Mentoring

Lessons Learned—and Shared—with Women in the Law

By Cheryl Rich Heisler
Woman working on her laptop

Woman working on her laptop

My business is helping lawyers in transition and I am certainly familiar with a litany of career “wrong-turns” taken by clients.  But I was just introduced to a most coherent list of the right things women lawyers should be doing to advance their careers.

As a legal career consultant who constantly promotes networking, I attended my annual Northwestern Law women’s alumnae luncheon earlier this week.  We meet on the 80th floor of a lovely club in Chicago, with great food, great service and spectacular lake views.  But when our speaker opened up the program with “I hope today’s comments won’t send you out to the nearest bar,” I realized the niceties were over; we were going to be getting some straight talk about the success of women in the profession.

Sheli Z. Rosenberg, a Principal at Roselin Investments and a former managing partner at the law firm of Schiff Hardin LLP, went to great pains to share with us her views about the lack of women lawyers in the Boardrooms, C-Suites and Managing Partnership ranks across the country.  The numbers don’t add up she noted; for years now, women have easily made up 50% or more of law school student bodies.  So why do we remain so underrepresented at the highest levels?

Instead of solely laying blame at the feet of big, male-dominated institutions, Rosenberg charged those of us in the room, and our counterparts, to challenge the acceptability of these kinds of statistics.  Referring to “at least 100 things” she now knows (after having had to learn them the hard way) that can help women in law move ahead faster and more directly, Rosenberg agreed to let me share 10 of her top mantras:

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