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Susan Smith Blakely

Diversity in Big Law—- An Ultimatum from Corporate America

A very large group of general counsels (170 to be exact) posted a letter and signatures on a LinkedIn group page this week in support of diversity of women and minorities in law firms.  The letter was a direct result of discussion after the Paul Wise law firm announced a new class of partners in December, complete with photos of them all.  That would be all white males and one white female. The reaction to the lack of diversity was harsh throughout the profession and in the media, and the LinkedIn effort soon was launched by Michelle Fang, chief legal officer of…

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How to Build Credibility in the Personal Injury Field

Personal injury lawyers get a bum rap, but there are more ethical lawyers working this practice area than unethical ones. Building a positive reputation and credibility is key, and that can be particularly challenging in this competitive field. With a carefully planned strategy and persistence, it’s possible to become the go-to lawyer for personal injury cases in your area. Keep Your Word and Mind Your Manners Honesty and integrity are crucial when developing a positive reputation. Mind what you say, and do what you say. If you aren’t doing this already, start now – and keep doing it throughout your…

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Unpaid Internships: A Garbage and Discriminatory Legal Practice

Do you want to know the best-kept secret in the legal community? Unpaid internships. In my last blog post, I mentioned that I had four unpaid internships in law school. I received several stunned responses from friends outside the legal community, specifically those in business school. I thought it was common knowledge that many law student internships are unpaid. Spoiler alert: it’s not. For those outside the legal community, here are two important things you should know. One, it is very common for law students to work full-time, unpaid internships during the summer and school year. Two, law students are…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers Must Retain the Law Profession’s Foundational Values

In case you missed my recent article in the ABA Journal, I am including some of it here.  The content is very important to all women lawyers as women rise in the profession to levels of supervision and management.  They must be cheerleaders for each other, and they must not give into temptation to right the sins of the past leveled by male practitioners against women in the profession.  To do so would be to unwise and shortsighted.  Here is some of what I wrote in the ABA Journal article: The senior women need to remember the words of former U.S. Secretary of…

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Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: Practical Advice for New Lawyers

Happy New Year! This month, I am going to ask the questions. With the start of a new year and the conclusion of the annual associate evaluation process at many firms, it is a great time to take stock. The questions below are designed to help you reflect on the past year and get off to a strong start in 2019.  What were your work highs and lows last year? Start with a high-level “fly-over” of the past year. What stands out? And are there any trends or patterns that warrant a closer look? Think about successes and what you…

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Four Expenses That May Not Be in Your Law Firm’s Budget

Running a successful law firm requires you to attract and retain clients as well as to provide exceptional service on a consistent basis. More than that, you need to properly manage your law firm’s budget and finances so that you regularly operate in the black. Unfortunately, there are several expenses that are common in law firm operations and that may be easy to overlook. As you review and update your law firm’s budget, consider if these commonly-overlooked expenses may need to be incorporated in your firm's financial plan.   Equipment Repairs and Replacements A typical law firm has many types…

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You Don’t Own This, So Don’t Let it Own You

I had just arrived in the office, dumped my bags at my desk, and sprinted down the hall. I had to find my boss. I needed to tell her about a call I received from a client in the middle of the night that made my heart race and jaw clench. It involved an urgent, immediate, life-altering matter that couldn’t wait until morning, and I had to give the kind of legal advice that you ruminate about for hours after you hang up the phone. I found my boss sitting at her desk and scanning through her email. I knocked…

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How To Optimize A New Law Firm’s Website

Gone are the days when lawyers would rely on traditional advertising and referrals to spread the word about their practice. Instead, the internet has stepped into the role of loyal clients that recommend a law firm, and lawyers can now use online locals to market themselves. As such, law firms are taking the right steps to consolidate their online presence and enhance the outlook and functionalities of their websites.   Talk to SEO Experts The best way a law firm can ensure that its web pages pop up whenever a potential client is searching for an attorney online is to…

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Can the Contingency Fee Structure Work with Business Cases?

Fee structure is an important consideration when going into your own practice. Traditionally, your practice areas dictate how you got paid. Attorneys who work with private individuals typically work with on a contingency basis. Attorneys who work with businesses, on the other hand, generally work on retainers and/or hourly fees. But there are some attorneys who are taking the contingency approach with corporate clients. Can this fee structure work? Is it even advisable? A Growing Need Contrary to popular belief, not all corporations have unlimited sources of wealth. Corporations with limited resources are often forced to endure injustices because they…

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5 Reasons Why Mentoring Is Good for Mentors

     Lack of mentorship for female attorneys is often cited as one of the reasons that women still have not achieved parity in the legal profession. Most of the time when people talk about mentoring, however, the focus is on the benefits that such a relationship offers to the mentee. As a new partner, I certainly appreciate this since I know that, without good mentors, I never would have made it. Still, I have been struck over the last year how much relationships with younger lawyers have benefitted me in positive way. I have always believed in the idea…

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