Sound Bites from the Wisdom of Very Successful Women Lawyers

Topics: Law Firms, Leadership, Talent Development, Women’s Leadership Blog Posts

diverse women

More women lawyers are reaching out to help and advise their younger counterparts than ever before. This is a welcome change from some stories of the past. Madeline Albright’s now famous proclamation that “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” points to that unfortunate behavior.

A panel of senior (in status) Boomer and Gen X law firm partners and corporate counsel imparted, with both wisdom and humor, how they mastered their career trajectories at a recent Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF East) program. The women, in several cases, described how their careers evolved in surprising ways, sometimes in the opposite direction of what they thought they wanted until they gave it a shot.

Here is a collection of sound bites (not necessarily in their exact words) from the discussion that I found both appealing and valuable for lawyers in the audience and even beyond the legal profession/industry.

Lessons They Have Learned from Experience

  • Opportunity favors the prepared.
  • Listen for your boss’ priorities.
  • Have your boss’ back so he/she can trust you.
  • Propose solutions — don’t just do the rote thing with an assignment.
  • Be your authentic self and try to ensure that everyone perceives you the same way.
  • Never say “never.”
  • Don’t consider what you at first perceive as failures to actually be failures.
  • Don’t cover up mistakes. Own up to them and immediately suggest a solution.
  • Show you are constantly thinking beyond what is required.
  • Never confess (especially to a man) what you don’t know. Go find it out.
  • Always look for both mentors and for opportunities to mentor others.
  • Wisdom only comes from an accumulation of experiences.

On the Theme of POWER

  • People perceive power from symbols (g., think about attire, office décor, and what you carry).
  • Project a sense of self-respect to be perceived as powerful.
  • Men define power as control. Women define power as influence.
  • Assert yourself from the beginning when you negotiate compensation.
  • Power is when people more experienced than you respond and do work for you.
  • People give up power by thinking they don’t have any.
  • Act confident and you will attain power.

Which one of these comments most resonates with you, whether you are a woman or not? (Share your thoughts in our comment section below.)

As more women take this proven advice to heart, gender power will shift to be more equitable and transform the legal workplace and its leadership composition.