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5 Things You Must Know Before You Start Your Legal Career

I practiced law for seven years, and I wish that someone had given me this information before I started practicing. As a result, here are five tips (and there are many more) to help you start a successful law career:1. You are a business owner.  You’ve just spent the last three years talking about torts, contracts, and constitutional law, but if you’re joining a law firm, you are a business owner.  If you were starting your own company, you would need to market yourself and your skills, find (and keep) clients and new business, manage your time, and keep track…

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My Mommy is a Lawyer

I started writing a blog as a way for me to vent a little about the stress of going back to work after my daughter was born. With hours of commuting to and from Boston everyday I figured I had plenty of time to jot down some thoughts that maybe someday my daughter would enjoy reading, or use against me in therapy.I am 36 years old, married for almost one year to a wonderful man, a recent home owner (my advice-never buy a house when you are pregnant), and a new mother to a beautiful daughter. Add to all of…

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The 2010 ABA WILL Academy Recap

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the ABA's Women in Law Leadership Academy in Philadelphia last week. This was the best attended WILL ever - 520 women participated - and the energy in the room was as invigorating as the advice coming down from the speakers. Here are some of the highlights:Attributes of a Leader:Michele Mayes, quoting Cathy Lamboley: "The skills that get you to the table will not keep you at the feast." In other words, the great billable numbers that helped you advance through a firm or company won't help you over the hurdle to…

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Alternative Career Choices: Heather M. Butts, J.D., M.P.H., M.A.

People often ask me how I arrived at the place that I am in my career.  I am a lawyer, but I am an administrator at Columbia University Medical Center, the founder of a youth non-profit (H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths; and an adjunct professor at Columbia’s Public Health School. In effect, I have gone the “alternate career” route. Did I plan it all out?  Did I know as a first year law student that I would be spending my weekends mentoring college bound under-served New York City young people?  Or that I would be grading graduate school papers on the…

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Communication Skills for Young Associates

Jay Sullivan, a partner at Exec Comm, offered advice on effective professional communication at an event co-hosted by Ms. JD and Columbia Law Women's Association at Columbia Law School.  The ability to communicate effectively, whether in a front of a large crowd or in a one-on-one meeting with a partner, can either enhance or hinder our career trajectories.  Despite the importance of oral communication, it is difficult to get honest feedback on how we come across.  Mr. Sullivan suggests the following:--Avoid looking nervous by focusing on one individual person for 5-7 seconds (the time it takes to complete one thought out loud)…

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Lawyering and Living for Less: Building a Working Wardrobe Without Breaking the Bank

The law is a profession that values itself on appearance.  Lawyers dress in the most professional of attire, abiding by rules that would seem outdated and absurd in just about any other profession.  So when you're entering the legal field after spending (at least) the last three years as a student, making the transition can be daunting.  How do you go from a wardrobe of sweatpants and coffee-stained t-shirts to one of suits, heels, and pearls, before you've received your first paycheck?Okay, perhaps I'm exaggerating.  Most law students will have decent work attire from summer jobs, as well as one…

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Ashley Dawn Rutherford Esq.

Savvy Shopper-At-Law: Investment Pieces Worth Their Price

 A fabulous professional wardrobe need not and should not cost as much as a small car. Style is as much about intelligent choices and a fabulous attitude as it is about the money spent on the wardrobe. With that being said, some wardrobe items are an investment and worth the extra money. This column is dedicated to teaching you how to find investment pieces at a reasonable cost.Accessories: First and foremost, whether you are a fashionista, frugalista, or pride yourself on your simple elegance, all female attorneys should purchase a simple pearl necklace.  Simply put, cheap pearls will not do;…

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Congratulations to the 2010 Margarent Brent Award Winners!

Congratulations to the four phenomenal women receiving this year's Women Lawyer's of Achievement Award:Brooksley E. Born, Retired Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP; Washington, DC. Elizabeth J. Cabraser, Founding Partner, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP; San Fransico, CA. Willie Stevenson Glanton, Former State Legislator, State of Iowa; Des Moines, IA. M. Margaret McKeown, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; San Diego, CA. Laura Stein, Senior Vice President-General Counsel, The Clorox Company; Oakland, CAThis year Ms. JD's student Fellows will be paired with this and past year's winners and commission members. 

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Susan Letterman White

Assessing Your Leadership Skills

The following is a leadership skills inventory to help you understand yourself better and think about how to capitalize on your strongest skills and strengthen your weaker ones. This inventory should be used after reading the first two articles of this series. It incorporates the concepts from those articles. Click here and here to read those articles. This inventory does not assess your leadership style or personality, two views of leadership, which I believe have a cultural bias that favors white men over women and minority lawyers. This inventory is adapted from the skills inventory created by Peter G. Northouse…

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Free ABA Membership Available this Week!

The ABA is offering free membership through the 2010 Annual Meeting in August. The offer expires Monday, February 15th. Sign up at To redeem the free membership over the phone, call 1.800.285.2221 and mention code RMM9MHSR. In the last year I've had a chance to work with the ABA's Commission on Women in the Profession as well as a number of other divisions of the ABA. Membership comes with interesting leadership opportunities, invaluable workshops and trainings, and access to important networking events. Students can join for free, and now with this offer anyone can enjoy free membership for the…

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