Hot Temps and Hot Topics for Young Women Lawyers

Last week was hot on the east coat for a number of reasons.  Yes, the mercury was off the charts, but things also were “hot” at the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC.  There were hot topics from some leading authorities on issues affecting women in the law.  You can imagine my excitement to discover that all of the topics discussed are included in my book, Best Friends at the Bar:  What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law, and are expanded on in my new book, which will be released in 2012.

However, my books have twists that go beyond just reframing the issues. I actually propose some solutions! Novel, indeed! Stay tuned for more on the second book. It addresses the New Woman Lawyer—Gen Y.  They are not their mothers’ lawyers!  Not by a long shot, and we should be happy about that.  What is that definition of insanity:  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?  We need a different approach and a different result.

The conference focused on implicit bias and had some interesting perspective from Jerry Kang, Professor of Law and Asian American Studies, UCLA Law.  I was particularly interested in his comments, and those of fellow panelists, about the implicit bias that some senior woman lawyers have against some younger women lawyers.  This can be based on appearance, dress, demeanor or just because the young women have a different approach to practicing law and living their lives at the same time.  These biases exist even when the young woman lawyer is doing an excellent job and meeting all of the deadlines.  This is not exactly Women Helping Women, a theme I stress in both my book and the new manuscript.  I really hope that one day soon we will become enlightened and able to stop talking about this over and over.

Too often the senior women lawyers show bias toward their young, dynamic women colleagues with attitudes that are shocking.  The senior women seem to be saying, “We worked for you to have these opportunities, but we do not want you to take advantage of it.”  One of the panelists pointed out the irony that the Baby Boomer women lawyers have raised their daughters to be powerful and independent women, and many of their daughters now are lawyers.  However, no matter how much those senior women support their own daughters, they cannot tolerate other similar young women in the workplace.  It reminds me of what I tell young women about having children.  Yes, you may not think that you like little kids–in fact they may annoy the heck out of you– but that does not mean that you should not have some of your own.  It is ALL different when they’re yours.  You cannot get enough of them!

You will be happy to know that I spoke up for you.  I suggested to the group that young women lawyers are deaf to our haughty conversations about how it was “in the day” and are offended by the wagging of fingers while hearing that we can tell them “a thing or two.”  Yes, we have a lot to share that will help you, but we need to find voices that will appeal to you and that you will listen to.  Those voices cannot be judgmental.  Those voice scannot be condescending, and those voices cannot be preachy.  Those voices must be authentic.  Those voices must be sincerely caring, and those voices must be helpful.  You young women know the difference, and you have a right to more.

Young women lawyers today are expanding the model and redefining who they are.  They are NOT willing to hinge their success on being “men in skirts”.  Rather, they believe that there is a wider range of behavior attributes that can be defined as professional.  They are young women modeling success while pushing the limits to fit their own generation and lifestyle.  However, they too often are met with resistance from the very women who should be cheering them on.

You know that I am your biggest cheerleader, as long as you use your femininity appropriately,  always act professionally,  and be the best lawyers you can be.  I think that there are actually many more senior women lawyers just like me.  They just need to take the time to think it through!

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More Women Law Deans is Good News for Women Lawyers

There is good news for women in academia.  The National Law Journal reported in its May 26, 2011 edition that women account for about 40% of the deans named to law schools in the recent months.  According to Ann Bartow, a professor at Pace Law School and an administrator of the Feminist Law Professors blog, some law schools in the 1990’s had no women on their faculties at all.  So, twenty years later, we have come a long way, baby!

The importance of this development is in the message that it sends not only at law schools but in the legal community at large.  It is clear from these numbers that women have as much a place in the legal world as men and that they finally are being recognized for their proper roles in teaching and influencing both women and men, alike, to be good lawyers.  Women on the faculties of law schools should increase the sensitivity to women’s practice issues at those institutions, and we can hope that will carry over to an increase in women’s programs and issues forums.  But, “hope” is the operative word, and here is why.


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Young Women Lawyers and Peep-Toe Pumps

I am feeling a bit frivolous today, so I think I will get on the bandwagon and discuss Peep-Toe Pumps.  What is the issue you wonder—-about Peep-Toe Pumps?  To ask that is to acknowledge that you skipped the summer of 2010 when law bloggers, including Viva Chen of The Careerist and David Lat of Above the Law, took shots at deciding whether Peep-Toe Pumps were appropriate for the office.  In the end, all seemed to agree that this particular foot gear was appropriate, although, by the time that consensus was reached, it is questionable whether anyone cared.


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Learn to Play Golf FORE Business and Pleasure

I am a golfer, and I like to play golf.  It is an enjoyable, but sometimes frustrating, sport, and it is nice to play with friends.  However, the benefits of golf go far beyond personal life and have long fingers into business development.

The benefits of golf in business were illustrated at some length in the Washington Post today in an article titled, “Leader of the Tee World.”  This was not about some guy who owns a T-shirt shop.  It was, however, about some guy—specifically a young lawyer/lobbyist in DC named Tony Russo—who has perfected his golf game to the point where presidents and vice presidents—of the United States, that is—like to shoot a round with him.

The recent buzz about Tony Russo is because the US Open Golf Tournament is being played at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland this week.  That is right in my backyard, so I take particular notice.  Well, it is not exactly “right in my backyard” technically because I live on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, but it is close enough. “Right in my backyard—or front yard, as it is” would more accurately refer to the residents of homes surrounding the golf course who are renting out parking spaces in their front yards for early-bird tourney watchers.  But, not all for profit, you understand.  In fact, one goundskeeper told the press that his boss, the doctor/homeowner, was only charging money for parking on his lawn so that he could donate the money to charity.  Sure!  And we wonder what is wrong with health care in this country.  But….I digress……


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Thought For the Day

Do not live beyond your needs.  You want to have choices!

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Retention and Succession at Law Firms

Last week I was in NYC attending a Women Legal Conference presented by Ark Group. It is the second of the Women Legal conferences that I have attended, and I always am pleased with the interesting information shared by presenters and participants.  Here are some of the things discussed that I think will interest you.



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A Good Week For Women

I hope that you have been watching what is going on at the NY TImes.  This week the Times announced that Jill Abramson will become the first executive editor of that venerable newspaper in its 160 year history.  Abramson, a former managing editor and head of the Washington Times bureau, was no shoe-in, however.  She said last week that her elevation to the top job “says if you set your mind to something and if you have the experience and the talent, you can get there.  And you can have a family.  I have two kids and a dog.”

The new managing editor who will replace Abramson in her old job, Dean Baquet, said it well.


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Young Women Lawyers–What Will Your Legacy Be?

I know.  You are wondering if I have gone off the deep end asking young women about their legacies.  Well, perhaps I have, but for good reason.  This week I attended a memorial service for a professional colleague, who suffered a stroke while she was doing the thing that she loved most.  She was a conservationist, and she was passionate about preserving our natural resources and saving our planet.  She literally had just finished presenting remarks on important policy in her field when she collapsed.  So many people have remarked that, as tragic as the situation is, it is comforting to know that she died doing what she loved.

I remember my Dad saying that, if he had to go, he wanted it to be on the ski slope.  He was passionate about skiing, and I think that would have been a better ending than Alzheimers Disease.  I also remember that my grandfather’s last words just before he died were about golf.  He was an avid golfer, and it was comforting to know that he was thinking about his passion in his last moments.  Those must have been happy thoughts.

How does this relate to you who are so young?  Read on. CONTINUE READING >

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