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Susan Smith Blakely

What Can Law Firm Leaders Learn from a Pandemic?

Law firm leaders come in all shapes, sizes, skin colors and backgrounds.  They are both male and female, young and old.  Some are effective, and some are not.  And the differences in their effectiveness as leaders are especially apparent during a challenging time like a pandemic, which changes all the traditional rules in a very traditional profession.  Like wheat and chaff, like milk and cream.  Only the best rise to the top --- or, at least, that is the way it should work. So, what can effective leaders learn from a pandemic.  It is an odd question, but it needs…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Are Law Firms Training Leaders or Followers?

I have been wondering about this for years.  Are law firms training effective leaders --- or are they simply creating followers?  We are seeing a lot of ineffective leadership in public office these days on both sides of the aisle --- “leaders” who would rather tell us what we want to hear rather than what we need to hear.  And some of that ineffective leadership also is right here in our own profession.  Effective leaders have plans to make things better.  They do not shy away from leadership because they know that will create models for followers.  And followers do…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Will Kindness Prevail in Law Firms Beyond the Days of Coronavirus?

  The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating to so many lives and complicating and stressful to so many others.  It has left many experiences in its wake that will best be forgotten, if that is even possible.  Images from the news each night, alone, will be hard to forget. As much as we want to forget much of what has gone on in America during the last 90-plus days, there are some things that I hope we remember. I hope that we remember the kindness.  I hope that we remember the caring.  I hope that we remember the civility.  I…

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Susan Smith Blakely

What Millennial Lawyers Need and How Law Firms Must Respond

I have written and spoken a lot about what millennial lawyers need.  And, as many of you know, my book, What Millennial Lawyers Want:  A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2018), explores the subject at length. Even with that book and the many speaking engagements that followed its popularity, I am grateful each time I see another writer tackle the issue.  The experiences of young lawyers and the future of the law profession are big issues and causes for concern, so I welcome other ideas and approaches. And once in awhile, I see an…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers Are Held Back by Childcare Responsibilities:  What Are Law Firms Doing About It?

The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) issued the One Third By 2020 Challenge in 2006, calling for law firms to have one-third of their equity partners be women by 2020. At the end of 2019, law firms collectively had achieved only 19 percent. One reason for the slower than predicted ascent of women lawyers to ownership positions in law firms is that women bear the major responsibility for childcare.  Tech-assisted flexibility makes it possible for women to service clients, but that flexibility doesn't extend into the "realm of developing a book of business," according to Jennifer Minter, Chair of…

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PaulaMJones

Everything Nobody Ever Told Me: Is Self-Employment For You?

Being a self-employed means you work 12 hours a day for yourself so you don't have to work 8 hours a day for someone else. - Oliver Markus Malloy After twenty years at law firms, I left with my book of business and opened up my own practice.  Words  really can’t express the sheer happiness I have experienced since then.  I bill fewer hours but take home significantly higher compensation.  I actually enjoy practicing law again.  I am finally able to combine my international practice with my love of travel, resulting in more trips abroad to meet with clients and…

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mKYCZwhJPG

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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evanslaw

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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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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