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Susan Smith Blakely

Young Lawyers Need to Own Their Careers and Increase Their Visibility

The mission of Best Friends at the Bar is to make all young lawyers succeed in practice.  I speak and write to advance this mission, and, this Fall alone, I will have delivered at least five programs on the issues of most importance to that mission --- programs specific to millennial lawyers, programs specific to the success of women lawyers, and programs about the responsibility of senior lawyers to take measures to retain and advance young lawyers. One of the most popular programs I present focuses on "Owning Your Career and Reinvention." I delivered messages about your responsibilities for owning and advancing…

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saf1367

10 Ways to Become Indispensable at Work

The best piece of career advice I ever received was dispensed to me by my mentor during my summer clerkship in 2001: “The key to getting ahead is to make yourself indispensable,” he advised on my first day on the job. That summer clerkship was full of fun outings, partner luncheons and firm-wide get-togethers designed for the firm to get better acquainted with its ten summer law clerks. Many of my fellow clerks did not realize that the fun-filled summer was really a series of mini-interviews to determine if we were a good fit for the firm. Beyond all of the…

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mjtimko13

Something Blue: Bringing Blue-Collar Roots to the Legal Profession – An Interview with Devon Holmes

For this month's blog post, I am excited to feature my interview with Devon Holmes, Esq.  Devon is a first generation legal professional from Hazard, Kentucky.  Devon serves as an attorney for Social Security Administration's Office of Appellate Operations and she is passionate about public interest law.   In this interview, Devon explains how growing up in Appalachia helped shape her career trajectory.  She also shares thoughtful advice to first generation law students.   Could you tell Ms. JD blog readers about your background and what prompted you to apply to law school? I was born in Hazard, Kentucky, a town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.  My parents were a…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Why Young Lawyers Need Business Plans

As a young lawyer, a business plan may be the farthest thing from your mind.  Billing hours, making your numbers, trying not to look stupid to the partner and, well, just surviving in law practice in the early years are what occupy you.  I understand and remember. But, don't dismiss having a business plan as some other-worldly exercise that is not worthy of your time.  It is more than worthy. I have been preaching --- yes, preaching --- to young women lawyers about the importance of career plans for over a decade, and business plans are the same thing.  All…

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jennyrpatten

Multi-Tasking Self-Care and Professional Development: Podcasts

Like most working professionals, I spend a significant part of my morning and late afternoon commuting to and from the office.  My 30-45 minutes to and from daycare drop-off and the office often are the only time that I have truly to myself, and for a number of years, I’ve spent that time listening to music, participating in work-related conference calls, or using the time to call a friend or family member to catch up.  However, as work and family duties and responsibilities have gradually eroded the time I used to spend for myself, I realized that my commute may…

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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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cZJLDe3t7y

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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