Today I am speaking at Gibson Dunn in New York City, in the heart of BigLaw. (OK, so I am not writing this blog as I prepare to take the stage to keynote the luncheon, but my preparation of this blog coincided with my preparation for my remarks at Gibson Dunn. Close enough.)
As I prepared my remarks for “Owning Your Career” for the Gibson Dunn Women’s Mentoring Circle, I recalled an article that I recently read titled “Advice (I wish I had been given) for Women Starting Careers in BigLaw.” The author has been practicing for eight years in Big Law, and she claims to have had an “overwhelmingly positive experience.” I always am happy to hear that. I also am happy to hear that she appreciates the unique challenges to women lawyers that can make or break a career. Certainly she is likely to encounter a lot of them along the road to partnership if that is what her goal is in Big Law. Here are the highlights of the article:
- Don’t let yourself get siloed into ministerial tasks;
- Learn to delegate and don’t feel guilty about it;
- Make your voice heard; and
- If there is an issue, speak up for yourself.
The advice is good, and I especially like the author’s treatment of the last bullet where she states,
If you feel you are not getting the opportunities to which you are entitled, you have two options: (i) you can sulk, blame the firm, complain incessantly over snacks in the associate lounge, anonymously post on ATL and/or quit the firm; or (ii) you can speak up about it.
I compared this to the advice that I gave in this article for Huffington Post a number of years ago. A fundamental difference between the two articles is that I write for all young women lawyers — not just those in Big Law — so my advice is more about career planning and execution that is common to the experience of most women lawyers.
Here is the advice that I offered in that article and that I would offer today — to all women lawyers:
- Embrace the novelty of being a woman lawyer in a field full of men but do it right;
- Recognize that male lawyers and female lawyers think and interact differently;
- Support other women lawyers;
- Create a life balance that includes paying attention to personal needs and health — even while being an excellent lawyer; and
- Craft your own definition of success in the law.
Here also is an interview that I gave to The Muse years ago about why women leave the law. That is looking backwards to see where it all went wrong — something that is helpful to know as well.
And for those of you thinking about a career in the law, here is another advice piece that I did for Girl’s Guide to Law School.
I believe that there is a lot of room for advice from seasoned veterans of the profession, and I also believe that you need all the good advice you can get. So, go ahead and help yourself!