Women Lawyers as Leaders

Women of World Law Group (WOW) is new to me. And I am very pleased to add it to my resources for the advancement of women and to share it with you.

The group hosted its first ever WOW Talk in March during Women’s History Month, and this article summarizes the discussion about women and leadership during that event. The topic was “She For She Leaders Building Leaders,” and it centered on the importance of leadership to career advancement.

Women are natural leaders, but they do not always take advantage of those skills. They can become leaders in the sorority, leaders in parents groups, and leaders in non-profit and community groups, but seeing themselves as leaders in business and law is more of a stretch. That is probably the result of male-dominated career choices and letting males define them within those environments. That is a pattern that needs to be broken wide open, and women need to be the ones to do it.

Below is a “To Do” list from that first WOW talk.

*Be involved in cultural change;

*Identify your leadership style;

*See yourself as a leader;

*Find mentorship and sponsorship;


*Overcome challenges;

*Define balance and boundaries;

*Build connections with senior leaders;

*Embrace a growth mindset; and

*Be authentic.

For specifics, read the article. Then make your own “To Do” list that is tailored to your experiences and objectives. Keep that list on your desk, and consult it daily.

Become the leader you were meant to be and soar in your career. It all is possible.

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Thought For The Week: “If you are afraid to offend, you cannot be honest.” Thomas Paine

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What Do Layoffs and Business Development Have in Common?

It’s in the wind, and I cannot ignore it. According to this article, Big Law associates continue to be worried about their jobs. Layoffs have happened to date as a result of the most recent economic downturn, and economic woes are predicted to continue for awhile into the future.

Although there is not a lot that the most vulnerable lawyers, aka associates, can do about the economy, it is no time for them to sit on their hands and hope that the next work assignment to show up on their screens.

Under circumstances like this, associate lawyers need to become proactive. They need to improve their chances for success in the legal field by getting involved in business development. Being proactive in this way for the benefit of the firm also will increase job security and provide some cushion against the next round of layoffs.

It will not be easy. Developing business is hard for all lawyers, and it is especially hard for women lawyers, who typically face challenges related to what remains a male-dominated profession. The relatively few female role models and the lack of comfort with traditional male centric business development strategies make client development particularly daunting for young women lawyers.

But the difficulty does not stop with women lawyers. The transition to being responsible for developing business is hard for all young lawyers. The reality that it is not enough to have achieved superb legal skills can be alarming. It was a steep climb, but it is not the end of the road. More is required to prove yourself.

My best advice for becoming comfortable with what can be a heavy lift is to find excellent instruction in CLE, bar association, and consultant programs to perfect your business development skills. Learn from those who have done it, and stick with the program. If the instructor says make five cold calls a week to prospective clients, make them. If your instructor says send out a helpful business/legal article to five potential clients a week, do it. If your instructor tells you to organize a happy hour with a group of your business friends, do it.

Just do it. Sell, sell, sell. Your effort will be noticed, and you may strike gold. And equally as important, perhaps, you will not be sitting around doing nothing. There is too much of that going on these days, and it is easy for boredom to morph into anxiety and depression.

And anxiety and depression are places you want to avoid most.

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Thought For The Week: “The only way to prove you are a good sport is to lose.” Ernie Banks

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Young Lawyers Should Avoid Personal Comparisons

My friend Jezra Kaye is a consultant and author about all things to improve communications and public speaking. In her recent newsletter, she worte about the dangers of “comparison-itis”. Comparing ourselves to others has become an epidemic. Here’s how Jezra explains it:

How many times today have you compared yourself to somebody else?

Depending on what time of day you’re reading this, the answer might be once, or twice…or way more.

After all, there’s no limit to how often we can put ourselves down by finding people who do something “better” than we do. There’s:

  • The colleague who speaks more fluently than you;
  • The sibling who has more money than you;
  • The friend who’s always been cooler than you;
  • The classmate who’s more “successful” than you.

Then there’s the really tough one: The person you should have been if you’d just been able to meet the “perfectly reasonable” standards of your parents, your school, your social class, even yourself.

Do you recognize yourself in Jezra’s words? You know you do. We all indulge in personal comparisons more than we should. And it is not healthy, and we all should stop it.

Put away Facebook, Instagram and all other social media toys that lead you to the bad place of PERSONAL COMPARISONS. That black hole. The not-gift that keeps on giving.

In my experience, unhealthy personal comparison is especially true for young lawyers. A young associate may be making great money that provides him/her with all that person needs, but SOMEONE is always making more. That same associate lawyer may be on the road to partnership, but SOMEONE just made it a year early. Or that young lawyer may have won a tough case, but the recovery was less than SOMEONE else got. And the list goes on and on, seemingly forever.

Shake off that burden. No one needs pressure like that. Just be your own wonderful self. Have confidence and love the way you look and all that you have accomplished. Know your own unique value and be proud of all that you have done in the past and can look forward to in the future.

It will save you a lot of wasted time. And, last time I checked, an abundance of time to waste is something that most young lawyers do not have.

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Thought For The Week: “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” George Washington

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Tips For Being A Succesful Woman Lawyer

I have included information about becoming a successful woman lawyer in several books in the Best Friends at the Bar series and in earlier blogs on this website and in the almost 100 programs I have presented on the subject. However, from time to time, I want you to hear it from other sources.

Although it is true that the advice from most senior women lawyers includes common themes, there is often an anecdotal aspect to some writer’s information that is helpful and may resonate best with you. Here is one such source.

Mary Resnik’s approach is to use your skills to stand up for your clients by standing up for yourself. She was not afraid to take on challenges, especially as they related to the Old Boys Clubs. Her advice is straight forward and practical and will help you to prepare yourself for success and avoid the pitfalls that inevitably will stand in your way.

As with any advice, you need to massage it a bit to make it work for you. Tailor it to your own personality, your own professional setting, and your own personal circumstances. One size does not necessarily fit all, but all information is useful. And the more perspectives you consider, the greater the possibility that you will find what works best for YOU.

Good luck in the pursuit of your own special brand of success.

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Thought For The Week: “Friendship is a sheltering tree.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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