A Career Planning Primer

Estate planning.  Retirement planning.  Trip planning.  Family planning.  Business planning.  Anything worth doing is worth planning.  Rarely is anything accomplished overnight.  In fact, I don't think there's such a thing as overnight success.  Behind the hit song, hit movie, or ascension to CEO (or fill-in-the-blank top of your chosen field), came a lot of hard work, sacrifice and dedication.  Success in your profession doesn't happen on its own either.  A little bit of deliberation can help get you where you want to go in a more organized fashion and help keep your eye on the prize when you're feeling disoriented…

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How to Improve Your Professional Image in a Consultation

Everything starts with a consultation. This is your chance to make a strong first impression with your prospective client, and your opportunity to review their case to see if it’s worth taking on. If you have several years of experience to draw on, this probably comes second-nature to you, and you can almost evaluate the potential case on autopilot. But if you’re new to the game, every consultation is a big deal, because every client matters, and your reputation is still being formed. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to improve your image during every consultation. Do Your…

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Try It Before You Buy It: Four Ways to “Try Out” a New Career

Lawyers are notoriously risk averse. This generalization makes them good at what they do. It also makes them bad at getting out.  When I speak to transitioning lawyers, I hear some of the same fears echoed back time and time again.  How can I leave without knowing for sure? What if I leave and I'm still unhappy? What else could I possibly do? I always start these conversations as I will here: with four ways to "try it before you buy it."  1) Join a Board.  Local non-profits, civic foundations, and even schools are often looking for new Board members.…

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Starting from the Bottom Up to Create a Killer Personal Brand

A digital presence is a must for every law firm, and there’s both professional and personal branding. When a founder is the face of a company, they’ll have to start creating a personal brand that potential clients will know and trust. Branding is one of the most powerful tools in marketing, and it all starts with reputation.  Supervisors often sit new or aspiring lawyers down to express how important reputation is in the law field. Building a good reputation is the start of personal branding, so you might need to help others, work extra hours. The goal is to create…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Perfect Pitch for Young Women Lawyers

Are you musical?  Have you had experience singing in a choir?  If so, you probably are familiar with the concept of “perfect pitch.”   For the rest of you, perfect pitch is the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone.  Perfect pitch results in great vocalists, who can land a note on the musical scale exactly and in a way that is pleasing to the ear, leaving the listener with the desire to hear more. Oddly, perfect pitch works the same in business — and especially for lawyers.  Delivering the perfect…

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Ms. CyberLaw: Three Ways to Build Mentorship Through Emails

When we are first exploring law schools, trying to get a sense of specializations in law, or just aiming to draw inspiration from those who have achieved success in the legal field, we can overlook a valuable resource right under our noses: connectivity through email. Emailing a stranger can be intimidating, but what's there to lose in putting yourself out there and potentially gaining a valuable mentorship experience? So, here are three ways to maximize your chances of connecting with others in meaningful ways through email exchanges. Do your homework: When first reaching out to someone, skip the types of questions you…

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Statistically Weeping: Having the Harder Conversations

Written experiences of depression and anxiety in law school are arguably few and far between. For me, that means being given a space and a platform from which to recount my own story is very important. As I’ve said before, once I began asking, so many smart, strong and successful people came forward to share with me their stories of mental illness. These stories made it easier to tell myself every day that I wasn’t alone. And over time, knowing that made it easier to let other people in. It gave me the confidence to be a little more honest.…

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Susan Smith Blakely

What Do RBG and Millennial Lawyers Have in Common?

RBG.  You have to love her!  And I do.  I loved the documentary about her life, and I love how relevant she continues to be. I first saw Justice Ginsburg speak more than a decade ago when she was addressing an audience of law students and young lawyers.  Yes, her scholarship and her role as a breaker of glass ceilings amazed me, but it did not stop there.  Her sense of humor and her humble way of speaking was surprising for someone at her high perch, and it was heartwarming.  She knows how to get attention without hitting the listener…

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Etiquette for Conference Calls and Virtual Meetings

Of all the changes brought by technology in our offices, the most significant to me is virtual meetings.  We think nothing of scheduling an interview by phone or video conference these days and Skype, Facetime and Go to Meeting allows us to do so conveniently from our laptops or phones.  My company has offices across the country and I report to people in different cities and time zones.  It’s crazy, really, how easy and seamless it is to share documents and desktops from pretty much anywhere, anytime.  Naturally, etiquette rules for these new practices help us build relationships and conduct…

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Dress the Part: How to Present Yourself as a Professional Lawyer

We have all prepared for an important job interview or meeting and one thing that we all go over is how to look good to make a great first impression. Studies have found that part of someone's first impression of you is not only based on how you hold yourself but also how you dress and the kind of shoes you're wearing. Can you imagine how much is based on the more noticeable articles of clothing and accessories you wear? Some hate to admit it, but how you present yourself in and around the courtroom matters. People want to be…

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