June 25, 2014 Practice Points

Women Lawyers Encouraged to "Chart a Different Course" for Careers

By Hannah E. Bellanger

In a series of three recent articles published in Legal by the Bay entitled “How Women Lawyers Can Chart a Different Course,” Kimberly Alford Rice, president of a business-development advisory firm focusing on legal services, offers 12 targeted tips for women to improve their client-development skills.

A number of Rice’s tips stress the importance of a woman attorney investing in herself. For example, Rice counsels women attorneys to engage a professional coach, which she deems a “critical resource,” to ensure that women lawyers set professional goals and remain accountable for meeting those goals. As another way of self-investment, Rice stresses the importance of women attorneys investing in their outward appearance to “[p]rojec[t] a professional, polished image,” which Rice states is “crucial to growing your rainmaker status.” Encouraging women not to fall into the “I can do it all” mentality, Rice also asks lawyers to examine how they are spending time outside of work to identify personal tasks to “outsource” so that woman attorneys can create more time for client development, without impacting time spent with family or billable hours. Rice further challenges women to use the same advocacy skills they’ve developed in advocating for their clients, children, and family to advocate for themselves by “envision[ing] yourself as a client of you.”

Rice’s article presents tips that encourage women attorneys to, at times, be nonconformists. “[Y]our career transcends your job,” says Rice, who challenges women to ensure they are provided an opportunity to “carv[e] their own niche,” sometimes by radical means such as changing firms. Rice further counsels women to consider creative solutions to hurdles in their professional success, such as working from home one day per week, if doing so would increase productivity by avoiding an extended commute. Women attorneys are directed to challenge the status quo because Rice advises that “everything is negotiable,” from dealings with prospective clients to negotiations with a prospective employer.

Rice recognizes the hurdles and struggles faced by women in the legal profession and notes that “[a]s women, we have always had to fight harder, be more resilient, and press more than some of our counterparts.” Despite this, Rice encourages women lawyers to “forge on to meet [their] professional goals.”

 

Keywords: litigation, women advocate, women lawyers, client development, rainmaking

Hannah E. Bellanger works at Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P. in Minneapolis, Minnesota


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