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Susan Smith Blakely

Are Networking Events Worth a Young Lawyer’s Time?

I know.  You hear it all the time.  Go to those networking events!  They are so valuable!  And, yes, you have heard it from me before. But not all networking events are equal.  As you will read in this article, you need to be discriminating when it comes to the value of networking events.  Spring is just around the corner (we hope!), and Spring is a season full of networking events.  Better weather and hope for the future spring eternal at that time of year.  So, get ready with some good info on choosing your networking events wisely. As the article points out, human connection…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Michelle Travis, law professor and Dean’s Circle Scholar at the University of San Francisco School of Law has published a new book, Dads for Daughters: How Fathers Can Give their Daughters a Better, Brighter, Fairer Future. Even though I am not a dad, I found the stories fascinating and inspiring. Travis blends meticulous research with endearing and thought-provoking stories of fathers who help expand opportunities for women. It is an easy, uplifting read that I highly recommend. I had the opportunity to interview Professor Travis about the book and her insights on supporting women at work: Q: In the book…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Young Lawyers:  Can Baking Overcome Your Anxiety?

We all are full of anxiety and stress these days.  You know it.  And we all are looking for ways to deal with the disappointing news of the day, the challenges of our work experiences, and the other unsatisfactory realities of our lives. So, what are we doing about it?  Exercise is good.  Eating wrong is bad.  For me cooking is even worse, and baking is out of the question unless it is a national holiday and for my family and friends.  After almost 50 years of marriage and some cooking and baking before then, I am over it.  Hello…

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Practice Pointers - Avoiding a Haphazard Career

Some lawyers always knew they wanted to go to law school. Some went because they didn’t go to medical school (me) or didn’t know what else to do after college (also me). But either way, we all spent our academic years crushing it so we’d have bright careers ahead of us. And then we finally get there – the pinnacle of success that is the oh-so-coveted first real lawyer job. And it’s hard. And we’re working a ton, trying to get through the literal and figurative motions of day-to-day lawyer life. First year goes by, then the second, and so…

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Everything Nobody Ever Told Me: When To Say ‘No Thanks”

"You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."  William Faulkner When I first graduated from law school I had a successful interview at a small firm.  We discussed employment terms, including salary and a start date and they told me they would send a formal offer letter.  The letter never arrived and after leaving several phone messages over the next few weeks, I finally was told that the firm was not going to hire anyone new.  I still remember the devastation I felt after finally realizing that my very first job…

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Susan Smith Blakely

January is Mentoring Month for All Young Lawyers

  January is Mentoring Month.  It is a way of bringing attention to the importance of mentoring to young and inexperienced workers in a variety of jobs.  Workers who wish to advance to levels of management and leadership in their chosen work lives need mentoring to get there. The value of effective mentoring is not only recognized widely, but it also plays out in the lives of managers and leaders throughout our country and the world.  Those managers and leaders likely would not have gotten to such heights without help from mentors. The law business is no different.  Mentoring is…

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Criminal Justice Reform in New York: What to Expect in 2020?

Sweeping criminal justice reforms are coming to New York this year. Starting January 1, 2020, change is coming for the city's prosecutors and police that will force them to adjust their current practices. Here are some of the significant changes made on the criminal justice system to look out for. Bail Reform New state legislature on bail reform aims to reduce the number of people held in jail and the amount of time the system can keep them. People have been languishing in prisons such as Riker's Island and other facilities for years while waiting for their day in court.…

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The Real Benefits of Professional Networks

Networking tends to be an over-worked cliché in many professions, and perhaps most of all in ours.  But the truth is that strong professional networks are a real blessing for lawyers, especially lawyers in small firms or solo practices.  Referrals, introductions and leads come to mind first when anyone mentions networking.  That’s not surprising; referrals, introductions and leads are important gateways to new business.  But new business opportunities are not the only silver lining to networking.  In my experience, the greatest benefit of professional networking has been in sharing and gathering law, information, and litigation practice tips.  Choosing Strong Professional…

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5 Secrets You Didn’t Know About Personal Finance

If you’re like me, you spent the holidays trying to stay warm, avoiding your phone, and curled up under a blanket watching a few lawyer movies, thankful that you’ve somehow avoided getting staffed on one of those must-close-by-December-31st deals.  But now it’s the new year and you’re thinking that you need to “control your money, so it doesn’t control you.” You’ve mastered the basic principles of creating a budget, avoiding credit card debt, and keeping a close eye on your decreasing student loan balance. But what else can you do to master your money and build wealth and security? Here…

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An In-House Counsel’s Maxims for 2020

As I prepared for my last column as a Writer in Residence for Ms. JD, I decided to conclude with something that reflects my own personal approach to my in-house practice.  Although I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions, every December I jot down some guiding principles that I use to refine my mid- and long-term professional and career goals.  Below are four maxims I’m taking with me into my in-house practice for 2020: Fight the Inertia.  Inertia is, by definition, a tendency to remain at rest or remain unchanged. With any new initiative or project that you…

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