KendraBeckwith

Through the Looking Glass—Observations from Five Years Out: Confidence

As a young female attorney, both confidence and authenticity are essential to survival. Early in my career I struggled with both—and even do now—until I figured out that without the latter, you simply cannot find the former. As a young lawyer, I found confidence elusive. I was constantly worried I made a wrong decision, said something inaccurate or foolish to a partner, or looked ridiculous to opposing counsel. I would make a decision, act on that decision, and spend the next week second-guessing myself. I consistently looked to external sources—colleagues, friends, superiors—to affirm my confidence. It was a never-ending cycle.…

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KendraBeckwith

Through the Looking Glass—Observations from Five Years Out: Inundated, Part II

I recently wrote about the joys and challenges of success. Those thoughts on managing “inundation” gave rise to the following dialogue about the specific challenges dual-lawyer households face. Any lawyer who is also a spouse, partner, or parent knows that her success is not hers alone. My husband, Mark, is a public defender in a high-volume, demanding environment. To say ours is a genuine partnership probably understates the role he plays in caring for our son, maintaining the day-to-day operation of our household, and tending to our marriage. Given the demands of my trial and appellate practice, I could not…

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KendraBeckwith

Through the Looking Glass—Observations from Five Years Out: Inundated

Achieving success is the goal of our professional lives, right?  We love the success, but we need to be prepared for the growing pains that come with it. If left untreated, those growing pains can sour the sweetness of success. I originally intended this monthly column to reflect on 12 qualities I observe in successful female attorneys. “Inundated” is not one of them. But as my practice and my life progress, it has become obvious that managing the flood of demands that comes with professional and personal success is a skill that must be mastered. When I graduated from law…

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KendraBeckwith

Through the Looking Glass—Observations from Five Years Out: Leadership

The pressure of being the first to do something different or new creates high expectations on the person going “first.” Whether intentional or not, the first person to succeed often becomes a leader. For me, successfully embracing a new leadership role depended on finding inspiration in the achievements of another leader, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Monica Márquez. Making “It” Work In September 2011, my husband and I learned we were pregnant. I was elated, yet anxious. I was then a third-year associate and had seen many women leave private practice because they could not make “it” work. I wanted to…

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KendraBeckwith

Through the Looking Glass—Observations from Five Years Out: Patience

In an era when we are told to lean in, I found value in leaning back. Early in my first year of practice, my impatience for success hindered my ability to actually succeed. Rather than assess what really stood between me and my goals, I transformed one negative experience into an excuse for everything. It was not until I slowed down, leaned back, and took a breath that I was able to see the forest for the trees.  It is a tough time to be a professional woman. Sheryl Sandberg advises us to Lean In.  Lois Frankel tells us Nice…

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KendraBeckwith

Through the Looking Glass—Observations from Five Years Out: Tenacity

Thirty-six hours before I was supposed to start my first “real” legal job, I got a phone call. The firm could no longer afford to hire me. Suddenly, I was jobless. And $120,000 in debt. The crash of 2008 was tough for all job seekers. As one of many with a law degree and a big loan to repay, the recession taught me a very important lesson: to survive as a lawyer, you have to be tenacious—and persistent, and stubborn—in advocating for yourself. Had I not held firm to this value, I would not be where I am today. THE…

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KendraBeckwith

Through the Looking Glass—Observations from Five Years Out: Guidance

With freshly printed law degree in hand, I thought a mentor would be the source of all things good in my career—someone who would provide me both counsel and opportunity.  I was mistaken. We women attorneys are routinely told that guidance is the key to our success in the legal profession.  We’re told to seek out mentors, or better yet, sponsors, since mentors and sponsors are not one and the same.  Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor, describes a mentor as a “sounding board or shoulder to cry on” who offers advice, support, and guidance…

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