By Susan Smith Blakely • December 10, 2020•Careers, Other Career Issues
I am always advocating for capable women, and I love doing it. That includes not just women lawyers, but also women doctors, women business owners, women sales clerks, women astronauts, and women who teach our children. Women have been overlooked for too long, and they deserve the recognition.
But right now, I am particularly enthused for the future of women lawyers. I am seeing women advanced in the judiciary in increasing numbers. I am seeing unprecedented percentages of women lawyers elevated to cabinet positions, and I am seeing women lawyers step up in leading roles in Congress.
For example, earlier this year, we witnessed women lawyers as members of the House of Representatives show incredible professionalism and poise in their various roles during the Trump impeachment trial. It does not matter what side of that issue you were on, and I don't care. If you are being fair, I know you will agree that those women took their roles seriously and carried their weight. They acted like women we all would be proud to know.
And just recently, we read about a young woman lawyer passing the bar exam under extreme circumstances. She was registered to sit for the California Bar Exam in July, but that exam was rescheduled to September for safety reasons related to the pandemic. That likely was an inconvenience for many test takers, but it was particularly problematic for this one, who, by September, was in the last weeks of her pregnancy. And, as luck would have it, on the first day of the essay exam, her water broke. But, she did not panic. After checking with her medical specialist and getting the green light, she grabbed a few towels and carried on. She finished the session and then hightailed it to the hospital with her husband to give birth to her son. And, on the day after his birth, she took the second day of the essay exam from her hospital bed, stopping only to nurse her baby between sessions. Awesome. Simply awesome.
I can't resist asking you to consider this. If a man taking the bar exam got a paper cut that was bleeding, would he have performed as well? Likely not. Chances are he would abandon the exam and run to the ER to stop the bleeding. He would be confidant that he could talk himself out of the situation and gain permission to rewrite the exam because of extenuating circumstances. Because that is too often how it often works with men.
But not for women. Women always know that it will be an up hill battle and that they had better come prepared. And they do. To read more about this story, here's the link including a video interview. Awesome. Simply awesome.
So, hat's off to the women. This is a trend I hope will continue. It is why I do the work, and it is so gratifying to experience.
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 third book in the series, 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’s new book for ALL young lawyers, What Millennial Lawyers Want: A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice, will be released by Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers in the summer of 2018.
Ms. Blakely frequently speaks at colleges and universities, law schools, law firms and law organizations, and she has been featured in media including Corporate Counsel Magazine, the ABA Journal, the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, Women Lawyers Journal (NAWL), DC Spotlight, Lawyerist.com, Daily Muse, Lawyer and Statesman, Law.com, Georgetown Law Magazine, Legal Toolkit Podcast, and Huffington Post Business. Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues in business 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" and the Lawyer Monthly “Women in Law Award 2016” 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 is certified as a career coach for the Indiana University Marshall Goldsmith Leadership Development and Executive Coaching Academy. For more information, please visit www.bestfriendsatthebar.com.