Wait List Season: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Here we are again.  Wait List season for law school applicants.  This is a good news, bad news scenario.  Being “waitlisted” means that you still are in the running for admission. Being waitlisted also means that nothing is certain in your life and that the waiting game is full on and annoying.  Yes, I know.  It is unpleasant, but you have to try to look on the bright side and act prudently.

Being placed on a law school Wait List is both a hopeful and a frustrating experience, depending on the school and the applicant’s expectations, and there is a certain amount of protocol you need to know to handle the situation wisely and adeptly.  As I have pointed out in a prior blog on the subject, “Storming the Bastille” and sending the school admissions office reams of additional paperwork and electronic files — evidencing your credentials and acceptance worthiness — may not be the best idea.

So, what is the best way to handle it?  I typically default to this article that appeared on the Above the Law website several years ago and is still very relevant.  It contains some valuable guidance on what kinds of things and how much to send to augment your file and when it becomes too much.

Shy away from the gimmicks and singing telegrams.  You will be amazed to know the kinds of gimmicks that applicants have used in the past, and I have heard some outrageous ones first-hand from law school admissions deans.  That is where the ugly comes in.  These attempts at getting noticed are embarrassing, and you do not want to appear that desperate or foolish.

Additional recommendations is something that many of you will think about, and it is specifically addressed in the article.  Here are some things you should consider before requesting an additional letter of recommendation:

  • Assess your application “holistically” to identify weaknesses and reasons that you were waitlisted.  Think about adding a letter of recommendation that can bolster your application on that particular issue;
  • Try to figure out what your other recommenders have said about you and use that information to calculate the likelihood that another letter from that same person would be helpful; and
  • If you opt in favor of an additional recommendation, make it very clear to the proposed writer what you need addressed on your behalf.  If the writer is reluctant to address that topic, you need to know it and, hopefully, find someone else to help you out.  

As you can see, being waitlisted is a game of strategy, and there is no place for impetuous decisions. Read the article, factor in your particular circumstances, and make an informed decision.

Good luck to all of you who find yourself in the waiting game.  I hope to see you in a law school audience somewhere next Fall.  Break a leg!


Career Counselors, Law School Educators, Pre-law | Comment

Women Lawyers: Be Aware of Difficult Personalities at the Office

Difficult personalities at the office are a big problem, and the problem is not confined to partners and abusive behavior toward associates or others lower on the law firm ladder than themselves.  Oh no.  The bad news is that the higher you climb on that ladder, the stronger the resistance to good working relationships can become.

The subject of whether your law firm partner is a jerk is addressed in this article from The American Lawyer.   The article has two applications for you as a young woman lawyer.  First, it provides some good advice on what kind of bad behavior to be aware of and how to handle it.  Second, the article demonstrates the bad role models that you do not want to channel.

Pay close attention to the remarks about emotional intelligence.  That is a big deal, and you need to understand it.  A high emotional intelligence can be helpful in getting clients, retaining clients, and developing a strong working team for servicing the clients at your firm.  A low emotional intelligence can yield very opposite results.

According to the article: “The No. 1 problem is that lawyers are incredibly competitive, and they want all the glory for themselves.  They tend to be individual go-getters rather than consensus formers.”  Personalities like this do not further the goals of the law firm in a positive way, and that becomes a problem for everyone.

Much of the emphasis in this article is on leadership and the role of effective leadership in eliminating abusive behavior and promoting respect and the team concept.  There are repeated references to the “top-down” approach, which is very reminiscent of my new book on law firm leadership, Best Friends at the Bar:  Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers (Wolters Kluwer Law and Business/Aspen Publishers, 2015). 

Check it out as well!


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

Equal Pay Day — Yes, It Still Is an Issue for Women Lawyers

Today is Equal Pay Day.  Yes, we have laws to level the playing field between what men and women earn in the workplace.  No, it is not always working.  So, it is still an issue for all of us — men and women alike.

This is not just a woman’s issue.  It also is an issue for the sons and husbands of working women, who would benefit from equal pay in the workplace.  For every family where the mother/spouse is a breadwinner, it is a big issue.  Still.

What does it mean for women lawyers?  Here is a statistic to remember.  Current figures show that women partners in law firms make 60% of the salary of male partners.  60%.  Not the 78% you see reported for all women in the workplace.  It is time that we got to the bottom of that.

Pass it on.  It is important.

Career Counselors | 1 Comment

Thought For The Day

“We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race. We all share the same basic values.”

Kofi Annan

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Thought For The Day

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I might have.”

Abraham Lincoln

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“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

Nicolas Chamfort

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New BFAB Program to Support Women’s Initiatives

career-adviceThe new BFAB Multi-Session Program for Law Firm Women’s Initiatives has launched!  This new CLE-eligible program will continue the effort to extend my programs to more lawyers, including global audiences, and the applications are very exciting.  The program sessions include the following and can be tailored to meet the individual law firm needs:

  • Developing Effective Leaders to Meet the Special Challenges for Women Lawyers;
  • Owning Your Own Career;
  • Achieving Commitment to Career and Work-Life Balance;
  • The Importance of Networking and Client Development; and
  • Looking Back and Moving Forward to Successful and Satisfying Careers.

I look forward to working with your law firm to make your Women’s Initiative everything it should be to retain and advance women lawyers —- for the benefit of the women lawyers, the law firm and the law profession.

Career Counselors, Spotlight | Comment

The Truth About Developing Business — Perfect for Women Lawyers!

I have shared things by my friend Grover Cleveland — the lawyer, silly, not the former POTUS! — with you before, and here is another opportunity.  This article addresses the daunting task of developing business as a critical element of advancing in a law firm and gaining independence in your practice.  Nothing is more important for a young lawyer, as you have heard me say so many times before.

Networking and developing business for your law firm is something that most lawyers do not relish.  Not even the most successful among them.  But, you have to get over that and recognize the importance and value of developing business.  If you do it right, it will change your life and your future at a law firm.  If you ignore it, you are likely to find yourself moving on from the law firm in an involuntary way.  It is as simple as that.

The days of having work handed down to you from a senior attorney — the days of the “finders” and the “minders” — is over.  These days, the same lawyer who “finds” the work also “minds” the work.  Those billable hours are invaluable at all levels of practice today, and there is a whole lot less sharing going on.  It is a sign of the times as the practice of law has gotten so much more competitive during the recent economic downturn.  And most law profession observers agree that this new model is a permanent change.

So, what to do?  How do you, a newbie lawyer, even approach the awesome task of developing new work for your law firm?  That is where Grover Cleveland comes in.  Here is some useful advice of his to help you develop business while, at the same time, stay on top of your other work — a super juggling act, to be sure:

  • Clarify the firm’s expectations;
  • Define your goals;
  • Manage your own expectations;
  • Develop your expertise;
  • Learn about your clients;
  • Provide excellent client services;
  • Raise your visibility;
  • Be mindful of internal clients;
  • Make business development a habit; and
  • Shift your mindset.

Excellent advice.  Now read the entire article and make it work for you!


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