Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers In America:  For Those Who Have Lost Perspective

Greetings!  I am back from my August hiatus, all refreshed from the crisp and clear Maine and Wisconsin air and ready to tackle again the issues affecting women lawyers.  And, there are so many!

To get the Fall started off right, let's check our perspectives.  There is so much to be accomplished by women and for women in America, but there also is so much to celebrate.  Maybe it is my mindset as I reflected on Labor Day and how women fit into the workforce here.  Although, as women lawyers, we do not have all that we want and equity continues to be elusive on many issues, we have become serious contenders for some of the most important high-level jobs in our profession.

More women lawyers than ever are at the helms of law firms across the nation, and we are shining a light on issues of implicit biases that hold women back and keep them from reaching their full potentials in the law.  Those conversations are important and hopefully will result in an increase in partnership and judicial appointment figures for women lawyers and provide them the careers that they want and deserve.

Women lawyers also are demonstrating that they are not satisfied with the status quo.  There have been as many as four gender discrimination law suits filed against major law firms by women lawyers this year.  Although I have no idea about the merits of these suits, the pattern does suggest a need for reform.   It also demonstrates that women lawyers are not willing to sit on the sidelines and that they know how to do something about it.  Yesterday I was contacted for contribution to an article coming out soon in American Lawyer on-line addressing these issues.  Look for it.

And, of course, we have the possibility of our first woman president --- who also happens to be a lawyer.  No matter where you are on that issue, you cannot deny that Hillary Clinton's words "Women's rights are human rights" are a guiding light for us all.

Perspective.  We always need to keep it in mind.  For those of you who need an extra nudge, check out this story about the Saudi women and the underground running club.  That should make it very clear.  All these women want is the right to exercise in public --- and they are fighting for it.

 

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 Corporate Counsel Magazine, the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, DC Spotlight, Lawyerist. Com, Daily Muse 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" for her work on behalf of women in the law, and she is the recipient of a Lawyer Monthly Women in Law Award 2016.

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 www.bestfriendsatthebar.com. 

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