By jessie kornberg • November 22, 2010•Ms. JD, Ms. JD Book Reviews
Out this month from the British ARK Group is a new book by the Bowditch Institute' Lauren Stiller Rikleen, Success Strategies for Women Lawyers. Ms. Rikleen is also the author of Ending the Gauntlet: Removing Barriers to Success in Law, and she has been interviewed for this site and spoken at Ms. JD's Chicago conference.
The tone of the book is more self-help than treatise, which is great. It's an easy, entertaining read, with personal anecdotes from lawyers peppering each chapter. The advice is on soft skills, like branding, networking, mentoring, and self-promotion. Balance is addressed, but not as the main attraction and the focus of the conversation is on flexibility as opposed to sacrifice - an important distinction.
What separates this from alot of comparable work is that the views reflect a global perspective with contributions from lawyers in the Americas, Europe and Asia. This would be a great read on the flight home for Christmas break. It's inspiring, motivating, and digestible. Highlights include:
- The case for why new lawyers MUST develop a specialty/area of expertise and the case for why this development must begin with passion for the subject area in question
- How to use community service or "extra-curricular activities" to develop leadership skills and experience
- How to identify administrative tasks with networking opportunities: Quoting NYC attorney Jennifer Klausner, "“At a strategic point in my career, I took it upon myself to offer to do certain firm related tasks that would help me develop a relationship with in-house counsel at key clients. Specifically, I agreed to prepare and regularly update a summary of active litigation of the firms’ biggest clients. This project was useful to the clients as well as key management in the firm, and it opened the door for me to have regular communication with both clients and firm management."
- Why mentors need not be role models: Quoting Barbara Dawson, "“Because I’ve found that mentors come in all types of unusual packaging, I would discourage young women from thinking that the best mentor would necessarily be a woman whose own life would serve as a good model. For example, the person who gave me the most valuable experience early in my career was a man who was known for his colorful character and salty language (as well as his legal brilliance)."
- Why, as important as champions are, you must be able to advocate for yourself as well: Quoting Heidi Goldstein, "If you do not ask for it, it will not happen. There are too many lawyers around who feel that if they are doing a good job, bringing in business, billing hours, etc., that management will recognize them, pay them more or promote them. I think we have to remember that management is often overloaded and that we can get lost in the midst of other pressing issues. In my 16 years, no one has come to me and said, ‘Man! Heidi, you are working too hard – you need to work less and we need to pay you more!’ Thus, it is essential to regularly think about how to keep management informed of your successes."
- Finally, on the importance of setting clear goals: "In 1979 the graduates of the MBA program at Harvard were asked, have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them? It turned out that only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans. Thirteen percent had goals, but they were not in writing, and fully 84 percent had no specific goals at all, aside from getting out of school and enjoying the summer. Then years later, in 1989, the researchers interviewed the members of that class again. They found that the 13 percent who had goals that were not in writing were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent of students who had no goals at all. But most surprisingly, they found that the three percent of graduates who had clear, written goals when they left Harvard were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent of graduates all together."