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Susan Smith Blakely

Why The Rise of Small Businesses is Important to Women Lawyers

I am celebrating National Small Business Week, May 12 through May 16, and you should be celebrating it, too.  The Huffington Post describes National Small Business Week as "a series of cross-country events featuring entrepreneurship forums on business start-up and growth, and highlighting the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from across the nation." Why should this be important to you?  Because these are your future clients, if you play your business development cards right.  According to Amanda Brown, the newly appointed Executive Director of the National Women's Business Council (NWBC), a nonpartisan advisory council serving the…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Calling All Women Lawyers to Sign the Petition!

I am excited for all of you about the bill that Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts introduced in the US Senate this week to address the student loan crisis that is plaguing our nation.  The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai'i), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai'i),…

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Through the Looking Glass—Observations from Five Years Out: Leadership

The pressure of being the first to do something different or new creates high expectations on the person going “first.” Whether intentional or not, the first person to succeed often becomes a leader. For me, successfully embracing a new leadership role depended on finding inspiration in the achievements of another leader, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Monica Márquez. Making “It” Work In September 2011, my husband and I learned we were pregnant. I was elated, yet anxious. I was then a third-year associate and had seen many women leave private practice because they could not make “it” work. I wanted to…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Are You Afraid to Ask for a Raise?  Many Women Lawyers Are

If you find yourself afraid to ask for a raise, count yourself in good company.  You would be surprised to know how hard it is for even seasoned professionals to ask for more compensation.  And it is especially hard for women, who historically have been taught that ladies do not talk about money.  It is also hard for women because, by asking for a raise, you are saying that you are good at something and your worth needs to be recognized at a higher level.  In other words, you are bragging --- or at least it sounds that way to…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Remember the Nigerian School Girls

This two-week old tragedy of the Nigerian school girls has me totally preoccupied.  Kidnapping girls from a school because they are being educated seems of another century.  The kidnappers are opposed on religious grounds to educating women in the western style.  Shocking in 2014.  Shocking at any time. And now.  The news from yesterday that the kidnappers intend to sell the young girls.  Yes, sell.  Straight out of 12 Years a Slave, except that it turns out not to be history.  It is today.  Yes, somewhere on Earth, women are still being sold as slaves today. You would think that…

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Not part of the $1,000+ club | Leaning in is not enough: Gender Billing Study

Patterns of billings and price realization demonstrate profound differences by gender. Men are billed at higher rates irrespective of tenure. Activities create “male” and a very few “female” areas of expertise. This is the first gender study based on $3.4 billion of actual billings. She makes less than her male counterparts. This is true from the highest paying careers to the lowest paying jobs according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is also true in the legal profession, according to the American Bar Association and other independent studies.  The pay gap starts right out of law school and continues as…

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valerie lherrou

No Longer Extraordinary: more humanistic, better client value?

Last month we explored the problems of public interest jobs: happy attorneys, but low pay. At the other end of the pay spectrum, biglaw associates have the opposite problem: they make a lot of money, but are often unhappy.  Recently, I heard Steven Harper(1) address the issue of (among other things) the rather squishy way that large law firms quantify their productivity: the billable hour. This is a non-reliable way to measure productivity, as he points out, because a billable hour is not an output. Clients are taking note, he observes: they are becoming aware that under the billable hour model, the…

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Reclaiming Your Passion for the Law

Like many new law students, I was on a mission to save the world. I wanted to be an attorney to make women’s lives better. But, I soon realized there was far more to the law than I ever imagined. I became fascinated with criminal procedure, property law, and of course, my class ranking.  By summer, I was in the frenzied race for internships with the big firms, apparently forgetting I had no intention of actually working for one. But, this traditional path was alluring: land a job at a big firm, work my way up to partner, live happily ever after. After…

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Reaching Winning Results Outside the Courtroom: Tips on Confronting Colleagues, Friends & Family

As JDs we deal with conflict every day as part of our professional life. It comes with the job. But, to effectively resolve conflict in our professional and personal lives we need to step back from the adversarial role, reminding ourselves that co-workers and significant others are not opposing counsel. The Women in Real Life (WiRL) Leadership Summit is in full swing; a couple days ago, the WiRL Facebook page posted inspiring quotes from featured speaker Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time. This post reminded me that much…

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Killing the Messenger Who Reveals Our Hypocrisy about Race

From beginning to end, the Donald Sterling controversy has had the wrong messaging. The 80-something year old owner of the LA Clippers is caught on tape demanding—or actually whining—that his 30-something year old girlfriend should stop associating with minorities, particularly black people.  That was bad enough, but then the Clippers’ official response to the public outcry was that they needed to “authenticate” the audio to confirm whether it was Sterling on the tapes. (Contrition would have been a much better strategy than hiding the ball—no pun intended.) However the condemnation spotlight is slowly turning away from Sterling and instead to…

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