Susan Smith Blakely

Why Affinity Groups Matter in Law Firms

Earlier this month, I was delighted to be an invited guest at the Proskauer Women’s Networking Event in Manhattan.  From 8 until 10 AM, the women of Proskauer and their clients and other invited guests pampered themselves with blow-outs and bellinis at the hair salon in The Plaza.  It was affinity networking at its best, and I congratulate the women of Proskauer for their ingenuity and clever marketing.

Affiinity groups matter in advancing diversity in law firms.  They matter to all of those who are underrepresented, and they especially matter a lot to women trying hard to prevail against the challenges of a law career to advance in the profession.

However, not all of the members of law firm leadership understand or believe this.  Here is a link to an article to help you to establish and underscore the importance of a women’s initiative at your law firm.  You also will be helped in this endeavor by the information in my new book, Best Friends at the Bar:  Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, which will be released by Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers in July.  I have devoted an expanded discussion in that book to what makes a successful women’s initiative, and the information can serve as a blueprint for your efforts in setting up a successful initiative at your law firm.

Good luck with your efforts!  We all will succeed together!

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 

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