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Susan Smith Blakely

Best Law Firms for Women Lawyers——How Reliable Are the Lists?

I know that I have published list after list of the "Best Firms for Women Lawyers" over the years in my blogs and on my website.  It seems like the right thing to do for someone who has been devoted to the retention and advancement of women lawyers for more than a decade.  But, honestly, I did it with some reluctance.  I always was a little skeptical about how those lists were compiled, whether the research was based on an even playing field for all contenders, and the nature of the relationships between the ranking entities and the firms ranked…

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Want Career Advice? Look Within First

Most likely, we are all familiar with Robert Frost’s famous opening stanza:             “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,             And sorry I could not travel both             And be one traveler, long I stood             And looked down one as far as I could             To where it bent in the undergrowth.” And most likely, we have been confronted by analysis paralysis at one point or another in our lives. It oftentimes casts a shadow on the plethora of career advice received from various sources – fellow students, professors, seasoned attorneys, mentors who…

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Failure Turned Inside Out: I Don’t Scare Easy

Name: Joy Harper Professional Title: Vice President Capital Markets Tax Sector: Asset Management Law School: Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State Specialization: International Tax and Taxation of Financial Instruments and Products Trusted Advisor “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Any Godfather fan knows that Don Vito Corleone was, frighteningly, a man of his word, but it was his trusted advisor who ensured that Corleone escaped legal reprimand for his chilling antics. Joy Harper became enamored with the advisor’s innate ability to problem solve as a means to effectively advocate for his boss Corleone. Mix that along with her…

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skreed

Skirting the Ceiling: Women’s Initiatives in BigLaw Make Work-Life Balance Better for Everyone

Throughout 1L year the pressure was on to make grades that could score you a spot at a BigLaw job. This pressure seems to weigh down on everyone even though only a small percentage of the 1L class will be considered qualified to work at and will actually work at a BigLaw job. As 2L year approached, my friends and I entered the OCI process and submitted ourselves to a roller coaster of emotions. Personally, I applied to jobs and came into OCI incredibly skeptical and a little awestruck. I was suspicious that the benefits of working in BigLaw actually…

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Susan Smith Blakely

It is NOT OK For Women Lawyers to Cry at the Office

  If you have followed my writing for the last ten years, it will not surprise you that I do not advise crying at work --- unless it is behind closed doors and the telltale hints of crying are erased before you re-enter the office common space.  Or unless you are facing some devastating personal loss. So, when I saw the article "It's Okay To Cry At Work" on Above the Law recently, I had a visceral reaction.  Visceral because I am trying to help you become the most competitive and highly competent and regarded professionals possible --- and crying…

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Susan Smith Blakely

More on Women Bullying Women

  I hope you read the article on women bullying women (aka Queen Bees) that I wrote about in last week's blog.  In case you missed the conclusions from that article,  I am here to help you.  It is a very long article, replete with research findings, and you have so many demands on your time. In recognizing that the answer can't be to simply give into and tolerate the Queen Bees, the writer makes these conclusions about how to eliminate women bullying women in the workplace --- and, of course, that includes women lawyers bullying other women lawyers: Better…

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Naomi

Tips for building a Legal Career when you have Caring Responsibilities

In many law school lecture halls, you will now find at least as many women as men.  There are also more students starting higher education (or retraining for a career change) in later life than ever before.  The logical consequence of this is, that more people than ever are having to balance home life commitments with the demands of studying.  And few career paths are as demanding as law! While it isn't only women who have to deal with caring responsibilities, the reality is that we tend to be the ones performing balancing acts more often.  And it's not just children…

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Too Afraid To Ask

I asked for a promotion last Monday. A coworker submitted his two-weeks notice, and I walked into my boss's office, full of nerves and anxiety, and asked her to move me to his spot. Well, there's more to that, let me clarify: I work as an Assistant Public Defender and I am currently assigned to handle misdemeanor criminal cases of indigent defendants. On November 30, I will have completed two years in the office. I am the longest-serving attorney at my level, and I have built a solid reputation through my work. Well, at least that's what my coworkers tell…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Leadership Lessons for Women Lawyers

  My friend, Caroline Dowd-Higgins, is an excellent career coach, motivational speaker and author of "This is Not the Career I Ordered."   Her recent blog "15 Leadership Lessons to Invigorate Your Career"  is worthy of your attention.  Caroline and I first met when she was the Career Services Dean at Indiana University Law, and I think it is no accident that her advice rings true for young lawyers. Here is her list (with a little editorial help from me!): Be Confident:  Confidence can be more important to career success than competence.   Confidence is developed by you and comes…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Why Young Lawyers Need Mentors—- and Why the Profession is Failing Them

It is not just young women lawyers who desperately need mentoring --- it is all young lawyers.  And, the profession is failing them. Young lawyers need mentors to help guide them in their professional growth and provide opportunities to discuss their futures as lawyers.  Instead, too often, young lawyers flail around doing what they think they should be doing without knowing what it is they should be doing. And, that leads to a lot of insecurity and loneliness on the job.  The profession has evolved in such a way that an associate lawyer can spend eight to ten hours a…

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