Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers Bullying Other Women Lawyers—- Not a Pretty Picture

  If you never have been bullied in the workplace, you are lucky. If you never have been bullied in the workplace by another woman, you are very lucky. It happens much too often, and you need to make sure that you are not the bully.  That is the only way we will get this under control. I, like most women lawyers, have been bullied at one time or another.  We are minorities, and that, unfortunately, is how minorities get treated.  Many of us were "pioneers" in our fields, and, because of that, the forces were against us in an…

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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…

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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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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers Need Balance

Every year at this time, I put Best Friends at the Bar on hold to spend time with family and friends.  It is a month-long hiatus that I know is enviable but that I feel entitled to after all these years.  And I LOVE it.  I will be at the Massachusetts shore with friends and at the Maine shore with family, and I can't wait for the games to begin! It is not that my work is over or that my desk is clear. That is not the case at all.  I am completing the manuscript for a new book, on deadline…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers Should Avoid the Heat

Yes, it is very hot this summer in most parts of America, but this is not the kind of heat I mean. The heat I am talking about occurs when boys and girls start fooling around on the job.  There is no place for this in the law profession, and I hope you know it.  I made it clear to you in my first book, Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Aspen Publishers 2009).  Presenting yourself as a professional to avoid mixed or wrong sexual/relationship messages is serious business and needs…

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Susan Smith Blakely

In Praise of Independent Women Lawyers

Happy Independence Day!  Yes, it is about small town parades, fireworks and sparklers, burgers on the grill, mountains of ice cream, and being together with family and friends. It only comes once a year, so knock yourself out!  But, during the festivities, do not forget about the "independence" part. I am not just talking about the Declaration of Independence or what it has meant to the evolution of this country where we all enjoy freedoms and independence unparalleled in the world.  That is the focus, but it goes much further than that.  It is about national independence and also about…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Good News for Women Lawyers With Families

Here is some very good news for women lawyers with family responsibilities.  In her article for Above The Law, Staci Zaretsky describes a new program for women litigators who no longer can make traditional law firm practice work because of childcare responsibilities and other aspects of family life.  She outlines a "hot new trend" of lawyers leaving law firms to join what she describes as a growing field of litigation finance and highlights the efforts of Fulbrook Capital Management in developing a program to fit the needs of women lawyers. Known as "Virtual Women in Law," the program is Fulbrook's…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Progress on Parental Leave—Not Just for Women Lawyers

The progress on maternity leave for lawyers has been significant in recent history, and more and more women lawyers are benefiting from law firm policies that are slowly coming into the 21st Century.  It is not surprising that the needs of mothers, who actually carry and give birth to the babies, should be the initial focus of parental leave, but the needs of the fathers are finally getting attention, as well.  Firms like Winston and Strawn and Orrick, that give both mothers and fathers up to 20 and 22 weeks of paid leave, respectively, are leading the way.  Orrick's policy…

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Susan Smith Blakely

The Big Picture on Gender Bias and Women Lawyers

The number of gender bias law suits and gender bias complaints against law firms is on the rise, based on this article in AmLaw Daily, which quotes David Sanford, the chairman of Sanford Heisler Sharp, who represents most of the plaintiffs in the current lawsuits.  Sanford also has represented countless other women lawyers in complaints against their law firms based on unequal opportunities and unequal pay as compared to their male colleagues. Most of you probably have read at least something about the current law suits, but there is more that may come as a surprise to you.   What…

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Susan Smith Blakely

More Feedback for Young Women Lawyers

This is a topic that I address whenever I speak on effective leadership for young women lawyers.  However, the need for valuable feedback to young lawyers about the quality of their work is not gender specific.  They all need it, and most of them do not get enough of it. Not giving good feedback to junior lawyers is a real failing of senior lawyers, and it lowers the level of effective leadership in law firms.  Relying on annual reviews as the only way to address issues of work product, professional behavior and related issues is not serving the young lawyers…

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