Susan Smith Blakely

A Great Event for Women Lawyers

Last week I attended a great event for women lawyers at Polsinelli.  My husband and daughter both are members of the firm, and I am so proud that they were a part of this.  Well, sort of.  My daughter attended, and my husband supported.  No men allowed!

We were gathered for an intimate and candid discussion with Senator Claire McCaskill and to hear her views on women surviving and thriving as lawyers and lawmakers, as discussed in her recently released memoir, Plenty Ladylike.  She is awesome, and I wish all of you could have heard her.

Here are a couple of my favorite pearls of wisdom from this accomplished woman who was a prosecutor before she entered politics.

  • Success is not what you own.  It is doing what you love to do.
  • When harassed by her male colleagues, who had formed a group to take her down, she replied that, unlike them, being a state legislator was not the best job she ever would have.  And she was right!
  • The love of your family and friends is the best fuel for your success.  You cannot be happy at your job unless you are happy at home.

Senator McCaskill rocks as a motivational speaker.  There was so much valuable advice and perspective dispensed by Senator McCaskill in a short time, and her embracing approach, laced with a powerful sense of humor, left us yearning for more.  Every guest I spoke with was setting out to read the book.  That's where you will get the whole story, and I enthusiastically recommend that you find a copy, curl up with it, and prepare to be amazed and awed.

Like anyone who attains greatness, Claire McCaskill's was not an easy road.  But, she always kept her eye on the prize, and she has become an example of the value of perseverance and service beyond ourselves.  Like her role models, Margaret Thatcher (for the quality of her person and not her politics), Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Claire McCaskill is living large as a role model for all of us.

You do not have to embrace the Senator's politics to appreciate her words.  So, get the book, read about a life well lived, and take whatever tidbits resonate with you and apply them to your own careers and lives.  It will be time well spent!

Thank you, Polsinelli, for your hospitality and purpose in presenting this opportunity to women lawyers.  It is a clear sign that you value women lawyers, and, for that, we value you!


Susan Smith Blakely is the Founder of LegalPerspectives LLC and an award-winning, nationally-recognized author, speaker and consultant on issues related to young women lawyers, young women law students and young women interested in careers in the law.  She is author of Best Friends at the Bar:  What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2009), and Best Friends at the Bar:  The New Balance for Today's Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2012), which addresses the work-life struggle for women lawyers and includes twelve profiles of women who have successfully transitioned from one practice setting to another.  Her new book, Best Friends at the Bar:  Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, focuses on the responsibilities of law firm leaders and was released by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business in 2015.

Ms. Blakely frequently speaks at colleges and universities, law schools, law firms and law organizations, and she has been featured in media including the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, DC Spotlight, Daily Muse and Huffington Post Business.  Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues and the law profession, and she has been a featured speaker at the US Department of Justice, Civil Division.  She is the recipient of the Ms. JD 2015 "Sharing Her Passion Award" for her work on behalf of women in the law.

Ms. Blakely graduated from the University of Wisconsin with distinction and from Georgetown University Law Center where she was a teaching fellow. She is a member of the CoachSource global network of leadership coaches and a career coach for the Indiana University Marshall Goldsmith Leadership Development and Executive Coaching Academy.   For more information, please visit 

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