Susan Smith Blakely

For All The Ambitious Women Lawyers

This week I am thinking about Davos, Switzerland.  Not because of the spectacular mountain views or the apres ski ...  but because of my professional women friends, especially you young women lawyers.

As you may know, Davos is the home of the annual World Economic Forum, and the 2015 conference is underway as I write.  Billionaires, CEOs, heads of state and others who breathe the same rarefied air have gathered to address global issues like cybersecurity, international trade, stabilizing international economies, global competitiveness and other such lofty subjects.

Why should you care?  Because they frequently talk about issues affecting women that have nothing to do with cocktails and fondue.  Yes, important subjects like whether women are ambitious enough for the business world.

That subject was addressed at the 2012 World Economic Forum when Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook executive, stated that women in the western world lack ambition and that it is holding them back.  She talked specifically about an "ambition gap" for women in business.  You can read more about her remarks in one of my earlier blogs.

Maybe you just heard my inner scream!  This is so far off the mark!  Business women in America do not lack ambition.  They lack time.  There is a "time gap" not an ambition gap.  A time gap for family caretaking, for other family support, for billing hours, for business travel, for developing new clients ... and the list goes on.  If you are one of those women, you know exactly what I mean.  And, if you are not, you may be one day, so it is worth paying attention.

Women are not magicians.  They cannot create more time.  They cannot even create the illusion of more time.  No David Copperfields here.  Just women working hard to balance in the only way that fits them personally.  And, they deserve more respect than a sound bite.

As I pointed out in the earlier blog, women are plenty ambitious in the middle of the night when they are working on the legal memo, fixing the kids' brown bag lunches for the next day, doing laundry and performing sundry other tasks that did not fit into the daylight hours.

So, let's hope that the "chit chat" in Davos produces some really helpful information for women this year.  That would be nice.

Susan Smith Blakely is the Founder of LegalPerspectives LLC and a 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, will focus on the responsibilities of law firm leaders and will be 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.

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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