Drive Your Journey: A Transition to a Holistic Career Journey

I applied to be a Ms. JD Writer-in-Residence to provide tips to women law students and lawyers on how to best deal with change. I have always known that life is filled with both desired and undesired transitions. Personally, I had a significant change in my life as I lost my fiancé unexpectedly. This transition in my life led to a mindset shift as I think about my career moving forward. Even more than ever, I understand the importance of a holistic career journey, a career where “work-life” integration is emphasized more than  “work-life” balance. The need for balance implies…

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Five Questions (and Answers) for Navigating Parenthood While Working in Big Law

On Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at 12:00pm, the DC Bar will host "Big Law and Babies", a panel discussion about starting or growing a family while working in Big Law.  It will address pregnancy, parental leave, returning to work, carving out family time, and utilizing the various resources firms provide to help parents navigate careers in Big Law. Speakers Maureen Hardwick, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP Michelle Kallen, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton Garrison LLP Tracie Bryant, Kirkland & Ellis LLP Ravi Sharma, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton Garrison LLP Tom Spiggle, The Spiggle Law Firm (Moderator) The program is available in…

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Are You Looking at Your Career Through the Right Lens?

A pervasive problem in the legal field today involves young attorneys -- predominantly millennials -- who are prone to being shortsighted. If you aren’t content with where you are in your career, then it’s possible you may be part of this group. If you can correct your orientation at this point, you may enjoy a rosier future in this field. Four Ways to Invest in the Future We don’t mean this article to represent a knock on millennials, but the observation seems to be supported by considerable evidence. Many have noted that millennials tend to want everything “now.” They’ve grown…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Mentoring is Critical to Career Success for Women Lawyers

I write a lot about leadership in law firms.  In fact, my last book, Best Friends at the Bar:  Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, is all about that subject.   In that book, I address the elements of effective leadership by presenting examples of good leadership and bad leadership.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of examples of bad leadership to fill those pages. An important part of effective leadership in law firms revolves around mentorship.  Mentoring young lawyers and helping them to develop their career paths and identify and maximize on their talents is key to career success for the young…

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Ms. JD Interviews Lawyer- Turned Professor and Health and Wellness Coach

Danielle Kocal is the Director of Academic Success at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, runs a thriving health and wellness business, and is a real-life superhero mom to two young girls. However, this is not what Professor Kocal thought her career and life would look like today when she applied to law school in 2003. Back then, she was on a mission to become an environmental lawyer. But, life did what life does, and while in law school, Professor Kocal realized her true passion: teaching. It’s lucky for her students that she had this realization! Since…

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Want Career Advice? Look Within First

Most likely, we are all familiar with Robert Frost’s famous opening stanza:             “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,             And sorry I could not travel both             And be one traveler, long I stood             And looked down one as far as I could             To where it bent in the undergrowth.” And most likely, we have been confronted by analysis paralysis at one point or another in our lives. It oftentimes casts a shadow on the plethora of career advice received from various sources – fellow students, professors, seasoned attorneys, mentors who…

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Microaggressions Experienced By Women in Law School

Having just finished my first month of classes as a 1L at law school, I see now how classes, cold calls, and reading assignments can really wear people down and precipitate impostor syndrome. While we fight off self doubts, it is particularly disheartening to also have to defend ourselves from microaggressive commentary—little hints here and there that suggest people’s surprise that I am Harvard material. For example, sometimes when I said I was going to Harvard Law, my conversational partner of the moment would ask, “But did you get accepted?” In response, my internal monologue was usually something like: Ah,…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers Bullying Other Women Lawyers—- Not a Pretty Picture

If you never have been bullied in the workplace, you are lucky. If you never have been bullied in the workplace by another woman, you are very lucky. It happens much too often, and you need to make sure that you are not the bully.  That is the only way we will get this under control. I, like most women lawyers, have been bullied at one time or another.  We are minorities, and that, unfortunately, is how minorities get treated.  Many of us were "pioneers" in our fields, and, because of that, the forces were against us in an even…

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Join the Conversation:  “Locking Up Our Own”

Join the Conversation:  “Locking Up Our Own”  In a fascinating and heart-wrenching read about the struggles and political decisions within the black community that contributed to today’s mass incarceration of black people, James Forman, Jr. sets out to understand why in courtrooms full of black judges, black prosecutors, black bailiffs, and black cops are black people being punished so harshly?  Today, 2.2 million Americans are behind prison bars.  Black Americans are held in state prisons at five times the rate of white Americans.  Black men receive 10% more prison time than white men for the same offense and criminal history.  Black men are twice more likely than white…

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How Ritu Bhasin Seeks to Create an Empowered & Inclusive World

“I define authenticity as the practice of consistently choosing to know, embrace, and be who we are as often as possible.” Ritu Bhasin is a global leadership and inclusion expert. Over the years, I’ve learned more about her work and have heard her speak on numerous occasions. I’ve developed a strong appreciation for her interesting and entrepreneurial career path, thought leadership, and dynamic presence. This blog post captures a conversation I had with her several months ago. Through this post, you’ll learn more about Ritu and her forthcoming book, The Authenticity Principle, which will be released on October 5, 2017.…

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