Posted on March 24, 2023
My article titled “Practical Skills Young Attorneys Must Master To Be Happier” posted at Law360 yesterday. I hope you can access it through your Law360 subscription service.
The article includes discussion of some of the strategies for success that are included in my new book, New Lawyer Launch: The Handbook for Young Lawyers (Full Court Press, 2023). Like all the books in the Best Friends at the Bar series, the book is available on Amazon Books.
Do yourself a favor and start your legal career aware of the challenges and how to handle them. Read New Lawyer Launch and recommend it widely. It is truly a game changer.
That is the message that I delivered to a group of law students at GT Law today when I attended an alumni program. Those law students did not miss a beat and rushed to their phones to place book orders. They understand what they need to do to be competitive in summer associate programs and as young lawyers after graduation. You need that, too!
Posted on March 16, 2023
In recognition of International Women Day, here are some tips from accomplished women lawyers across “The Pond.” As you will see, the challenges for women lawyers extends beyond national borders.
And, yes, as you can see from one of the readers comments, there is an International Men’s Day. Although I find it tiresome that it has to come to that kind of competition. The reason that you may not have heard about International Men’s Day is probably because men don’t see the need to band together and celebrate each other as much as women do. I guess that is what happens when you are always in the power position.
We need to do something about that. And that is the point of the article.
Enjoy the read. There is something in it for everyone.
Posted on March 8, 2023
Read this article about one of the world’s largest law firms and efforts to advance women lawyers. Sounds good, right? Mentoring, shadowing, helping them gain the skills to climb the ladder and generate profits. That’s the way to help women professionals — or so it seems.
Another way to look at it is that programs like this are missing the point — if that is all the firms have to offer. And too often it is. What about flexible hours? What about on-site childcare? What about equal pay for equal work? What about all of the things that help to make the lives of women lawyers, who also continue to be the primary caretakers of their children, easier? So that their brains are not fried and they can excel at being mentors and shadows.
It is not that mentoring and shadowing is not important. It is. But it also is one of the easiest things for employers to provide and does not cost them a lot of money.
I don’t know about you, but I want to see law firms and other legal employers put their money where their mouths are. The truth is that there continues to be a huge talent drain for women lawyers because they are exhausted, strung out, burned out. There is simply not enough time in the work week to manage childcare, respond to the demands of the office, travel for client needs, be responsive to schools and homework … and the list goes on and on and on.
Women lawyers need REAL HELP. Let’s get serious about what that help is.
Posted on March 1, 2023
It has been a roller coaster in Biglaw for the last few years. Hiring frenzies, signing bonuses and unprecedented activity on the lateral partner scene. Young lawyers got used to being contacted by head hunters and being in the driver’s seat. Whether that was a good thing or a bad thing, we know that it was a real thing. We also know that most good things eventually come to an end.
And that end may be now. According to an article on Above The Law, Biglaw’s hiring fenzy is over and signing bonuses have evaporated. Add that to the new reality about the value of “in the office” time, and the result might be a shock to young lawyers who have been practicing from their couches and got used to being paid handsomely for it.
But it is not all doom and gloom. The projection is that Biglaw is getting back to a pre-COVID normal for the lateral market at least, and the pace has returned to steady not frenzied. Read more of the conversation, as originally seen on the American Lawyer.
Having reasonable expectations is especially important as the pendulum swings in Biglaw. Being informed is key.
Posted on February 8, 2023
My new book, New Lawyer Launch: The Handbook for Young Lawyers (Full Court Press, 2022), is out! New Lawyer Launch is available in paperback, PDF, ebook and Kindle on Amazon and on the publisher’s book page at https://www.fastcase.com/product/new-lawyer-launch-the-handbook-for-young-lawyers/ where you can view the book and see inside. It is the support young lawyers need to help them succeed.
New Lawyer Launch is a tutorial on practical skills, stress management, and achieving the job satisfaction that is very much at risk for young lawyers today. It will reduce the guess work and give entry-level lawyers the confidence they need to do the job they have chosen.
I am joined in the book by more than 15 Book Contributors, including leaders of Biglaw, who shared their best advice for young lawyers. In addition to “Strategies for Success and Survival,” the book includes information about law practice settings, legal specialties, and related careers.
Topics addressed in the book include:
- What it means to be a professional and what kind of behavior is expected of lawyers, including a plea for civil discourse;
- Making a strong first impression and getting off to a positive start;
- Being respectful to the staff;
- Being sensitive to office politics;
- Mastering the art of billing hours and tracking business expenses;
- Being careful with social media;
- Controlling tempers;
- Protecting work product;
- Steering clear of toxic colleagues;
- Respecting deadlines and setting boundaries;
- Being effective team members;
- Being competent at self-advocacy and networking and understanding the concepts behind business development;
- Developing leadership skills;
- Learning law firm economics;
- Paying attention to work-life balance and wellness; and
- Avoiding overspending to keep options open.
Everything that young lawyers and law students need to know —- that is not taught in law school — is in this book. It also can be used effectively by senior lawyers to develop successful mentoring programs.
Order your copies today to support the young lawyers in your life. Make it required reading for law school Professional Responsibility classes, include it in the welcome baskets for new associates, and make it available to mentors.
EVERYBODY WINS with this book. Young lawyers do their jobs better and to greater satisfaction, and senior lawyers spend less time complaining and more time mentoring effectively.
Posted on February 1, 2023
Don’t shoot the messenger when you read this article on Above the Law. The tension was inevitable.
The gist of the article is that Biglaw associates have become a bit too set in their ways on the WFH issue and will have to flex up to get back to the office to meet the requirements of employers. That firms wants more in-office presence now that the pandemic seems behind us should have been expected, but returning to in-office practice is not being met with a lot of real world perspective by young lawyers. The risk from such inflexible attitudes is to be “left behind.” And in the current hiring market, that is not a good place to be.
According to an associate recruiter from Major, Lindsey & Africa: “We, as society and the legal industry, are in the position where we need to commit to change and endure some of the tougher, more inconvenient parts. That is, if [associates] want to maintain a sense of community that brought them to the firm.”
Hopefully firm managers will not become too selfish either. Some of the blended programs for return-to-the-office, which require a part-time presence, appear reasonable and workable. There is not much argument that America has gone overboard with expanding work hours and the work week, too, so there is plenty of room for improvement.
And for Biglaw, there is no time like the present.
Posted on January 25, 2023
This article should make you wonder what century we are living in. Male law students at one of the top-ranked US law schools rate female law students based on their attractiveness and detract points if the female is deemed too ambitious or too smart. Yes, you read that right. Too ambitious or too smart. All I can say is YUK.
The ranking took place at the University of Texas Law School, which is ranked 17th on the latest US News &World Report. As stated by the partner of one of the female students at UT Law, “It is scary to think that these boys might be future leaders in our judicial system. What an embarrassment.” Hear, hear.
Apparently the spokesperson for UT Law has no comment. No kidding.
Posted on January 18, 2023
Rarely do I see a bio of a woman lawyer like this. Yes, there are the Ruth Bader Ginsburgs and the Sandra Day O’Connors and others of their visibility and accomplishments, but none quite like this. None that is as down to earth and yet as lofty at the same time.
To read about a woman who practiced law into her 90’s and became a criminal defense lawyer because she ” thought that facing the unknown and having to think on her feet was heaven” is nothing short of inspiring.
I hope you will take the time to read about Eleanor Jackson Piel. It is true that she lived in a different time and that accomplishing what she did might not be as easy today. My guess is that electronic filing would get a little challenging for a ninety-some year old lawyer today. But the true grit and determination of this woman are timeless.
But, as the article asks, why should someone like Eleanor Jackson Piel have to die for her accomplishments to be heralded far and wide? Why shouldn’t those threads of greatness be celebrated while she is alive and can appreciate the value others see in her accomplishments?
Although there is nothing we can do about the slow recognition in the case of Ms. Piel, we can do something about the senior lawyers with great accomplishments under their belts who we interface with every day. We can let them know how appreciated they are and how grateful we are to breathe their same air and learn from them. We can acknowledge their value to the young lawyers who, too often, wander the halls clueless and afraid to ask for help until that salient moment when a lawyer like Eleanor Jackson Piel approaches to say, “Can I help you?”
I hope you have such a salient moment, and I hope you handle it well by taking advice and returning praise and thanks.