Susan Smith Blakely

Women Supporting Women—- Women Lawyers Should Follow the White House Lead

As women lawyers, you know the drill, and so do the women of the White House.  Female White House staffers and women lawyers (who often also are White House staffers) have a lot in common when it comes to grueling hours, hyper-aggressive colleagues, and lack of access to the boss ---- which all can have an adverse impact on the retention and advancement of women in the workplace.  It is very challenging, but the women at the White House have discovered an effective approach that you need to know about. In a recent article in the Washington Post, the subject…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Become Your Own Hero—- Or Heroine For You Women Lawyers!

Did you have a super hero growing up?  I can remember the Marvel Comic Book superheroes as if it was yesterday.  For the younger among you,  GI Joe and Wonder Woman might have been your heroes, and there were many others --- something for everyone.  We admired these characters for their strength and bravery and compassionate and independent behavior.  They made us think that we could be like them --- if only a little bit.  We liked to be on the side of the super hero or super heroine because it was usually the just and right place to be. …

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Susan Smith Blakely

Lawyers and Stress:  What All Lawyers—- including Women Lawyers—- Need To Know

Recently I wrote an article for Corporate Counsel magazine and its on-line blog which addressed, among several topics, the toxic cultures of law firms.  Here is some of what I said there: The truth is that we don't do the profession of law very well in America.  We ignore the lifestyles and well-being of practitioners.  The law firm culture encourages workaholic behaviors that lead to stress-related illnesses and dependencies, as confirmed by research demonstrating that lawyers suffer from alcoholism and illegal drug use at rates far higher than nonlawyers.  Divorce rates among lawyers, especially women, also appear to be higher…

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Susan Smith Blakely

One Professional Woman’s View of Effective Dialogue about Race

The tragic and alarming issues with race relations in our country are effecting all of our lives, whether we actually experience these events or simply read about them or watch live footage of them on television.  As law professionals, we are often asked to step to the front to help solve these problems, in both large and small ways.  Here is one way that a woman professional accepted her responsibility. Goldman Sachs is encouraging employees to talk about race at work, and Edith Cooper, Head of Human Capital Management for Goldman Sachs, has taken it very seriously.  Below is the…

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Susan Smith Blakely

A “Conversation” with an Accomplished Woman Lawyer and a Powerful Businessman

You may have noticed that I don't get into politics in my work.  My goal is to be a voice for the retention and advancement of women lawyers, and I know that my audience is diverse in terms of political persuasions.  Waxing on my political views risks cutting me off from part of that audience and defeating my mission.  I just do not do it. Today, however, I want to talk to you about a political event that involved an accomplished woman lawyer having a "conversation" with a very powerful businessman.  My message is not about politics or policies.  It…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Have Women Lawyers Lost Something on Their Way to Becoming Leaders?

This article from The Atlantic caught my eye on my news feed earlier this week.  It addresses what the writer thinks women have lost in advancing their opportunities in the workplace.  It is a historical perspective, but the message is meant to be very au courant. Although I have my own thoughts on the downside for women as we struggled to take our places at the tables of power in law and business and some of the messages that worked against the causes we were trying to advance, I have not given much thought to the kind of loss that…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers In America:  For Those Who Have Lost Perspective

Greetings!  I am back from my August hiatus, all refreshed from the crisp and clear Maine and Wisconsin air and ready to tackle again the issues affecting women lawyers.  And, there are so many! To get the Fall started off right, let's check our perspectives.  There is so much to be accomplished by women and for women in America, but there also is so much to celebrate.  Maybe it is my mindset as I reflected on Labor Day and how women fit into the workforce here.  Although, as women lawyers, we do not have all that we want and equity…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers:  Welcome to the Practice!

So many new law graduates started jobs in law firms within the last few weeks, and many of them are young women.  They are enthusiastic and energetic, but they know little about the jobs they are being asked to do.  Law school teaches a lot of substance, but most law schools are still very short on practical application and hands-on experience.  This can lead to a lot of insecurity within the throes of new lawyers who walked into the hallowed halls of law firms in the last few weeks. That is to be expected.  If you are one of them,…

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Susan Smith Blakely

New Approaches to the Practice of Law

At about the same time that my recent article addressing needed changes in law firm cultures was being published by Corporate Counsel, the Women in Law Hackathon was being held at Stanford Law to address better compensation models for law firms.  Some of my friends were involved in the Hackathon, and, indeed, it is the brainchild of Caren Ulrich Stacey, the founder of the OnRamp Fellowship.  It seems that we all are wondering how to improve what have come to be toxic law firms cultures and create better-functioning and more diverse BigLaw atmospheres, beginning with new compensation models.  Read all…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Are Women Lawyers Held to Higher Ethical Standards Than Their Male Colleagues?

I love listening to NPR while I am driving in my car.  Fortunately, or unfortunately as it may be, I live in the Washington, DC area where traffic is worse than most places in the country.  As a result, I spend a lot of time in my car in traffic.  The silver lining is that it gives me a lot of time with NPR. Recently, while listening to All Things Considered, I heard about a study examining unconscious and subtle biases within the context of whether men or women are more ethical at work.  In examining which group, men or…

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