By Kimberly Rice • October 21, 2014•Ms. JD, Careers, Firms and the Private Sector, Legal Academia, Nonprofits and the Public Interest, Politics and Government, Other Career Issues, Issues, •Balancing Private and Professional Life, Mentoring and Networking, Women and Law in the Media, Features, First Women, Superwomen JDs and What You Can Learn From Them
Though the road may be paved with bumps and hiccups, women lawyers can absolutely chart their course, a different course by implementing proven strategies to create the career of their dreams. Below are critical habits along that path to a fulfilling and prosperous career.
Become a masterful time manager. Yep, as women, we often wear too many hats. To stay focused and invest the requisite time to create the professional experience you crave, you must assess and evaluate on an ongoing basis, “is this worth my time”. Often, we can outsource some of the tedious tasks of existence such as personal errands and car pools.
There are plenty of virtual personal assistants who would be delighted to take your errand and shopping lists right off your hands. There is literally a service for almost everything you can imagine: online grocery ordering; pick-up/drop off dry cleaning and shoe repair services; housekeepers who offer cooking/chef services; lawn services and landscapers, etc. Do not cling to the “I can do it all” or “I really need to do that” mentality if you are committed to creating your dream professional life which likely includes building a prosperous client base. Tough decisions need to be made and you are the one to make them.
Delegate like a “Big Girl”. Referring to the popular phrase “put on your Big Girl panties and just deal with it.” My version is “put on your Big Girl panties, and delegate it.”
The world does not need any more martyrs and controlaholics who feel they must control every aspect of their lives. Let’s get real for a moment. Something has to go if you are intent on charting a different course for your life. Take a hard look at where your time goes, and find sources to which to delegate. Must you prepare a full dinner every night? With a little tutorial, could anyone else in your household prepare dinner at least once per week? How about creating incentives to entice the proposition? There are so many ways to re-claim some of your valuable time that it would be useful to invest the time and access the resources for doing it.
Nearly every day in my work with women lawyers, I listen to how much discontentment there is, how stretched women feel in trying to “do it all” and are being held back (often from management) from actually carving their own niche. As I frequently say to my clients, “your career transcends your job”. Sometimes, in order to make a measurable change to our professional lives, radical steps may be required (vis-à-vis changing firms altogether).
So be it. Before that, however, I suggest the following:
Invest in yourself. To learn is to invest in yourself. As a lawyer, you will find your way to your special niche, often with a few missteps mixed in. Learning how to present a professional image will render you much more effective and allow your targeted audiences (internal clients; supervisors; key influencers; prospects, etc.). Projecting a professional, polished image is crucial to growing into your rainmaker status. Dress the part and soon, it will be yours.
Whatever you know you don’t know which may boost your success probability, get about seeking the resources/expertise to learn. There is no problem to which there is not a solution. Be committed and you will find what you need. I promise.
Build your confidence. There is no shortage of published studies and reports that document how much confidence women, even educated, highly-accomplished women, struggle with the “imposter syndrome” and a general lack of confidence. If this is a problem area, address it head on. Grab a pal and join a Toastmasters or Improv group which may guide you to taking small risks in front of others as a way to build confidence. Again, there is no problem to which there is not a solution. Make a commitment, and so it shall be.