program to your law school. There is so much in this program to help you plan and execute a satisfying and successful career in the law, and you deserve this kind of help.

Time is of the essence. You will need this information and these skills on Day One of law practice, and I would be delighted to help you be as prepared as possible when that time comes.

Career Counselors, Law School Educators, Law Students, Young Lawyer | Comment