By Elizabeth Harris • September 17, 2012•Careers
When I think of strong women in the legal field, the first person that comes to mind would be my mother. At the time, she was among a very small minority of women who not only received a J.D., but also an L.L.M. in tax. She wanted both a long and successful legal career and a family life when many women left private practice after the birth of their first child. Thirty-three years later, she has a career she still loves, she is a shareholder in a firm with over 300 attorneys, and she has four children who felt their mother could not have been more involved in their lives.
I greatly admire her and I will be lucky if I have a career that is half as successful as hers. However, it has been interesting to witness her reaction to the changes in the legal field, and legal employment in particular, since her time in law school. While it is empowering that there are so many women in the field today, it is also much more difficult to make yourself stand out. Where women previously could work hard in school and perhaps pick an unusual specialty in order to guarantee employment, today it proves to be much more difficult. Of course, this is in part due to the economy and a more even playing field. However, if a graduate is looking for a job to help pay off their mountain of debt, it usually requires going above and beyond your fellow classmates, including ranking in the top echelon of your class and inventing the next cure for cancer in your spare time in order to have a shot at working at a large firm.
Something my mother has emphasized, and something more women should strive to do, is networking. Networking does not need to be on the golf course and it is not limited to men. Women don’t realize how great they can be at networking. They are natural networkers. Enjoying each other's company is a form of networking. Networking is a great tool to not only make yourself stand out and make connections but also become successful in your career, no matter what type of law you might like to pursue.
And what better place to start networking than a Women in the Law seminar?
Elizabeth Harris is a 2L at American University's Washington College of Law. She received her bachelor's degree from Boston University where she majored in Communications and Legal Studies. In her spare time, she enjoys running, reading and baking.