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Get The Call Back: Navigating the Legal Job Fair

Last month, we talked about successfully navigating the on-campus interview (“OCI”) process for rising second year law students. I had the privilege yesterday to recruit at the Northeast Region, National Black Law Students Association’s (“NEBLSA”) job fair at New York Law School. I never participated in a job fair while in law school (I did only OCI) so the process was all new to me. True to form, I left thinking about how to provide you with some helpful tips on navigating the job fair process which, like OCI, can be quite exhausting. Let me set the scene: The potential…

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Re-thinking the OCI Process: Is This Law Firm a Good Fit for Me?

I recently participated as a mock interviewer to prepare rising second year law students for their on-campus interviews (otherwise known as “OCI”). OCI begins right about now when rising second year law students are also learning whether they have been accepted to write for a law journal and/or will compete on Moot Court -- both of which are important in garnering a coveted summer associate position. To put it simply, it is a very stressful and competitive time. The OCI interviews are very quick -- about twenty minutes or less -- and serve as the initial screening process for law firms.…

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Self-Care for Women of Color At Work

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”  -- Audre Lorde The unfortunate reality for many women working outside of the home is that dynamics within the home still require that many women shoulder the burden of household chores and caregiving responsibilities, including, caring for children and elderly relatives and contributing/managing household finances. Most women are essentially working at least two jobs -- one that is paid and another one unpaid within the home (and the latter usually doesn’t come with pay increases, bonuses, days off or promotions; hopefully it does come…

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Breaking Down The Competency Gap

“I cannot make a mistake,” said a minority lawyer at a large law firm whom recently shared with me her feelings that she cannot make a mistake out of fear that she will be perceived as incompetent. She referenced a 2014 study conducted by Nextions where partners, male and female of various racial/ethnic backgrounds, participated in a “writing analysis study.” Of the 53 partners who participated, 29 partners were told they were reviewing a legal memo written by a white associate named Thomas Meyer and 24 partners were told they were reviewing the same memo but written by a black…

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Self-Promotion at Work: If You Got It, Flaunt It

Self-promotion often causes immense yet unnecessary stress and anxiety for many women, including me. (To be honest, even the title of this blog post makes me cringe!). Even though I went to an all-girls high school and a women’s college, where I was empowered and encouraged to make my voice heard, I still struggle with promoting myself professionally. This may have started in college: at Bryn Mawr, my peers were all very intelligent and capable, and we were discouraged from openly discussing grades in order to foster a less competitive environment. Unfortunately, I may have taken this approach with me…

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Insecure at Work: Being Authentically You Without “Switching It Up”

A friend of mine introduced me to the HBO hit Insecure and it became my Sunday guilty pleasure. For those who have not seen it, Issa Rae stars as Issa, a black woman who works at a non-profit and spends most of the season re-evaluating her career and love life. Her best friend Molly, played by Yvonne Orji, is a black woman navigating Biglaw who is also struggling in the dating world. In one scene, Molly’s law firm partner approaches her about talking to the new summer associate who is an outspoken black woman named Rasheeda. The more seasoned lawyers…

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Do Diverse Attorneys Need Diverse Mentors And Sponsors?

Recently, I was speaking with another African American attorney who told me that she has not had a mentor in her five years of practice at a large law firm. She expressed that there aren’t any income or equity partners of color and very few of them are women. Understandably this absence of leaders of color and women leaders led her to wonder what it means for her own career. To add to her worry, she has struggled to receive quality work assignments, which has hindered her development. Straddling the line between hypervisbility (as the only woman of color in…

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Navigating “Biglaw” as a Woman of Color

Study after study show that women of color are fading from large law firms and most leave before they are even considered for partnership. Hence, women of color remain the most underrepresented group at the partnership level. The source of this problem is definitely complicated and difficult to pinpoint: is it an issue of law firm culture, a dearth of minority leadership and access to high-ranking mentors and sponsors to guide women of color in their professional development, or a lack of exposure to clients and quality work assignments to develop their legal skills? Perhaps it is not an “either/or…

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The Reasons Smart Lawyers Blog

Every year, law schools are churning out more graduates than there are legal jobs.  Whether you initially land your dream job or not, you have to successfully market yourself so that you are distinguishable and remain competitive.  Having strong lawyering skills is the bare minimum requirement nowadays.  Lawyers must have a solid name and reputation in the legal community to garner respect from their colleagues and adversaries and in order attract business.  In networking circles, I am constantly hearing: “It is not who you know, but who knows you.”  By blogging, you are developing your professional brand, increasing your profile,…

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