Susan Smith Blakely

Leadership Lessons for Women Lawyers

  My friend, Caroline Dowd-Higgins, is an excellent career coach, motivational speaker and author of "This is Not the Career I Ordered."   Her recent blog "15 Leadership Lessons to Invigorate Your Career"  is worthy of your attention.  Caroline and I first met when she was the Career Services Dean at Indiana University Law, and I think it is no accident that her advice rings true for young lawyers. Here is her list (with a little editorial help from me!): Be Confident:  Confidence can be more important to career success than competence.   Confidence is developed by you and comes…

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A Word on the Use of Legal Jargon

Quick.  Let's play a game called "Can You Spot the Legalese?" Wherefore, in light of her cause of action sounding in negligence and for the premises heretofore considered, the plaintiff prays that this honorable court grant such relief as it may deem just, fair, and proper. Did you count at least five examples of legalese just now?  Congratulations.  You have an eye for discerning legalese, which is literally defined by the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary (see as "the language used by lawyers that is difficult for most people to understand" (aka legal jargon), and you're in a good position for…

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App Happy: Graduate School Edition

September is upon us. Many schools have officially opened their applications for the 2018-2019 law school admission cycle, and the LSAT is just around the corner. In this next App Happy post, we’re going to take a deeper look into application consideration for students with graduate school backgrounds. Note: This post is the result of a thoughtful question from reader KHAMILTON16. Thank you for reaching out! If anyone else has a pre-law question, please comment below or reach out to me directly.  Additionally, please note that I have not attended graduate school and thus am relying on other's advice. I…

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Join the Conversation:  Benefit of the Doubt

We all make mistakes.  On a recent team I managed, everybody made mistakes – from the contract document reviewers, to the eDiscovery vendor, to the associates.  Yet some people’s mistakes will become easily forgotten while others will become remembered for their mistakes.  What determines whose mistakes get forgotten and whose get remembered?  Could it be our race, ethnicity, and gender?  I will argue that in our workplace and our community, the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t depends heavily on the way that others treat or react to our mistakes.  I will argue that it is not…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Why Young Lawyers Need Mentors—- and Why the Profession is Failing Them

It is not just young women lawyers who desperately need mentoring --- it is all young lawyers.  And, the profession is failing them. Young lawyers need mentors to help guide them in their professional growth and provide opportunities to discuss their futures as lawyers.  Instead, too often, young lawyers flail around doing what they think they should be doing without knowing what it is they should be doing. And, that leads to a lot of insecurity and loneliness on the job.  The profession has evolved in such a way that an associate lawyer can spend eight to ten hours a…

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Take Two: The Journey to Retaking the Bar—Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

It’s September. Schools are starting up again this week. October is next month and in three months, 2017 is over. Where did the summer go? August seemed to disappear in a blink of an eye. It is incredible to think that I have been at my current job for almost five months when it feels much longer. Albert Einstein once said that “time is an illusion” and the dividing line between past, present and future is an illusion. Lately, time has been slipping through the fingers, not knowing what day it is, but knowing whether it is a workday or…

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Four Reasons Why Telecommuting Is Better For Women (That Have Nothing To Do With The Mommy Thing)

I’m going to throw out a bold prediction. Working from home is better for women. Especially for women in high-intensity, male-dominated professions, such as law. Here are four reasons why – none of which have anything to do with childcare flexibility. 1.That Hair-and-Makeup Thing.   This morning, I witnessed one of my closest friends (a non-lawyer who works in an executive role at a financial institution in Midtown Manhattan) spend close to an hour on hair and makeup prior to leaving for work. After rising before the sun and disappearing into the bathroom, she sat down next to me on…

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Breaking the Ice: 8 Conversation Tips for Your Next Networking Event!

Networking events can be a pain, especially if you're not comfortable in a room-full of strangers. However, networking remains crucial to attorneys in that they get to access information about jobs and current developments in their field. Networking also helps lawyers meet potential clients and peers. That being said, merely attending a networking event won't make the tide turn in anyone's favor. You have to work to make the event work for you! So if you're an introvert or simply bad at striking up a conversation and holding it, here are some tips to help you break the ice and…

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Mentality: The Secret to Thriving in the Midst of Chaos

Few industries are more stressful or mentally draining as the legal field. Whether you spend your week in an office or the courtroom, it’s easy to feel as if everything is falling apart around you. Having the right mentality will allow you to thrive in the midst of this chaos. 4 Tips for Taking Control of Your Thoughts One of the things law school doesn’t do an adequate job of preparing future attorneys for is the mental challenge that comes with working in such a fast-paced and brutal environment. While you may have entered your first job with book knowledge,…

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How to keep your cool while you wait for bar results

There are approximately 1.3 million licensed lawyers in the United States (1). Take a moment and think about the fact that, except in a diploma state, each one of them studied, sat for, and waited for their bar exam results. While this might give you comfort or increase your anxiety, I hope it will give you peace of mind that you are not the only one having gone through this experience. On a personal note, I went through the process three times and each time I had to be patient, know that I did my best, fill my time with activities I…

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