It is the time for resolutions and new opportunities. I hope that all of my readers will take advantage of this time to reflect and consider the possibilities for the future.
As for me, I have made the oh-so-predictable commitment to an improved exercise program and the not-so-predictable dedication to a new book that has been in my head for a while. This new book is an expansion of some of the themes of the last book with a special emphasis on what young women lawyers really need to survive in their professions and recommendations for employers to improve retention figures. It is my way of continuing to try to help so many of you who I know do not have enough time in your busy days as young lawyers and law students to help yourselves with these important issues. It is my pleasure to do this, and I hope that my work can continue to make a difference. You are buying my books and reading my books, and you motivate me. Thanks for the support.
What would I like to see as resolutions from the rest of you? Well, that is pretty personal, but let me be a bit greedy for a minute. For the future women lawyers and those in their first years of practice, I would like to see you all commit to taking your future career planning and career choices seriously and to make the best plans and choices that you can—consistent with the recommendations of my book. It is very important to your futures, and it is particularly critical in this economic environment. To the extent possible, you want to get it as right as you can the first time around. Yes, you can transition, and I am going to try to help you more with that in Book 2, but getting it right the first time is certainly preferable. The truth is that you just do not have the same latitude that was enjoyed by young women in my generation of women lawyers. So many of us, me included, were able to take years off from practice to respond to the needs of their families. We had to adjust the family budget and make sacrifices, but most of us were able to make it without liquidating or ending up in bankruptcy court. Today, however, it often takes two significant incomes to purchase a starter house, and student loan amounts are far in excess of those “in the day.” So, it is more important than ever to figure out a way to satisfactorily address your personal definition of success and the work-life struggle to make it possible for you to remain in your career in one way or another.
As for the law employers, I would love to see them commit to addressing the low retention rates for women in the law and dedicating resources to help solve the problem. I am beginning to see more law firms request my speaking and consulting services, and I am very encouraged by that. I spoke at two Chicago law firms in December, and I was very impressed when the managing partners were not only enthusiastic about the program but also participated in it. This is movement in the right direction, and I hope that more law firm managers will make this a part of their new years resolutions.
So, again, Happy New Year and may you all prosper in 2011.