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Susan Smith Blakely

Why Young Lawyers Need Business Plans

As a young lawyer, a business plan may be the farthest thing from your mind.  Billing hours, making your numbers, trying not to look stupid to the partner and, well, just surviving in law practice in the early years are what occupy you.  I understand and remember. But, don't dismiss having a business plan as some other-worldly exercise that is not worthy of your time.  It is more than worthy. I have been preaching --- yes, preaching --- to young women lawyers about the importance of career plans for over a decade, and business plans are the same thing.  All…

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jennyrpatten

Multi-Tasking Self-Care and Professional Development: Podcasts

Like most working professionals, I spend a significant part of my morning and late afternoon commuting to and from the office.  My 30-45 minutes to and from daycare drop-off and the office often are the only time that I have truly to myself, and for a number of years, I’ve spent that time listening to music, participating in work-related conference calls, or using the time to call a friend or family member to catch up.  However, as work and family duties and responsibilities have gradually eroded the time I used to spend for myself, I realized that my commute may…

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Susan Smith Blakely

A Case of Outrageous Advice for Women in Business

Consider this advice for women in business: Women’s brains absorb information like pancakes soak up syrup so it’s hard for them to focus.  Men’s brains are more like waffles.  They’re better able to focus because the information collects in each little waffle square. Surely this would be from some gender-insensitive and stereotype-infused speaker or handbook of yore.  That is what you would think.  And you would be wrong. And then imagine me as so completely shocked, dismayed and outraged when I read this quote in a recent article in Huffington Post Business that I let out a primal scream.   For over a decade…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Are You Addressing Your Workplace Wellness?

Wellness is a big deal in the legal world today.  Not wellness as in healthcare law.  Wellness as in the mental and physical health of lawyers. We know that statistics support a concern about drug and alcohol addiction among lawyers, but until recently the effects of anxiety and depression had not gotten as much attention.  It was a 2016 landmark study by the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation that revealed to me just how widespread and alarming the problems have become among lawyers. Anxiety and depression experienced by law professionals are serious and…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Young Lawyers:  Ask for What You Want!

Asking for what you want?  Ah.  It is much harder than it sounds.  But, you must master the fine art of identifying what you want and asking for it.  Especially at work where every opportunity lost can negatively affect your career path. My friend Anne Loehr just posted an article about this, and I thank her for that.  As a leadership consultant to companies and firms, she has done a lot of thinking about this.  She isn't always writing for lawyers, but the same rules apply throughout the working world. Anne rightfully points out that the response "I don't care" is…

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jennyrpatten

Five Tips to Maximize Your Efficiency When In-House

When someone asks what in-house practice is like, I often reply that it is like drinking from a firehose. The legal department is the starting and ending point for a lot of projects and issues, and tackling everything that hits your desk without a game plan can feel daunting. While everyone takes a different approach to managing their workload, I’ve outlined a few tips that I’ve initiated during my in-house practice that help me maximize efficiency while in the office. 1. Keep Organized. Staying on top of your various task lists, emails, meeting invites, updates and follow-ups can feel like…

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mjtimko13

Something Blue:  Bringing Blue-Collar Roots to the Legal Profession – On Foie Gras & Food Faux Pas

As I mentioned in my first blog post, I experienced heightened self-awareness about my blue-collar roots once I entered the legal profession.  For this month’s blog post, I wanted to share some of my awkward workplace encounters involving food.  I am fully aware that these awkward food encounters are trivial in comparison to larger socioeconomic issues such as structural inequality.  However, I think it’s important for us first-generation lawyers to share our personal experiences, frustrations, and lessons learned.     As a newly minted lawyer, I found that the majority of my coworkers appeared to possess sophisticated palates and expansive culinary vocabularies.  Casual lunchtime conversations typically revolved around food (in addition to work…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Family Planning For Women Lawyers

Last week's blog addressed the realities of non-equity partnership.  As pointed out in that blog, there is a lot of difference between equity partnership and the increasing non-equity partnership cohort.  If you have to refresh your memory, this might be a good time to do it because family planning for women lawyers builds on some of the themes of that blog. For example, even though non-equity partnership may not include all that women lawyers are seeking, it could be a fine landing place for them while they are trying to make motherhood and lawyering work. When making that decision for…

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How New Lawyers Can Find Happiness from the Start

Are lawyers happy? We know that lawyers have a brutal job, working long hours and missing valuable family time. Working in a large firm can be demanding, and it’s not uncommon for lawyers to work 60 to 70-hour weeks even if they’re billing at 40 – 50 hours a week. Smaller firms are starting to implement what they call “full-time flex,” which allows for a 40 – 50-hour work week that actually means billing for the hours you’re working rather than working 10 – 20 hours more than you bill. While we may see a lot of lawyers working long…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Lawyers of the Sandwich Generation

I know a little bit about the Sandwich Generation.   I was 30 years younger than my mom, and, at the same time that she was becoming aged, my own two children were teenagers.  It seemed like everyone needed help --- or tending --- and I knew that I had to find a way to be there for my mom. So it goes.  If you ever have found yourself in that situation, you know that you are caught between two devotions just like a big ole piece of bologna is caught between two delicious pieces of bread with no way out. …

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