Susan Smith Blakely

The New Heidi Chronicles Revisits “Having It All”

Wendy Wasserstein's Pulitzer prize-winning Heidi Chronicles has been revived on Broadway.  This is an opportunity for young women lawyers to view the "having it all" issue in an entertaining setting.  Even if you do not think that "having it all" is a light and entertaining subject matter, I am sure that you will experience a few laughs.  That would be good.  Taking ourselves too seriously is not a successful approach.  Looking at challenges from a variety of perspectives brings better results.  Here is your opportunity to do just that if you are in the NYC area or visiting there soon.

"Having it all" is close to becoming a hackneyed phrase.  It is often misunderstood for very good reasons.  It is personal.  What results in "having it all" for one woman who is balancing home and family responsibilities with professional aspirations may not result in "having it all" for another woman.  That is why I emphasize "personal definitions of success" in my work at Best Friends at the Bar.  It is the only thing that makes sense to me and provides the flexibility and hope for women in varieties of circumstances to experience success and satisfying careers.

When Anne Marie Slaughter wrote about the impossibility of having it all in her essay "Why Women Still Cannot Have it All" for The Atlantic magazine in the summer of 2012, she did not speak for me.  Her definitions were too rigid.  Her resentment leaped off the page.  This is not the way I approach the subject.  I prefer to look at individual circumstances and to emphasize informed personal choices. We all make them, and we must respect them if we expect others to respect them also.

What is "all" for one woman is not "all" for another.  Practically speaking, you can have some of it all of the time, all of it some of the time, but it is the rare woman lawyer who can have all of it all of the time.  Every woman must find her own personal comfort on this spectrum.  Yes, she should have help from her family and her employers, but, it all starts with her.

So, get yourself to a theater to see the Heidi Chronicles.  It has been described as "bright humor, reflective intelligence, and revitalizing warmth.”  Take your girlfriends and create conversation for weeks and months to come.  You will recognize the new Heidi, played by Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men, where she played Peggy, a young woman who shows her mojo in an atypical way during the 1960's ad industry boyfest on Madison Avenue.  Watching her face off against Don Draper and the other boys is always a high for me.  She co-stars with actors from productions you also might have enjoyed, and the combination promises to be memorable.

Here's a link to the Heidi Chronicles production schedule.  See you there!

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 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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