Susan Smith Blakely

Are Networking Events Worth a Young Lawyer’s Time?

I know.  You hear it all the time.  Go to those networking events!  They are so valuable!  And, yes, you have heard it from me before. But not all networking events are equal.  As you will read in this article, you need to be discriminating when it comes to the value of networking events.  Spring is just around the corner (we hope!), and Spring is a season full of networking events.  Better weather and hope for the future spring eternal at that time of year.  So, get ready with some good info on choosing your networking events wisely. As the article points out, human connection…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Young Lawyers Need to Protect Their Careers

I currently am counseling a young lawyer about changing a focus in the law.  In that work, I am reminded of the importance of future vision and developing career plans.  A career plan and the research involved in developing one are essential to protecting your ability to exercise options in time to remain true to the career you envisioned when you entered law school. I know that it is difficult to change courses midstream.  Lots of anxiety and insecurity is involved.  I have been through it myself, and I have helped others through it as well.  One thing is common…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Young Lawyers:  Can Baking Overcome Your Anxiety?

We all are full of anxiety and stress these days.  You know it.  And we all are looking for ways to deal with the disappointing news of the day, the challenges of our work experiences, and the other unsatisfactory realities of our lives. So, what are we doing about it?  Exercise is good.  Eating wrong is bad.  For me cooking is even worse, and baking is out of the question unless it is a national holiday and for my family and friends.  After almost 50 years of marriage and some cooking and baking before then, I am over it.  Hello…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers Have a Right to Choose Their Paths

"Lean in" as a career strategy never has appealed to me.  I have been saying that and writing about it for more than a decade.  The reason is that many women do not have the resources of a Sheryl Sandberg to "lean in" and go directly to the C-Suite or the corner office. Many women cannot afford the in-home childcare with multiple caregivers and the arsenal of hired help for everything from grocery shopping, to carpool, to pick-up at the dry cleaners, to travel planning for exotic family vacations.  Rather than giving many women an edge, "lean in" makes many…

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Susan Smith Blakely

January is Mentoring Month for All Young Lawyers

  January is Mentoring Month.  It is a way of bringing attention to the importance of mentoring to young and inexperienced workers in a variety of jobs.  Workers who wish to advance to levels of management and leadership in their chosen work lives need mentoring to get there. The value of effective mentoring is not only recognized widely, but it also plays out in the lives of managers and leaders throughout our country and the world.  Those managers and leaders likely would not have gotten to such heights without help from mentors. The law business is no different.  Mentoring is…

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Susan Smith Blakely

My Mom, the Lawyer

I just read a book that you all need to know about ---- to read and to recommend to all of the lawyers in your lives.  By "all" I mean both the female lawyers and the male lawyers in your orbits. The book, My Mom the Lawyer, by Louisville, KY lawyer/mom Michelle Browning Coughlin, hits all the marks of my own Best Friends at the Bar project for women lawyers.  Like me, Michelle and her project, Mothers Esquire, are devoted to increasing retention and promotion rates for women lawyers.  And, like me, Ms. Coughlin also extends her project to male lawyers, who are parents and caregivers.…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Young Lawyers Need to Own Their Careers and Increase Their Visibility

The mission of Best Friends at the Bar is to make all young lawyers succeed in practice.  I speak and write to advance this mission, and, this Fall alone, I will have delivered at least five programs on the issues of most importance to that mission --- programs specific to millennial lawyers, programs specific to the success of women lawyers, and programs about the responsibility of senior lawyers to take measures to retain and advance young lawyers. One of the most popular programs I present focuses on "Owning Your Career and Reinvention." I delivered messages about your responsibilities for owning and advancing…

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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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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

How Women Lawyers Are Perceived:  The Double Bind

Perception can be more important than fact.  I learned that when I was Chief of Staff for an elected official.  Politics is ripe for misperception, but the applications go far beyond that setting. Women often are the unfortunate recipients of misperceptions.  And that is especially true of women lawyers.  For example, women lawyers often are judged in a harsher light than their male counterparts when they display assertiveness, self-promotion or anger, according to a survey conducted by the Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings College of Law for the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the Minority Corporate Counsel…

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