BFAB Weighs in on the Sheryl Sandberg “Lean In” Debate

By now, most professional women in America are aware of the controversy over the much-anticipated book by Sheryl Sandberg.  That book, Lean In, is scheduled to be released in mid March, and it already is being widely reviewed—-even before some of the reviewers have read the book!

That is exactly what you can expect when Sheryl Sandberg is involved.  As a former executive at Google and the current COO and board member at Facebook, she is an extraordinary business woman, and her lectures to women in Silicon Valley, especially, about getting ahead in business are legendary.

Although I admire so much of what Sheryl Sandberg stands for, it is not clear to me that all of her messages work for women in the business of law.  It also is not clear to me that they work for all women in more traditional business, but I will leave that to the experts in that arena.  At the very least, however, I will find it unfortunate if one of the messages from Ms. Sandberg is that the only meritorious career paths are the ones leading straight to corner offices.  Many women, who cannot put that kind of energy into their careers at certain times in their lives, are likely to interpret that as meaning that their careers are not successful.  From my perspective, that would be regrettable.

So, I entered the fray with an article that was published on Girl’s Guide to Law School last week.  Here is the link:

The purpose of the article was to point out the differences between succeeding in traditional business and in a law career—-the billable hour being the big difference— and the advisability of allowing for Personal Definitions of Success for women in the law.   That does not mean that law firms have to have two different sets of rules for success—-one for men and one for women.  What it does mean is that, if women are not able to succeed according to the male definitions of success at certain times in their lives when the responsibilities for childcare and family are too demanding, they should be able to redefine success at those times in their careers—-and that those decisions should be treated with dignity.   Whether that means continuing to practice in a law firm or in an alternative practice setting, there are options, and many of those options are explored in the transition profiles in my second book, Best Friends at the Bar:  The New Balance for Today’s Woman Lawyer.  We also need to get beyond the point where people are so judgmental about the personal decisions of others and just be darned glad that we are keeping women in the profession of law one way or another and reversing the talent drain.

I particularly am pleased that the article in Girl’s Guide to Law Schools came out before the articles in the Washington Post and other newspapers last weekend.  It demonstrates that Best Friends at the Bar is on the cutting edge of issues that affect you and inform your futures, and I will do everything possible to keep it that way.

So, check out the Girl’s Guide to Law School article and let me know where you stand in the Sheryl Sandberg/Annemarie Slaughter/Marissa Mayer debate.  If you do not recognize those other two names, you really need to read the article and the newspapers!


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One Response to BFAB Weighs in on the Sheryl Sandberg “Lean In” Debate

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