Best Friends at the Bar: Say Happy Valentine's Day With Community Service
Happy Valentine's Day to all the Lady Lawyers!
I love Valentine's Day, and I have spent half the morning sending messages of love and affection to all the special people in my life. So, here is yours! Women lawyers are very special to me, as you know, and I would not forget you on such an important occasion.
Sending love and affection can take many different forms. It does not have to be a Valentine's Day message. In fact, I was reminded just recently of how lawyers send messages of caring through community service, and I want to pass that on to you.
I am preparing to go to Holy Cross College to speak to the pre-law students next week. The subject is similar to "The Law School Decision," a paper I wrote recently for the University of Michigan pre-law program. As I address that subject, I talk about what is required for a satisfying and successful career in the law.
For me, one of the components of a satisfying and successful law career is service to community. I grew up with a wonderful role model for that in my father, and I take it very seriously.
The job of being a lawyer is essentially about researching and applying legal precedent, drafting documents, negotiating deals, writing briefs and trying cases---in many different types of practices. That is the job. But, being a lawyer is more than a job. It is a profession, and lawyers need to act like professionals. That includes being fair and compassionate and using their talents to reach out to those in need.
There are many ways of doing community service, and it is possible in many different settings. Unlike my Dad, my husband and I are city lawyers. We have both served on community boards, and I have helped raise millions of dollars for a Women's Center. My husband established the first Explorer Scout Law Program for intercity kids in DC, and he also has dedicated thousands of hours of pro bono work to supporting returning veterans, who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, assuring that they receive the benefits they need and deserve. I also have been a watch dog for development in my community for over 25 years on behalf of the Citizen's Association, and I have spearheaded the community beautification efforts for much of that time.
We do not do this because we want to be noticed or want to be thanked. We do this because it is the right thing to do, and we expect it of ourselves as professionals.
We are better at much of this because we are lawyers. We also become better lawyers because we do it.
So, try it out. Send a special Valentine to your community and get involved. Your community needs you, and you need your community to be the lawyer you should want to be.
Happy Valentine's Day!
This entry originally appeared on my web site blog at www.bestfriendsatthebar.com.
Susan Smith Blakely is the Founder of LegalPerspectives LLC and a nationally-recognized author, speaker and consultant on issues related to young women lawyers, young women law students and young women interested in careers in the law. She is author of Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2009), and Best Friends at the Bar: The New Balance for Today's Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2012), which addresses the work-life struggle for women lawyers and includes twelve profiles of women who have successfully transitioned from one practice setting to another. Ms. Blakely frequently speaks at colleges and universities, law schools, law firms and law organizations, and she has been featured in media including the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, DC Spotlight, Daily Muse and Huffington Post Business. Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues and the law profession.
Ms. Blakely graduated from the University of Wisconsin with distinction and from Georgetown University Law Center where she was a teaching fellow for legal research and writing. For more information, please visit www.bestfriendsatthebar.com.