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Charting a Different Course: A Woman Lawyer’s Checklist

For all the chatter, studies, and disheartening stats we read on where Women in the Law rank in the legal services sector, I say “Phooey”. Yes, the numbers stink; yes, there are real barriers, discrimination, disappointing treatment from law firm leadership, but hey, we are women “with a capitol W” as the phrase goes.

Though I am not nor ever have been a practicing attorney, I have also carefully and strategically navigated the career slalom amongst men in the sense that I am usually the only woman in the board room; have been perceived as a “trouble-maker” at times when I preferred to regard my role as a “positive change agent”; and, have proactively spoken out for and against a leadership decision when I sensed it was misguided.

To say this, I say: If a woman (lawyer or other professional) is committed to creating the career of her dreams, she will, with some support and help from her friends.

Below is a checklist along your journey to stay on track:

First, above all else, be clear on exactly what you want your dream career to look like. Do you enjoy working full-time and full-time parenting, or does something need to give? Do you aspire to be partner or work a more flexible schedule? Are you even where you need to be to utilize your skills and talents? Take some time to evaluate and save yourself years by taking a 30,000 ft view on your dream career instead of getting lost in the weeds of day-to-day life and a demanding practice.

1. Recognize the value of getting the “right folks” on the bus and those who must come off. For a host of reasons, not everyone will be a supporter. Just know that and keep moving forward in executing your plan for reaching a “happy place” in your professional life. There are the doubters, the second-guessers, the jealous ones, and generally those who want to stand in your way. Utilize your astute intuition and clear the path of those who do not totally support you. You’ll pick up valuable others along the way.

2. Stay focused. Of course, it is too easy to lose focus on creating the ideal professional life by how just everyday life steps in the way. That is one of the reasons why it is imperative to develop a strategic plan for your goals/objectives each year (with reasonable deadlines and measurable metrics) to keep you on track.

More on this topic in the days to come…

To learn how to apply many of the principles in these books and propel your practice forward, click the button below for a free download How women lawyers can create the career of their dreams by charting their own course. Do it today!

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