Thought For The Week

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and good women] to do nothing. Edmund Burke

Career Counselors, Thought For The Day | Comment

Women Equality Day

I hope you will join me by celebrating Women Equality Day today. Maybe you celebrated it with your work friends or in your family earlier today. I not only think of all of you today and the struggles of women throughout the ages to claim equal treatment, but I also think of my mother.

Today my mother would have been 105 years old. She lived to be 101, and hers was a life to be celebrated. But it was not an easy life. She witnessed her own mother die in the Spanish Flu pandemic when my mother and her sisters were only 2, 3 and 4 years old. They learned to be strong very early in their lives. They were blessed with a loving father and stepmother with a shared value in education, who made certain that those three women attended and graduated from college.

My Mom graduated from the University of Wisconsin in the 1930’s where she met my father, who was in law school during her undergraduate years. I am sure my father was attracted to her not only because of her beauty but also because she was a smart and independent woman, who would be an asset to his career. And she was. She taught high school English and Spanish until her first child was born, and she gave countless hours to charities throughout her life. At 95 years old, she was still editing the church newsletter, tutoring a friend’s grandchild in English composition, and correcting my grammar at every opportunity!

She was a force, and my father relied on her counsel and excellent instincts throughout his life. She vetted his employees, and she weighed in on the trustworthiness of some of his clients and opposing counsel. Dad always sought out the Ginny Seal of Approval.

These blessings fell to me. The example of a strong woman is one of the most important things we can give to our children. Not just our daughters but also our sons —- the ones we want to respect strong women and find a strong woman to enrich their lives. I have passed this example on to my daughter and my son, both of whom make me proud every day — not just as young lawyers but also because of their staunch independence and remarkable strength and perseverence.

And now I have a precious granddaughter and more work to do. It will be my pleasure to be an example of strength and competence and compassion to her as well. It is how we, as women, fight for our equality and the equality for all women to follow.

We still have a way to go. Women are not treated equally in all settings and for all purposes. But, we are making strides. This month we celebrated 100 years of women’s right to vote in America, and, more recently, we have made great strides toward equal pay, paid maternity leave, and advances for women in the areas of politics, medicine, law and business.

Let’s not forget our achievements, and let’s celebrate the amazing women in our lives. Every day and everywhere. And let’s not take any of it for granted.

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

Thought For The Week

Let your excellence lead the way. The next opportunity will find you. Marsha B. Henderson

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Good News for BFAB

I am pleased to report that I have been asked to write a monthly column for the ABA Journal on issues related to today’s practice for young lawyers. I am delighted with this new direction for Best Friends at the Bar and look forward to bringing my messages to you in this additional medium. The columns will appear during the last week of each month, starting in September 2020, mostly as part of the ABA Journal on-line version but occasionally in the print magazine as well.

Thank you for your support for my project, which was launched in 2009 and has made this new opportunity possible. If you have a particular subject that you would like me to explore, please e-mail me at [email protected] with your suggestions.

Career Counselors | Comment

Privacy Issues in a Zoom World

This is a continuation in a series of blogs based on information gleaned from a Women in Law Empowerment (WILEF) virtual meeting presented by the WILEF Chicago Young Lawyers Committee to address impacts on women lawyers of practice during the pandemic. The first installment, published on August 5, 2020, addressed the subject of setting boundaries, and today’s topic is dealing with privacy issues in a Zoom world.

Although Zoom and its competitor programs have become de rigueur during the COVID-19 isolation and working from home, these new technologies are not wholly satisfactory substitutes for our needs to interact for the purposes of business. Most of us will agree that allowing business colleagues and clients into your home with a full front view of your lifestyle in this virtual world is a little daunting. It conjures up issues like how much of your private life do you want to expose and what is your comfort level with these new “meeting” formats? Sure, you can elect a substitute background to make it appear that you are on a beach in Tahiti instead of in your rather modest living room, but that strikes some people as a little disingenuous and not quite as transparent as they would like. But getting into a competition about whether your wall art is up to the challenge, which inevitably becomes a topic of conversation, is a useless waste of energy.

So, what is the compromise position? Although it may be fun to see the way your colleagues live and have them share your home surroundings, the visuals also come with some audios of the cat or the dog or, yes, the kids. As I have noted before, telling the kids not to disturb daddy because he is on an important call usually works. But, it does not work with mommy, who is presumed to be available 24/7 and to have no other purpose in life than to satisfy the every need of her family. It is not clear whether seeing these more intimate aspects of your life at home matters, but certainly comfort levels will differ from one person to another. It is your job to identify whatever suits you and make it happen.

And what about client calls? That surely ups the ante. Most of us are not comfortable having clients know too much about our personal lives lest they take advantage of breaching the privacy barriers whenever they experience a particularly compelling need. So, the suggestion of making client calls while walking the dog, as suggested by one panelist, made sense to me. If you don’t have a dog, borrow one or power walk without one. The effect is the same — unless Fido gets into a puppy brawl and blows your cover.

The bottom line is that you need to find your comfort zone and stick to it. I attend all of my virtual Zoom meetings from my office with the door locked! (Even my husband has been known to “storm the Bastille” in need of something he identifies as urgent, and that is unacceptable — unless of course the house is burning down or we have run out of wine). So I lock the door and throw away the key for the duration of my virtual call or meeting. It works for me.

Next up: The Critical Need for Interaction with Colleagues During a Pandemic

Career Counselors, Law Students, Lifestyle, Practice Advice, Young Lawyer | 1 Comment

Thought For The Week

The time is always right to do what is right. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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A Day For All Women

As I write, we are awaiting the first appearance of VP Biden and Senator Kamala Harris as the Democratic Presidential Ticket duo. Every woman in America should be encouraged by this new development.

Some of you will enthusiastically embrace the Biden/Harris ticket. Some of you will not based on differences about the issues. Some of you are still in limbo. But that is not the point. I never have politicized from this platform, and I will not start now.

There is much more to reflect on today. This is a momentous day for all women who are tired of being ignored and marginalized. Women make up 51% of the population in America, and they deserve recognition based on that alone. Women have shown up in record numbers at the polls in recent elections, and, yet, there are so relatively few of them on ballots across the nation — and even fewer who are elected.

Women have proven themselves to be very effective leaders in business and on boards of directors when given the chance, and their acumen and competence in those arenas is impressive. They are natural leaders, natural negotiators, naturally empathetic and naturally conversant in all manners of effective communication. They are everything that leadership requires EXCEPT access. Too many women with great leadership potential are overlooked for petty and indefensible reasons that simply are related to the fact that they have extra X chromosomes.

As women lawyers, we should be offended by that. We understand the challenges we face as women lawyers, all of which are the foundation of the Best Friends at the Bar project. Too many of us have experienced gender discrimination, sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace that should have been ancient history long before we entered the workforce.

So, we ALL have something to be energized about today. Yes, there have been other women who came close to breaking the highest glass ceiling in politics, but none of them have represented the competence in so many settings and on so many levels, including local, state and national elected office, and none of them have represented both gender and broad cultural diversity that the selection of Kamala Harris represents in her addition to a presidential ticket.

Some of those prior candidacies have happened in my lifetime, and I admit that I was disappointed in them for one reason or another. But I strongly believe that we do not have an obligation to support women just because they are women, and I have engaged in many heated discussions over time defending my belief. I believe we support our fellow women because they are competent, because we admire them, and because we feel confident that they will represent us well in advancing the futures of all women.

No matter your political preferences, I hope you will join me in celebrating the advancement of women at this historic moment. Herald it, celebrate it, and use it however you can to move the agenda of all women forward.

That is what it means to be a woman.

Career Counselors, Law Students, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | 1 Comment

Thought for the Week

Listen and silent are comprised of the exact same letters. It takes both to advance your agenda. Unknown

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