Susan Smith Blakely

Have Women Lawyers Lost Something on Their Way to Becoming Leaders?

This article from The Atlantic caught my eye on my news feed earlier this week.  It addresses what the writer thinks women have lost in advancing their opportunities in the workplace.  It is a historical perspective, but the message is meant to be very au courant. Although I have my own thoughts on the downside for women as we struggled to take our places at the tables of power in law and business and some of the messages that worked against the causes we were trying to advance, I have not given much thought to the kind of loss that…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers In America:  For Those Who Have Lost Perspective

Greetings!  I am back from my August hiatus, all refreshed from the crisp and clear Maine and Wisconsin air and ready to tackle again the issues affecting women lawyers.  And, there are so many! To get the Fall started off right, let's check our perspectives.  There is so much to be accomplished by women and for women in America, but there also is so much to celebrate.  Maybe it is my mindset as I reflected on Labor Day and how women fit into the workforce here.  Although, as women lawyers, we do not have all that we want and equity…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers:  Welcome to the Practice!

So many new law graduates started jobs in law firms within the last few weeks, and many of them are young women.  They are enthusiastic and energetic, but they know little about the jobs they are being asked to do.  Law school teaches a lot of substance, but most law schools are still very short on practical application and hands-on experience.  This can lead to a lot of insecurity within the throes of new lawyers who walked into the hallowed halls of law firms in the last few weeks. That is to be expected.  If you are one of them,…

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Susan Smith Blakely

New Approaches to the Practice of Law

At about the same time that my recent article addressing needed changes in law firm cultures was being published by Corporate Counsel, the Women in Law Hackathon was being held at Stanford Law to address better compensation models for law firms.  Some of my friends were involved in the Hackathon, and, indeed, it is the brainchild of Caren Ulrich Stacey, the founder of the OnRamp Fellowship.  It seems that we all are wondering how to improve what have come to be toxic law firms cultures and create better-functioning and more diverse BigLaw atmospheres, beginning with new compensation models.  Read all…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Are Women Lawyers Held to Higher Ethical Standards Than Their Male Colleagues?

I love listening to NPR while I am driving in my car.  Fortunately, or unfortunately as it may be, I live in the Washington, DC area where traffic is worse than most places in the country.  As a result, I spend a lot of time in my car in traffic.  The silver lining is that it gives me a lot of time with NPR. Recently, while listening to All Things Considered, I heard about a study examining unconscious and subtle biases within the context of whether men or women are more ethical at work.  In examining which group, men or…

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Susan Smith Blakely

ACI Conference for Women Lawyers in the Life Science Practice Space

I am so pleased to be a part of a conference that will convene in Boston on July 28 and 29, 2016 to address the issues of leadership and advancement for women lawyers in life science law.  I will be moderating a panel titled "Tales from the Top on Effective Leadership:  Concrete Tips for Influencing and Motivating Others in the Life Sciences Legal Space."  My fellow panelists are leading in-house C-Suite and General Counsel Office lawyers from major life sciences corporations, and we also are joined by a partner and head of life sciences litigation at a top tier international…

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Susan Smith Blakely

More on What Women Lawyers Should Expect from Partnership

In my last blog, I shared a Law360 article with you on what to expect from partnership.  The author detailed the following five important mistakes that associates make when entering the partnership: Expecting Your Workload to Stay the Same; Becoming Dispensable; Neglecting Yourself; Ignoring Your Finances; and Failing to Act Like an Owner. Here are my own thoughts on some of those subjects. Expecting Your Workload to Stay the Same:  If the world of associates is all about burning the midnight oil on briefs and deposition preparation, the world of partners is all about some of that plus developing new…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Making Partner is Just the Beginning

If you are in private practice, the goal very often is getting to the partnership table.  You work hard at your job, and you want this affirmation and the benefits that come with it, like higher salary, which can translate to a bigger house, a nicer car, better vacations, and preferred schools for your kids. That is understandable.  Practicing law is no walk in the park much of the time, and you have your eye on the pay-off for all that hard work you have done as an associate.  You feel like you will see that pay-off once you are…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Everything Women Lawyers NEVER Wanted to Know about Gender Bias

Sometimes you just have to learn what you would rather not know.  Here is a case in point. Gender bias is a terrible and destructive thing.  We all seem to understand express and intentional bias, and there are laws to protect us against it in the workplace.  That is the easiest kind of bias to spot.  It is obvious when someone tells you that you cannot have the case because you are a woman or when someone targets you with a gender slur.  However, it is more complicated with implicit gender bias, which can be subtle and unintentional but also…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Balance or Not?  What Women Lawyers Need to Know

  Work-life balance is not easy.  Yes, I wrote an entire book about it, but that does not mean that I think it is anything but difficult and challenging.  I acknowledge that in the Prologue to Best Friends at the Bar:  The New Balance for Today's Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers, 2012), where I propose a new balance that puts more emphasis on self.  After all, if you do not take care of yourself, you will burn out early in your attempts to take care of others. Case in point is an interview with a former CFO…

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