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In This Economic Downturn, Now Is the Time to Prioritize Diversity and Mentorship

In a recent article written by Carl Cooper, for 'The Complete Lawyer,' Cooper argues that law firms are really missing the point in this economic downturn if they are focusing solely on increasing profits. "If law firms were ever serious about retention, now is the time to prove it. Instead of hoarding billables for themselves, partners with time on their hands should use this period to boost their individual mentoring skills and help develop different associates who may be the future client base of tomorrow," Cooper points out. While law firms are increasingly showing their will to become more diverse…

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Cracking the Glass Ceiling?

In an article written by Sandra Rubin for the Globe and Mail, 'What will it take to crack the Glass Ceiling?", Rubin reports that according to Catalyst Canada, which surveys its law firm members on workplace diversity, women will not achieve parity with men at law firms until 2088. As Rubin points out, however, those that chalk this up to being a women's issue have it all wrong. This is not only a women's issue; it is a profitability issue. As she reports: "Every time a female associate walks out the door, anywhere from $250,000 to $600,000 the partnership has…

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The best advice I’ve received so far: be pleasant & be organized.

(Cross-posted at Young Lawyers Blog) The tricky thing about being a new corporate associate is that no matter how well you did in law school, you will still feel unprepared for the realities of corporate practice. Part of that stems from the fact that law school coursework is generally weighted in favor of litigation (case-in-point: my law school offered more legal writing classes on the nuances of appellate brief-writing than there were students, but only one contract drafting seminar per semester). The other part is that learning how to practice corporate law requires getting out there and getting experience. Understanding…

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2009 Partner Class: Stagnant for Women Lawyers

In a recent press release, The Project for Attorney Retention reported that Law firms' 2009 partner class shows little progress for women. The good news is that at 23 of the 100 firms surveyed by the Project for Attorney Retention, the new partner classes were at least 40% female. The bad news is that the gain is offset by the failure of 14 firms to make any female partners. The top firms? Cravath (67%), Dickstein Shapiro (67%), Wiley Rein (60%), Andrews Kurth (57%), Bryan Cave (56%), Arent Fox (50%), Baker & Daniels (50%), Hogan & Hartson (50%), Holland and Hart…

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CNN Reporter Seeking Attorneys to Interview for Special Report

A CNN reporter is looking for attorneys to interview for a special report.  These attorneys should be either lawyers who have recently been laid off and who are moving into public interest law or young attorneys who are still on a firm's payroll but who have been offered the option to move into work in other areas for the year.  If you are interested in participating in this project please contact Paramjit M. Mahli, from the Sun Communication Group, at, by FRIDAY (morning), MARCH 13.

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Acheiving Equity Partner Status: Three Hurdles

Anna Collins has a new piece at The Glass Hammer, The Struggle To Achieve Equity Partner Status. Ms. Collins discusses three hurdles women face as they work to achieve equity partner: (1) a lack of role models or mentors (2) the increasing importance of a book of business (3) work-place bias Asserting that these challenges must be overcome in order for women to break into equity ranks, Ms. Collinsmaintains that women "must take the initiative to develop their own mentors and role models when necessary, with the ultimate goal of growing their books of business." She also notes that "law…

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Susan Cartier Liebel

Is Now The Perfect Time To Start A Solo Practice?

The short answer: Yes. I'm totally aware of the inner hysteria most people are feeling about our economy, needing to take a Valium before they open their 401k statement this month. Watching your property taxes increase while your home value drops like an elevator with broken cables. You've either been laid off or can't get your first job. I get it. Trust me, I do. History tells us when economic times are their shakiest, it is the perfect climate to start a new business. (No, I'm not insane The following is information collected from disparate sources: Did you know that…

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Is the Profession in a Crisis?  And, Can Better Work/Life Balance Ride in on the Coattails of Reform?

There is an interesting article titled, Will a bad economy force more changes in the profession? by Diane Curtis on the front page of the California Bar Journal dated January 2009. It opens with: While some people hope the flagging economy will get law firms to rethink how they bill clients, others are warning that associates had better churn up the billable hours or face the prospect of losing their jobs. The article explore many pressures that law firms are feeling today: Clients that don't want to pay associates at partner-level billing rates. (The article says that large law firm…

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Part IV in Series: A Junior Associate’s Networking Plan

Today's post in the series I've named "A Junior Associate's Networking Plan" is Community Involvement. See here for the start of this series. As a junior associate in BigLaw, many partners and professional development folks have told me that the key to being a rainmaker is community involvement. I think the idea is that you should get to know as many people in your community as possible so that they will think of you when they need legal work. Makes perfect sense, huh? However, I work in the corporate department of a big national law firm. So, I think that…

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On a Tightrope

In her New York Times piece, The Tightrope of Managing a Law Office, Anita J. Cicero discusses the challenges of being an office managing partner. Watching management issues unfold each week is like watching TV when someone else controls the remote. One moment you’re watching a documentary, then — click! — it’s a thriller, then a drama, then the evening news. Switching among unfolding story lines, focusing on practical and fair solutions and trying to remember to prepare that agenda for a 4 p.m. teleconference make for stimulating and often exhausting days. At 43, a relatively young partner at Drinker,…

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