The January/February 2018 BFAB Newsletter


January/February 2018 Newsletter

Greetings from the doldrums of winter — at least for those of us in the MidAtlantic and Northeast.  We are so over winter here and hoping for spring.

But, when the sun shines on the glistening snow in the Rocky Mountains, it is stunning — even at 18 degrees below zero — and our family enjoyed a wildlife tour of Yellowstone National Park in January.  And, yes, we saw wolves!  It was awe-inspiring, and definitely worth braving the cold.

What’s Up at Best Friends at the Bar?

In November, I spoke at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in NYC, and in December I took my usual hiatus to spend holiday time with friends and family.

By January, I was back at my desk and working hard on the final draft of my new book, What Millennial Lawyers Want:  A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice.  I am happy to say that the book will go into production soon at Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers, and I am hoping for a mid-summer release date.  I also am delighted that I will be joined by Linda Myers of Kirkland Ellis, who will write the Foreword to the book.  Linda and I agree that this book is important to Millennial lawyers, who bring a new set of values to the profession, and it is critical to law firm leaders, who must adapt to this new generation of lawyers to retain talent and safeguard succession plans.  To ignore these issues is to risk the future of the law profession.

In February I spoke to the Women Lawyers of Charlotte.   The event was held at the beautiful Foundation for the Carolinas and was a truly great afternoon, complete with a book signing and CLE credits.  Congratulations to the organizers for filling the room with such an enthusiastic audience.

Future engagements include Catholic University Law School, and I also am in discussions with other groups for the spring season.  The program “Owning Your Career” is especially popular, and now is the time to get on my speaking schedule.


Work Space and Time Flexibility:  This is a hot issue for both women lawyers and Millennial lawyers across the globe.  In an on-line article in Australia Financial Review, the author noted that the competition for talent will drive the need for flexibility and commented, “Another seismic shift [in the law profession] will come as flexibility is increasingly embraced by all regardless of gender or parental status.  But will millennials or their policy-embracing leaders force greater change?”

A Milestone of 50% Women in Law Firm Management: Congratulations to Drinker Biddle, which has achieved a 50/50 male/female split on its managing partners committee and its executive management team.  According to an article in, the firm uses a two-step process for selecting firm leaders.

First, eligible partners make their interest known.   To get a more diverse slate of candidates, the Drinker Biddle Women’s Leadership Committee reaches out to eligible women lawyers to assure that all interested women are included and that word of their interest is spread.  Second, the firm conducts a “simple” democratic vote.

It may sound simple, but it must not be if other firms have failed to achieve this milestone.  Hopefully, Drinker Biddle will set the pace for progress.

Women Empowering Women:  A February 2018 conference at Yale Law also addressed female leadership and the many ways that women can empower other women and achieve mutual goals.  The conference featured women leaders from a variety of professions, including law, academia, medicine, performing arts, and education.   The program recognized the importance of female leadership and that the rise of female leaders in America affects how leadership is defined.  Speakers urged attendees to move from “having a seat at the table to being at the head of it” and also noted the importance of men in the conversations about solutions for increasing women in leadership positions — a recurring theme of Best Friends at the Bar.  For more on the conference, see this article.

New York City Enacts Law That Will Help Bring about Pay Parity for Women Lawyers:  On October 31, 2017, a new law went into effect in New York City that restricts employers from asking job applicants about their salary history during the interview and hiring process.  NYC joins Philadelphia, Massachusetts, Delaware, Oregon and Puerto Rico in efforts to legislate bans on salary history inquiries, but NYC’s law was the first one enacted and will be a testing ground on how these kinds of laws will be applied.  Proponents of the new law see it as a means of creating opportunities for women, and particularly women of color, to earn wages based on their skill levels, productivity and market trends rather than past discriminatory pay practices.  For more specifics of the new law, see the discussion on LinkedIn.

Why Are Women Leaving the Law Profession?  Check out this article to get some answers to that question.  Most of the reasons you see there — like lack of flexibility, other work-life issues, gender discrimination, and pay disparity, among others — may not surprise you.  But you may be interested to discover that the ABA has launched a special study to dig deeper into the issues.

To get a different view, read Chapter 1 “Why Women Lawyers Leave” in my book, Best Friends at the Bar:  Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers.  Or, better yet, read the entire book!  You will find that negative law firm cultures and values, which are incompatible to women, are at the heart of the issue.


Dating in Law Firms:   This is always a thorny issue,  and it is not going away.  Most of us know participants in office-based romances, and most of us have seen some of those relationships go very bad.  However, it is a hard situation to address and enforce against.

In a recent article, Big Law recognizes the interplay between sexual harassment workplace issues and issues surrounding workplace romantic relationships and makes the following recommendations:

  • Law firms should refresh workplace dating policies to require notification, prevent favoritism and recognize conflicts of interest;
  • The best advice may be to avoid office-based romantic relationships altogether, but that is not realistic.  Lawyers spend most of their waking hours together in law firms, and team work is more important than ever.  As a result, preventing people from developing affection for each other is an impractical goal; and
  • Law firms should not go overboard in defining inappropriate relationships in ways that discourage male partners from including women in groups of men attending social events.

This is something that all law firms need to be thinking about and talking about.

That’s a Wrap!

Are you interested in an event at your law firm, law organization or law school?  Contact me for program descriptions and scheduling on subjects including:

  • Issues challenging women lawyers, which are in the public conversation more than ever these days.  You want to make sure your law firm, law school and/or law organization takes advantage of the most recent information and trends to keep up with the competition;
  • Programs for Millennial Lawyers for ALL young lawyers and those who lead them.  These programs are not gender specific and address issues that all law schools, law firms and law organizations need to be discussing; and
  • Soft Skills for ALL Young Lawyers.  Research confirms that soft skills are responsible for 80% of success in business.  So, it is time to make sure that young lawyers become skilled in these areas to make your law firm more competitive.

You also are invited to Be My Guest! by contributing a column to a future newsletter.  It is a good way to connect with my readers.

Buy My Books from Amazon and Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers direct from my website.  All of my blogs are reprinted on my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, and most of them also are reprinted on the Ms JD website.  Click “share” and re-tweet to move them on to others and show your support for BFAB.

Keep up with me on:

My next newsletter will appear in April 2018.  Until then, turn to the Best Friends at the Bar website to keep up with recent happenings on the blogs and social media there.

See you in the spring!


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Thought For The Day: Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. Peter Drucker

Thought For The Day | Comment

How Women Lawyers Perceive Men’s Behavior

It can be difficult to know how men and women are supposed to relate to each other in the workplace these days.  What is too much affection, and, God forbid, what is too much touching?  I have seen close colleagues in an office awkwardly come together for either a handshake or a hug or a cheek kiss, and it is not certain where the gesture will end up.  It resembles some kind of crane-like mating dance, and it is, of course, because they are uncertain about what is appropriate and not appropriate and what is allowed and not allowed.  It is painful to watch.

Everyone is a bit confused.  How much is too much is being addressed by many law firms today in the wake of the most open and candid conversation about sexual harassment that we ever have had in this country.  There is no right or wrong answer to many of the situations posited because firms will differ in their policies from one to the other.  And, most of that needs to be left to them.  They understand their cultures, and, presumably, they will create policies that are reflective of their people and those cultures.

But, there are a few standard responses to the “what is appropriate” question, and most of them fall better into the category of “what is outrageous” and clearly outside the realm of acceptable.  In an article this week by Patricia Hunt Holmes, retired partner at Vinson & Elkins, some of those standard responses are addressed.  In calling out “Men in Law,” Ms. Holmes lays out very clearly how women perceive men in the workplace and why the grades are low.   Here are some of the nuggets with a bit of my own commentary thrown in:

  • Don’t call women by names that you would use for a child — like honey, doll, sweetie and baby.  You laugh … but the evidence confirms that it still is happening.  Not ancient history like when I was an associate in a law firm and the FEDERAL JUDGE called me “honey.”  Definitely a “no no” then, and a “no no” now.  Miss or Ma’am will do.  It sounds stiff and archaic, but at least it is respectful;
  • Stop flirting with every woman in sight.  Most women are not interested, and the ones who are should not be — not in the workplace.  It almost never works out for them, and they should know it.  Keep it conversational and on terms that will allow you to continue to be colleagues without the baggage that comes from awkward sexual innuendo; and
  • Keep your door open when you are conferring with a female colleague in your office.  Only in situations where security is in question and information is very confidential should you ever close your door to the outside world when you are alone with a woman in your office.  It will lead to office rumors and can be very harmful to the woman’s career — not yours.  Years ago, when I was a much younger lawyer,  the managing partner of the firm always closed his door when he and I met in his office, and my secretary described for me what went on in the hallway outside.  Lots of speculating and twittering and a fair amount of jealousy thrown in.  That did me no good, and the men should know better.  They cannot be that clueless.

It is to her credit that Ms. Holmes takes the role of helping hand as it relates to the men she is addressing.  She calls them “good people” and reminds them of how their “missteps” can rob them of meaningful relationships with female colleagues.  She also cautions them not to allow the “current hysteria” to cause them to avoid working with women.

I know that the sweetie name calling, the flirting and the behind closed doors treatments sound like something out of a bygone era.  However, sadly, think again.  There is still a lot of bad stuff going on out there, and you need to have your eyes wide open.  These are the obvious ones.  It is the subtle ones that really will trip you up.







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Thought For The Day: To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country. George Washington

Thought For The Day | Comment

Thought For The Day: Don’t try to be perfect. Just be an excellent example of a human being. Tony Robbins

Thought For The Day | Comment


Today, Valentines Day, is a day for celebrating love.  We buy cards with red and pink hearts and poetic verses expressing our love, we share classic red (the color of love) roses with our loved ones, we have intimate candle lit dinners demonstrating our love, and we thank the powers that be for the opportunity to love whomever we wish.

Oh, wait a minute …. you say you are caught in the office and not able to participate in the Day of Love?  You cannot see yourself clear to taking a few hours off in the name of love?  And I say, if that is the case, you are overlooking the most important love of all.  The love of yourself.

Your job is not limited to the office.  It also is your “job” to love yourself, and that begins with a recognition that you must take care of yourself to be helpful and effective and loving to the others in your life.  It all starts with YOU.

Take time out for pleasure.  Take time out for people.  Take time out for just plain doing nothing and staring at a beautiful sunset.  It will help you gain perspective and make the hours spent toiling at your desk seem much less of a burden.  It will give you things to look forward to.  That is essential for healthy living and the balance that we all need.

So, love yourself.   Today is the perfect day to start.  Happy Valentines Day!

Career Counselors, Law Students, Lifestyle, Practice Advice, Young Lawyer | Comment

Thought For The Day: The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. Oscar Wilde

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Thought For The Day: I can live for two months on a good compliment. Mark Twain

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