By Susan Smith Blakely • March 19, 2015•Careers, Other Career Issues
Green is the color of the day. St. Patrick's Day is traditionally all about green --- green clothes, green hats, green shamrocks, green leprechauns and green beer. I am all for that, and I hope that you are having fun today. We have an Irish Pub in my town, and I celebrated early with a Reuben and a Guinness.
So today is a particularly good day to talk about getting the "green" out of law practice for women. Here's what I mean.
Green is the color of envy. You know, "green with envy." Not something you want to be. There are still a lot of senior women lawyers who are a little envious of the opportunities that young women lawyers enjoy today, which were not available when the senior lawyers were starting out in practice and also raising families. Think maternity leave, flexible time, part-time partnership, and telecommuting, for starters. This envy can cause the senior women to be reluctant to reach down helping hands to the younger generations of women lawyers, and this will not accomplish our goals. If we are going to rise, we all will rise together. So, I say to these senior women, "Get The Green Out!"
Green also is how we refer to young lawyers, who have so much to learn. As in "green behind the ears" --- wherever that description comes from. No matter its origin, it clearly means lacking in experience and skills. Don't be green for long. Learn all that you can as quickly as you can. Ask questions, reach beyond your comfort zone in volunteering for new projects and develop multiple areas of expertise. Be hungry --- sort of like the victims of the potato famine in Ireland, who flocked to America in the eighteen century for food and opportunity. You should take every opportunity to learn new things and put them to work in establishing your value. Once you have created value in a law firm or law organization, you will have bargaining chips for the time when you need flexibility. As you know, retaining talent and value is important to employers. So, I say to the junior women, "Do Not Be Green For Long!"
Now, back to the Guinness and the Irish songs. Have fun! Dance an Irish Jig for me --- or rather for the Irish Blakelys. (The Smiths are Scotch-English, and no one wants to hear about that today!)
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, 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. 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 www.bestfriendsatthebar.com.