Susan Smith Blakely

The College Admissions Scandal and the Importance of Values to All Young Lawyers

The current college admissions scandal.  How awful. Not that we did not suspect lack of fair play in college admissions.  We all are aware of the legacy preferences and how the issues of societal inequities play out in this setting, but the magnitude of the alleged criminal behavior and its impact on applicants nationwide is nothing short of disgusting --- and very predictable.  It was only a matter of time before the misplaced motives of helicopter parents reached such a low. Coincidentally, my new book addresses the erosion of values in the legal profession, specifically the current toxic cultures of…

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Susan Smith Blakely

International Women’s Day

  Today is International Women's Day.  I hope you are celebrating being a woman or having a wonderful woman at your side. Today we remember that we have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go in terms of equal opportunity, equal pay, implicit bias, and respect.  Even equal protection comes to mind as we are reminded of the recent disclosures by Senator Martha McSally--- women are not protected adequately within the military ranks any more than they are protected in society at large.  Sexism is still baked in the cake of our culture, and we…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Young Women Lawyers:  Beware of Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Mental illness and substance abuse are big problems in our profession today.  I call attention to these issues whenever I get the opportunity to speak to lawyers, young and older.  I did it at the event for the launch of my new book at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago on February 4th and also two days later at a program for law students in Michigan.  I implored them to be careful personally and to be vigilant on behalf of colleagues. I noted at both events that the American Bar Association (ABA) has identified an initiative to address these issues and…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Young Women Lawyers: Help in Transitioning to a New Firm

  The legal field is very dynamic these days and has been that way for awhile.   Most lawyers change practice venues multiple times in their careers, and research shows that millennials will change jobs four times in their first decade out of college. Up until the 1990's, lawyers often stayed with one -- or possibly two -- firms most of their careers.  Sounds hard to believe now, but it's true.  However, the boom economic days of the 90's saw law firms grow in size and spheres of influence exponentially, and lawyers started moving around like bees in a hive…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Do Women Lawyers and Other Women Leaders Have to Be Nice?

A lot has been written in the last few days about what makes a good woman leader.  Those discussions have been within the context of the political arena, which is not too surprising because the Speaker of the House of Representatives is a powerful woman, and the roster of persons announcing to run for POTUS in 2020 is full of powerful women. So we have read here how Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota and proclaimed presidential candidate, is perceived by some of her staff as "not nice" and even "mean."  And today we read here that Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, uses her…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers Need Men to “Step Up” Like They Did

It was reported in the NY Times and other news outlets recently that male managers are afraid of mentoring women in the #METOO Era.  Maybe you read about it.  Or maybe you were watching the discussion between Stephanie Ruhle of MSNBC and her guests last week about those reports.  I was watching, and it was incredible.  If you did not catch it, check it out here. Or maybe you were at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January and heard the buzz about it there.  Apparently lots of males from around the world were sharing their fears. I have…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Diversity in Big Law—- An Ultimatum from Corporate America

A very large group of general counsels (170 to be exact) posted a letter and signatures on a LinkedIn group page this week in support of diversity of women and minorities in law firms.  The letter was a direct result of discussion after the Paul Wise law firm announced a new class of partners in December, complete with photos of them all.  That would be all white males and one white female. The reaction to the lack of diversity was harsh throughout the profession and in the media, and the LinkedIn effort soon was launched by Michelle Fang, chief legal officer of…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers Must Retain the Law Profession’s Foundational Values

In case you missed my recent article in the ABA Journal, I am including some of it here.  The content is very important to all women lawyers as women rise in the profession to levels of supervision and management.  They must be cheerleaders for each other, and they must not give into temptation to right the sins of the past leveled by male practitioners against women in the profession.  To do so would be to unwise and shortsighted.  Here is some of what I wrote in the ABA Journal article: The senior women need to remember the words of former U.S. Secretary of…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Be Aware of Warning Signs of Instability in Young Lawyers

  The facts shared this week in an open letter from the widow of a Sidley lawyer were shocking and heartbreaking.  The suicide of a 42-year-old partner in the LA office raised many issues of our responsibilities as lawyers to our colleagues. It was discovered too late that this suicide victim suffered from a form of perfectionism that created so much pressure, anxiety and insecurity that the only way out seemed to be to take his own life.  If those facts came as a complete shock to everyone around him, that would give those of us in the profession some relief.  It…

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Susan Smith Blakely

LSAT Haters:  Listen Up!

Everyone hates the LSAT, and that is the way we like it.  Hating people is not good --- in fact it is very, very bad --- but hating tests is OK.  So many former LSAT takers are very happy hating this ridiculous test (which only predicts success in the first semester of law school), and we want our bad memories left in tact. But, now we are told that the LSAT has a benefit beyond giving some people an edge toward law school acceptance.  The benefit approach is just plain not fair or productive in the hating process. Here's the scoop. …

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