Susan Smith Blakely

More Feedback for Young Women Lawyers

This is a topic that I address whenever I speak on effective leadership for young women lawyers.  However, the need for valuable feedback to young lawyers about the quality of their work is not gender specific.  They all need it, and most of them do not get enough of it. Not giving good feedback to junior lawyers is a real failing of senior lawyers, and it lowers the level of effective leadership in law firms.  Relying on annual reviews as the only way to address issues of work product, professional behavior and related issues is not serving the young lawyers…

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Susan Smith Blakely

A Strong Message about Leadership for Women Lawyers

Today I write to you about effective leadership, recognizing that yesterday effective leadership intersected with politics in the American experience.  However, there should be nothing of partisan politics in seeing that experience for what it was:  Killing the messenger. When I speak to audiences of attorneys and law students about effective leadership, as addressed in my book, Best Friends at the Bar:  Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, one of the concepts that I stress is taking responsibility for your own actions and not killing the messenger.  It is a fundamental theme of effective leadership, as recognized by the most well-respected global…

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Susan Smith Blakely

A Primer for Lawyer/Moms: Just Out and a Must Have

I first met Lori Mihalich-Levin soon after her first baby was born and when she was in the overwhelmed-by-baby-and-the-thought-of-returning-to-work stage.   Our lunches were enjoyable but a bit somber.  She was struggling, and I wanted to help her. Lori and I had been connected by a mutual friend at Georgetown Law.  Although there were many years between my years at the law school and Lori's, we had a lot in common.  Returning to law practice after not just one, but two, babies had been difficult for me, and now that was happening to Lori.  It is hard to know what…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Solutions for the Low Retention Rates for Law Firm Associates

The subject of the low retention rates for women lawyers, as published recently on Law.com, was addressed in last week's blog.  What?  You did not read the last blog?   Shame, shame.  I write them so that you will read them and have a "leg up" in making career decisions.  Fortunately, former blogs are so easy to find on my web site.  But to help you out, here is the link to that blog.  I understand how busy you are. The solutions offered by the Law.com article focus on the needs to run law firms more like traditional businesses to eliminate…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Why Women Lawyers Leave Firms:  Astonishing New Statistics

Why do women lawyers leave? I have been pondering, speaking about and writing about this issue for a decade.  It is fundamental that, before we can try to fix our profession with solutions like lateral hiring, mergers and expanding into new markets, we must delve deep into the roots of the attrition problems. For years it was hard to get law firm management to talk about the high rates of attrition for women lawyers.  For many of those years, new law graduates were plentiful, and it was a buyers' market.  That all changed with the Great Recession and the fall…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Investment Advice for Young Women Lawyers

Investment advisor!  The title alone makes most of us shutter, and typically the individual advisor evokes a similar response.  Not that they are bad people, but it is often a bad subject for us.  So, the advisor gets associated with the advice.  And, when the news is bad, it can be very bad.  Something and someone you do not want to think about. As women, we sometimes shy away from this kind of "boring" financial dialogue on subjects like saving, prioritizing and budgeting.  After all, we like to keep things moving and exciting ...... not get bogged down so that…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers:  Get the Raise You Want!

Last week I wrote about why women should not have to ask --- for raises and other things they want in their professional lives --- any more than men have to ask.   But, as we saw, the truth is that women do have to ask, and they need to know how to ask smartly and effectively. For some of the best advice on this subject, I always look to Sallie Krawchek, one of the most accomplished women on and off Wall Street and one of the best mentors for women professionals.  She recently posted some salary negotiations advice on…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Why Should Women Lawyers Have to Ask?

Two things converged for me in the last week, as they rarely do.  For starters, I have been writing a speech on women lawyers as effective negotiators for a conference of health care lawyers later this month.  In that speech, which focuses on the fact that women lawyers can be very effective negotiators on behalf of others but are not so effective in negotiations for themselves, I discuss some of the profound reasons for this disparity, which are cemented in cultural, societal and gender-based learned behaviors.  I have developed this particular presentation as part of the Best Friends at the…

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Susan Smith Blakely

True Grit for Women Lawyers

I started talking about the importance of “True Grit” for women lawyers as long ago as 2012 when my second book came out.  In Best Friends at the Bar:  The New Balance for Today’s Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business), I included a chapter titled “You Really Need True Grit,” and in 2014 I wrote more on the subject in a blog addressing the value of true grit for women lawyers. So, you can imagine how happy I was to see that the ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession is taking grit very seriously as well.  According to a recent article in the ABA Journal,…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Leadership 101 For Women Lawyers

We all are -- or we should be – thinking a lot about leadership these days. This is an important week as we witness the peaceful transfer of power from one national leader to another here in the United States of America. It is what distinguishes our democracy, and it should not be missed, even if your candidate is not being sworn in. I will be doing my part for the inauguration by participating in a leadership program that, every four years, brings college students to DC to witness the inauguration and hear from leaders in a variety of career…

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