This time of year I am seeing lots of Internet activity about Law School Women in Leadership Programs. More and more law schools are initiating these programs, and they are excellent training grounds for young women law students. The focus is on leadership skills but also on the challenges that women face as leaders within the legal profession. The programs typically feature law school faculty, undergraduate faculty, alumni and other attorneys participating in lectures, small group discussions, group exercises and panel discussions.
These programs are particularly important for young women lawyers and law students. The way that women lawyers successfully handle issues in the workplace and in the legal profession, especially, can be very different from the way that male lawyers successfully handle similar issues. Whether we like it or not, the rules for men and for women in our profession continue to be different. What is acceptable behavior for a male practitioner may be viewed as very inappropriate for a female practitioner. Knowing the rules and how to use that knowledge to rise to positions of leadership is a critical component of developing female power in our profession and improving the profession for women.
Many of these programs also include the historical perspective to help young women lawyers know where they came from as well as help them figure out where they are going and how to get there. Seasoned women lawyers can add a lot to these programs with their experiences and wisdom about how to survive in practice. Women who have walked the walk and can talk the talk.
Does your law school have a leadership program for women? If it does, be sure that you attend the program. If it does not, take a leadership role in developing one. Your career counselors can help you put together a program that will set you on the course to being successful and satisfied women lawyers. It is the job of career counselors to be familiar with the leading authorities on these issues in the local area and on the national scene. Access that expertise to develop a program that will allow you to gain some of the most important skills you can from law school—the ability to function in a professional system in a way that will enhance and promote your leadership skills for the benefit of yourself, your employer and your profession.
Onward and upward. You are the mistress of your own destiny.