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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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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

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

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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