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Susan Smith Blakely

A Case of Outrageous Advice for Women in Business

Consider this advice for women in business: Women’s brains absorb information like pancakes soak up syrup so it’s hard for them to focus.  Men’s brains are more like waffles.  They’re better able to focus because the information collects in each little waffle square. Surely this would be from some gender-insensitive and stereotype-infused speaker or handbook of yore.  That is what you would think.  And you would be wrong. And then imagine me as so completely shocked, dismayed and outraged when I read this quote in a recent article in Huffington Post Business that I let out a primal scream.   For over a decade…

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Susan Smith Blakely

How Women Lawyers Are Perceived:  The Double Bind

Perception can be more important than fact.  I learned that when I was Chief of Staff for an elected official.  Politics is ripe for misperception, but the applications go far beyond that setting. Women often are the unfortunate recipients of misperceptions.  And that is especially true of women lawyers.  For example, women lawyers often are judged in a harsher light than their male counterparts when they display assertiveness, self-promotion or anger, according to a survey conducted by the Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings College of Law for the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the Minority Corporate Counsel…

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biglawinvestor

How to Get A Handle on Student Loans

It's that time of the year again. Fall is in the air and thousands of newly-minted lawyers across the country are walking into their first jobs after having passed the bar exam (we hope!). While the flush of starting a career is a lot of fun, there's usually a monster hiding in the background that many lawyers would prefer to avoid: staggering student loan debt.  Luckily, paying off your student loans is a problem that you're well-equipped to handle, assuming you decide to take a proactive approach rather than burying your head in the sand. Get your arms around your…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Young Lawyers Should Reach for Their Dreams:  The Example of Belva Lookwood

This blog post is not only for women lawyers.  It is for all young lawyers.  It just happens that Belva Lockwood is one of the best examples of reaching for dreams of practicing law --- because of the lack of opportunities for women during her lifetime. So, you say, "Who is Belva Lockwood?"  If you attend or attended George Washington University Law --- where she graduated from a predecessor law school there and where the Belva Lockwood Society is very active --- you would know.  If not, it is much less likely that you ever have heard of her. I am fortunate…

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3 Time Management Tips for New Lawyers

The average lawyer bills 2,200 hours a year, or about 42 hours a week. But this is just your billable hours. Lawyers often work an 8-to-6 or 9-to-7 day with a few exceptions. Some firms will expect you to bill 2,000 to 2,400 hours annually, but there are other firms that are more relaxed, with a 1,600 billable hour requirement per year. New associates at large firms will have a lot of intense work hours, and because these new associates have fewer responsibilities and lower skill levels, they do more of the grunt work. You can expect to work 50…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Are You Addressing Your Workplace Wellness?

Wellness is a big deal in the legal world today.  Not wellness as in healthcare law.  Wellness as in the mental and physical health of lawyers. We know that statistics support a concern about drug and alcohol addiction among lawyers, but until recently the effects of anxiety and depression had not gotten as much attention.  It was a 2016 landmark study by the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation that revealed to me just how widespread and alarming the problems have become among lawyers. Anxiety and depression experienced by law professionals are serious and…

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mjtimko13

Something Blue: Bringing Blue-Collar Roots to the Legal Profession – An Interview with Rexanah Wyse

For this month's post, I am delighted to feature an interview with Rexanah P. Wyse, a first generation attorney and former prosecutor dedicated to changing the narrative for vulnerable populations.  Rexanah currently works for the federal government where she serves on a policy team that is focused on youth homelessness, criminal justice, racial equity, human trafficking, and ending homelessness for families.   Could you tell Ms. JD blog readers about your background and what prompted you to apply to law school? My lineage is directly tied to Sierra Leone in West Africa.  A small developing nation with a powerful history of…

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Susan Smith Blakely

The Importance of Feedback for Millennial Lawyers

Millennial lawyers need feedback from supervising attorneys on a project basis --- not just once or twice a year in scheduled reviews.  That is well-established.  People in positions like mine hear it all the time, and we know how important feedback is to junior lawyers --- especially those who were raised with an abundance of feedback and mostly praise. What does not get as much attention is the critical failure by law firms to revise review policies and mentoring efforts to meet the feedback needs of young lawyers.   As I have stated to law firm and bar association audiences…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Young Lawyers:  Ask for What You Want!

Asking for what you want?  Ah.  It is much harder than it sounds.  But, you must master the fine art of identifying what you want and asking for it.  Especially at work where every opportunity lost can negatively affect your career path. My friend Anne Loehr just posted an article about this, and I thank her for that.  As a leadership consultant to companies and firms, she has done a lot of thinking about this.  She isn't always writing for lawyers, but the same rules apply throughout the working world. Anne rightfully points out that the response "I don't care" is…

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Susan Smith Blakely

What All Lawyers Need to Know about Origination Credit

If you are a lawyer just beginning your career, you probably don't spend a lot of time worrying about origination credit.  In fact, maybe you never heard of the concept.  That makes sense.  You have a lot of other things to worry about that affect you on a daily basis in pursuit of improving your skills and becoming the best lawyer you can be. But there is a difference between "worrying about" and "being informed about."  As far as I am concerned, every private practice lawyer, regardless of experience, needs to at least be familiar with the concept of origination…

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