Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers Must Be on the Lookout for Sexual Harassment

You all need to be aware of possible sexual harassment in your offices.  These allegations are surfacing across all industries today, and none of us can act like it is not a problem in our profession and in our offices.  We all know that it is.  It was a problem when I first started practicing law in 1979, and it is still a problem today. If you see something, say something.  Sexual harassment can be blatant or it can be subtle --- like when a woman refuses advances from a supervising male colleague and ends up losing support for her…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Mentoring is Critical to Career Success for Women Lawyers

I write a lot about leadership in law firms.  In fact, my last book, Best Friends at the Bar:  Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, is all about that subject.   In that book, I address the elements of effective leadership by presenting examples of good leadership and bad leadership.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of examples of bad leadership to fill those pages. An important part of effective leadership in law firms revolves around mentorship.  Mentoring young lawyers and helping them to develop their career paths and identify and maximize on their talents is key to career success for the young…

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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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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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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 even…

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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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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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