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Susan Smith Blakely

Truth Telling about Law School Debt

  Law school student loan debt.  Just the mention of it can cause most newly-minted lawyers to break out in cold sweats.  It is always on their minds.  It is always standing in the way of getting on with their lives. My children both are lawyers, and the amounts of their student loan debt is shocking.  Fortunately, our family is in a position to help them pay down a large portion of that debt.  But, many young lawyers are not in that position, and I feel so bad for them. Bad because they are in situations where they cannot follow their…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Perfect Pitch for Young Women Lawyers

  Are you musical?  Have you had experience singing in a choir?  If so, you probably are familiar with the concept of “perfect pitch.”   For the rest of you, perfect pitch is the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone.  Perfect pitch results in great vocalists, who can land a note on the musical scale exactly and in a way that is pleasing to the ear, leaving the listener with the desire to hear more. Oddly, perfect pitch works the same in business — and especially for lawyers.  Delivering the…

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How to Improve Your Professional Image in a Consultation

Everything starts with a consultation. This is your chance to make a strong first impression with your prospective client, and your opportunity to review their case to see if it’s worth taking on. If you have several years of experience to draw on, this probably comes second-nature to you, and you can almost evaluate the potential case on autopilot. But if you’re new to the game, every consultation is a big deal, because every client matters, and your reputation is still being formed. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to improve your image during every consultation. Do Your…

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Your Clients Come To You For Answers.. What Will You Tell Them?

You are sitting in your office, surrounded by many leather-bound law books, and the air smells of rich mahogany. A client is sitting in front of you, asking what they should do to make sure their business space is protected. They want to make sure they have a low-risk environment for lawsuits, and they trust that you have all the answers. And, of course, you do. That sounds like a nice dream (with a touch of Anchorman? Weird). It’s your future, as long as you study hard and work your butt off. But what are you going to tell your…

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Friend or Foe? Technology in Our Everyday Lives: Future Mobility

Disruptive platforms and technologies can transform entire industries. From Airbnb and Uber, to cloud storage, 3D printing, and cryptocurrency, innovation arrives in many forms. Take the future of mobility, for example. With the world’s megacities and their populations outpacing existing modes of transportation, visionary solutions that weigh legal risks and privacy vulnerabilities are in demand. KPMG produced a video that provides a glimpse into the future of mobility: see it here. Flying-car lab opens in Paris. Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, describes the future of transportation as being “three dimensional” in that vehicles will be able to move in vertical and…

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You Graduated From Law School… Now What?

One mistake you don't want to make when graduating from law school is to assume that having a major law degree will have clients knocking on your door or local firms immediately hiring you. In fact, the field of law is actually one of the most competitive in the US and law school graduates have their work cut out for them. In today's competitive climate, you have to have flexibility when it comes to geography, a fine attention to details when it comes to compiling a resume, and most importantly, a willingness to take the kind of work that's available.…

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From Paralegal to Associate:  How to Handle Time Constraints

As a new associate, what I found the most difficult to handle is my time.  Especially when I am confronted with something that I am unfamiliar with, I often find myself spending hours of research.  Most of the time, those hours spend on research can’t be billed back to the Client, because it will be unreasonable.  And if you are a type A like me (and I suspect you are) this makes it even more difficult to put a time limit on the assignment.  What I found helpful is to give myself a time window by which I will stop…

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Email Etiquette Rules for the Workplace

I recently made an awful email faux pas at work – I copied a group of attorneys that should have been blind copied – and was horrified when I received a nasty response from one recipient.   You know, the kind of email that makes you cringe in disbelief and re-read over and over to see if you really did something that terrible.  I normally pride myself on being extremely careful with email, but there it was for me and 100 people to see. A mistake like this tarnished my professional image (for now) but reminded me of an important lesson.  I know I’m not alone, so here is…

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Statistically Weeping: Back to School Edition

A new academic year always felt like a clean slate to me. It was a chance to start fresh, another opportunity to further prove and push myself. This had never been more true in law school, so in keeping with that sense of optimism, this month I’d like to take a different approach and offer up some more bite sized thoughts. After all, things are about to get very busy. You cannot drink water from a firehose, but you will be expected to try in class. I took a lot of comfort in that description of my first year classes. The…

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Ms. CyberLaw: Five Things that Strengthen Your Personal Brand

Like it or not, our environment is digital. That means it can be pervasive, both personally and professionally. Nonetheless, having an online presence brings with it many rewarding opportunities such as the ability to network with people you otherwise would have been unable to connect with. It can also help you grow your personal brand, which encompasses your reputation and what you stand for as a professional and as an individual. Here are five ways you can better harness the online environment to strengthen your personal brand.  Reputation, Reputation, Reputation: Before even beginning to think about labeling yourself and projecting your…

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