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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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Laura Bladow

#Ask4More: Beyond the Money

In case you missed it, April 8, 2014 marked National Equal Pay Day and the launch of Levo League’s #Ask4More campaign. The campaign works towards bridging the pay gap by helping women build the skills they need to ask for equal pay. For me, job satisfaction goes beyond the paycheck. My pledge to ask for more has less to do with my salary and more to do with my professional development. When confronted with a decision to stay in a position or move on, it’s important to look beyond the money and ask yourself, “What do I need more of?”…

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Susan Smith Blakely

A Good Start for Women Lawyers Educating Male Colleagues

There is a new book out that is worth the read for all women lawyers --- and for their male colleagues.  That book,  Sponsoring Women:  What Men Need to Know, was not written solely with male lawyers in mind, but it sure fits the bill. That is no big surprise because the author, Ida Abbott, is a lawyer and has been helping employers develop, manage and retain legal talent since 1995. I am particularly excited about this new book because the theme of "men sponsoring and supporting women" has been high on my list of "must do's" for a long…

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Why Do Lawyers Make So Much Money?

Avvo regularly publishes topical pieces on law and our most recent piece is concerning factors that influence lawyers' salaries. There are two common answers to this question, both of which leave lawyers and clients unsatisfied. Lawyers propose the long hours they work and the level of expertise when justifying their fees. Unfortunately, this argument falls upon deaf ears when clients are charged upwards of $200 an hour for seemingly simple services.  Ironically, both arguments provide little room for compromise and resolution, an area where lawyers are supposed to excel in. Opinions aside, the median annual salary of lawyers was $112, 760. That figure,…

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