Here’s the September/October 2107 BFAB Newsletter

September/October 2017 Newsletter

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Thought For The Day

Veterans Day is tomorrow.  I am proud to be the daughter and the wife of a veteran.  Thank all of the veterans out there for their service.

Susan Blakely

Thought For The Day | Comment

Women Lawyers Must Be on the Lookout for Sexual Harassment

You all need to be aware of possible sexual harassment in your offices.  These allegations are surfacing across all industries today, and none of us can act like it is not a problem in our profession and in our offices.  We all know that it is.  It was a problem when I first started practicing law in 1979, and it is still a problem today.

If you see something, say something.  Sexual harassment can be blatant or it can be subtle — like when a woman refuses advances from a supervising male colleague and ends up losing support for her work, receiving negative reviews, and eventually being forced out of the firm.  The power differential in law firms is significant, and power gone wrong corrupts.

It is the responsibility of all of us to expose problematic workplace behaviors and cultures.  We need informal complaint processes, qualitative surveys, focus groups and educational programs to raise awareness of the problems.  Effective leadership in law firms includes addressing these issues sooner rather than later.  Male lawyers have to be made aware of the seriousness of the problem of sexual harassment so that they stop being enablers.

These issues were addressed recently by Gretchen Carlson in a talk at  TEDWomen 2017.  Ms. Carlson, the former Miss America and news anchor, who, in 2016, bravely revealed her experiences with sexual harassment while she was employed at Fox News, correctly stated in her talk that the law profession is not immune from this same reprehensible behavior.  “It’s from waitresses to Wall Street bankers to lawyers [and more].”

Here are some highlights from an article reporting an interview with Ms. Carlson where she further elaborated on her experiences and gave advice to victims of sexual harassment:

  • It’s not fun to come forward if you have been the victim of sexual harassment.  You don’t do it for fun or fame or money;
  • Talk to a lawyer before you do anything else.  Your HR department is not always the best place to report harassment because those employees’ jobs may end up being in jeopardy if they give value to what you report;
  • Document everything that is happening to you.  Keep a journal and take it home with you every night.  Send copies of offensive e-mails to your outside e-mail.  If you are escorted from the building because of your accusations and without an opportunity to return to your office, you will have preserved the evidence; and
  • Tell someone, preferably two trusted colleagues, to have corroborating evidence and avoid the “he said, she said.”

Remember this advice from Gretchen Carlson, and also remember:  If you see something say something.



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Thought For The Day

“Problems can become opportunities when the right people come together.”

Robert Redford

Thought For The Day | Comment

Thought For The Day

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

William Shakespeare

Thought For The Day | Comment

Bravo to the Lawyer Moms

I was in Oklahoma City recently delivering the keynote address at a state bar association conference.  I met many interesting people, including junior lawyers, senior lawyers, male lawyers, female lawyers and judges.  One of the standouts for me was a woman who looked like she could deliver her baby at any minute.  She is a partner in a mid-sized firm, mother of two with a third on the way, and she has my vote for the the I Can Do It All Award.  She did not run off after the luncheon address but stayed for the panel discussion and for the Happy Hour afterwards.  She was all in, with a beautiful smile on her face all the time she was sipping her non-alcoholic beverage and the rest of us were enjoying a glass of wine.

Another woman had an infant in her arms and was doing the “mother rock” in the back of the ballroom throughout my speech.  Most of the audience did not notice her because their attention was focused forward toward me and the screen where the power point was playing.  But, I noticed this woman and her baby, and I loved seeing them there.  It knew that it had to be challenging for her to attend, but I thought that the subject of my speech, Owning Your Career, must have interested her enough to put in the effort.

Later, I saw that young woman with her baby in the hall outside the ballroom.  I told her that I enjoyed seeing her and the baby in the back of the ballroom.  Her response left me speechless.  She told me that, after the speech, she called her husband, who was home taking care of their two-year-old.  She told him that, after hearing me speak, she was sure that she was going to make it through her career challenges.  As she stated, “I now know that I am going to make it because you gave me the confidence I need to meet the challenges and succeed.”  God bless her.  She and others like her are what keep me going at Best Friends at the Bar.

So, when I was thinking about lawyer moms for this blog, I also wondered about the issues of interviewing for a job when you are pregnant.  I have not had that experience, but I found an article that raises all the issues you need to consider if you find yourself in that situation.  Although I am usually on the side of full disclosure, I was surprised to find that I was nodding my head at other possibilities.  I think you will find it helpful if you ever find yourself in that situation or if you are an employer on the other side of the interview.

Best wishes to all you Lawyer Moms.  Bravo!  I feel your pain and also your euphoric feelings of accomplishment.  You rock!

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