Thought For The Day: A kind word is like a spring day. RUSSIAN PROVERB

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Attention Women Lawyers: Equal Pay Day

I am a day late in recognizing Equal Pay Day.  Regretfully because it is an important day.

If you are not sure what Equal Pay Day is all about, here is a blog from the past to help you out.  Although it is now two years after this blog was written, the statistics have not changed much.  Women are still not being paid equally for equal work.

Equal Pay Day — Yes, It Still Is an Issue for Women Lawyers

I also want to make it clear that flexible hours — when you do the work — has nothing to do with whether you do the work.  So, the reader, who misinterpreted my statement in an earlier blog on equal pay, should stand assured that I am 100% behind the concepts of flexible schedules and telecommuting.  Work is work.  No matter where it is performed and when.  Unfortunately, however, not everyone sees it that way, and I always acknowledge the other side in preparation for the debate.

Hopefully I will be able to report more progress in future years.  The wheels of progress grind slowly.

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Salary/Benefits Negotiations for All Young Lawyers

Last week I attended the Georgetown University Women’s Forum, an expanded version  of the Georgetown Women’s Law Forum.  As a Georgetown Law grad, I am a big fan of this conference.  Keep your eye out for it next year!  You don’t have to be a Hoya to attend.

Here are some tips that I picked up on salary/benefits negotiations, and they apply to all young lawyers.  Think of it as your Ten Step Method to Greater Job Satisfaction.

1.  Set the stage.  In preparation for a meeting to discuss more salary or benefits, ask your supervisor for time to discuss your career development.  Thank him/her for taking the time for this important discussion and compliment past mentoring efforts if possible.

Then get prepared!

2.  Know your value.  Begin the conversation with your pitch so that you accomplish your goal for the meeting.  Focus on your accomplishments and the skills that you bring to the organization.  Include seminars and conferences you have attended, papers you have published, and initiatives you have helped launch.

Numbers matter, so create data.  Everything counts, but do not fall into the pattern of taking on responsibilities just for the reporting value.  Always be strategic and learn to say no to things that are not you.  Be authentic.

Practice, practice, practice your presentation — out loud or with partner.  Welcome comments and criticism to improve the product.

3.  Know your target salary.  Determine a salary range, both high and low, and know your walk away point.

Do your research.  Comparable firms and office locations are key.  Firms pay different salaries in different locations depending on the market and cost of living analyses.

Make the ask.  More money.  A new title.  A new responsibility to enhance your career.  All of these are important, but you HAVE TO ASK.

4. Know what benefits are important to you.  Understand that sometimes benefits can be more important than salary.  It is all about what improves your individual situation.  Examples of benefits to consider are:

  • Flex time and commuting;
  • Health insurance;
  • Life and disability insurance;
  • Retirement investment plans;
  • Medical, personal and family leave;
  • Tuition reimbursement;
  • Vacation time; and
  • Work-life balance.

5.  Have a strategy going into salary/benefits negotiations.  Be positive and flexible, and don’t got too personal.  Treat it like a business discussion.

Deflect some questions that you do not feel comfortable answering.  Salary history, for example, is against the law in five states.  If an application form asks for that information, put N/A if you do not think the answer benefits you.

If you are asked about salary expectation, answer with a salary range and follow up with your desire to learn more about the position and responsibilities.

Or turn the question around, as in, “What do you usually pay for this position?”

6.  Timing is critical.  The best times to ask for more salary or improved benefits is after a big win or a very successful event or when you know a new budget is being rolled out.

Do not wait until an annual review and lose the advantage of the moment.

Do not ask during a crunch time in your business or when your boss is under stress either at office or at home.

7.  Be patient.  Give time for a thoughtful response.  Be ready for the back and forth.  Be prepared for counteroffers.

8.  Anticipate possible responses.  You may hear:

  • “We don’t have the budget.”  Your response could be, “How about increasing my salary by half that amount and talk again in six months.”  A classic negotiation technique.  Half a loaf often is better than none and might work for you.
  • OR, “You would be the highest paid member of the team at the salary you are suggesting.”  You may want to respond by distinguishing your accomplishments from those of the rest of the team.
  • OR, “Is there anything besides more money that would be important to you?”  If more money is out of the question, ask for a benefit that does not come out of your department budget—- like an educational benefit.  Try not to leave without gaining something to enhance your position.

9.  Get it in writing.  Don’t risk your conversation getting lost in the shuffle or not being communicated to others when your supervisor leaves.

10.  Become comfortable with the process.  You will be using it throughout your career.

I hope this is helpful.  I know that it would have been helpful to me so many years ago.

Good luck negotiating for yourself!


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Thought For April Fool’s Day: Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this. HENRY DAVID THOREAU

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Thought For The Day: It’s OK to have an unexpressed thought. JOHN KENNEDY, CURRENT US SENATOR

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Millennial Men and Gender Bias

So what’s up with millennial males and gender bias?  For years, we have been hearing that millennial men (those born between approximately 1980 and 2000) are very attuned to equality between the sexes.  And, it makes sense if you know anything about the values of millennials.  (And if you do not, I recommend that you read my book, What Millennial Lawyers Want: A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice, Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers, 2018.)

The value of respect is very high on the list of millennial generation values, and it also is at the heart of gender equality.  Gender researchers have contended for almost a half century that every generation has become more egalitarian — right up to the millennials.  And that would make sense, not only because of millennial values but also because comfort between the sexes in business seems to be on the rise.

So, I was surprised to read a recent article by Chris Haigh on the blog citing evidence from a variety of studies and polls to conclude that “discriminatory gender stereotypes and biases are just as pervasive and influential — if not more so — among Millennial men as they were among the men of earlier generations.”  Although the authorities cited were not as current as I would have liked, it was disturbing to read.

The author based his findings on research showing that, “Most people believe they are unbiased and egalitarian.  But when forced to confront specific situations and express their actual preferences, people’s implicit biases typically come out” and on a poll taken by Harris as early as 2014 showing that “young men are less comfortable than older men with women holding positions of power in traditional male fields.”  Accordingly, the author concluded that, “Expecting the pervasive biases against women to fade away as younger generations take control of our major organizations is foolish at best and counterproductive at worst.”

Whew!  That is not what I expected — after spending a considerable amount of time studying millennials and millennial lawyers and their values and behaviors — and I was hoping for more from the male lawyers of that generation.  I still am, in fact.

But, I also know from the young women lawyers I interface with on a regular basis, including the superstar variety who are on the fast track to partnership or have already arrived there, how implicit bias continues to play out in the workplace and interfere with their career advancement.  And I also know that it is not just about scheduling meetings early in the morning or late in the day, which disadvantages women lawyers with young children.  And it is not all about staging promotional and client events that are centered on testosterone-driven activities that give male lawyers a leg up in client development.

It is also about assigning detail-oriented projects to female lawyers because they are “so much better at details” than their male colleagues — while, at the same time, assigning strategic and conceptually-centered tasks to the male lawyers — disadvantages women and leaves them behind the power curve when it comes time to evaluate them for partnership.  And that is a really big problem.

It goes something like this:  “Oops.  Sorry.  She was so mired down in the details that she never got that highly-prized deposition and motions practice experience, and we just don’t think she is ready for prime time.”  Sorry indeed.  That’s a lot to be sorry for.

We must do better.  Implicit bias is insipid.  We need to begin by educating our sons — and our husbands and our fathers.  Research shows that most males do not think that implicit bias even exists.  Ask the men in your life.  See if they can even come close to being able to define it — or even if they care to try.

So, we have our work cut out for us.

Darn.  I thought those millennial males were going to save us the trouble.






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Thought For The Day: Promise yourself to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own. CHRISTIAN D. LARSON

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Thought For The Day: Turn your wounds into wisdom. OPRAH WINFREY

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