Women in the Law

Posted on December 10, 2012 04:33 by Kim Tran

According to an article in Inside Counsel this week, which cites to U.S. census figures, women now hold one-third of all jobs. This figure includes legal jobs which corresponds directly to the recent rise in women attending law school.  Yet despite our gains in the workforce and in the legal sector, we have yet to make significant gains when it comes to leadership and partnership roles.  

Exactly why that is still unclear, and everyone seems to have an opinion.  Often the argument sounds like a chicken or the egg debate.  Is it that women simply choose to leave or turn down top positions to raise families or is it because those positions and opportunities are made less available to them?  Maybe the answer is a mixed one and one more dependent on that individual woman’s circumstances and nothing a corporation or law firm should worry about, or maybe there is a something that law firms and corporations can and should do to ensure that there is a more equal distribution of females holding top positions.  Regardless of your position on the topic, the uptick of women in the workforce, and in law, is not likely to change any time soon.  How do you think this trend will change the discussion?  Do you think that the gap will eventually close itself with the rise of women workers or do you think that the gap will only close if proactive measures are taken by both existing leadership?  
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Categories: Law School | Women in Law

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Jury selection, mock client pitches, and personal negotiation tactics, oh my!  The Women in the Law Seminar is not just for or about women.

So many helpful tips and tricks today.  Loved the synergy of humor and energy In the jury selection segment.  Lori Cohen and Samantha Holmes offered fantastic advice on how to navigate jury selection in the Facebook generation.

The client pitch presentation was especially innovative.  A role playing segment that allowed us to examine and evaluate two different client pitching approaches with a real in-house counsel representative.  Amazing props to Ashley Cummings of Hunton & Williams LLP and Jennifer Haltom Doan of Haltom & Doan LLP for providing such great examples of how client pitching works.  Can't wait to see how this presentation concludes tomorrow when April Miller Boise of Veyance Technologies Inc and Marianne Trost of The Women Lawyers Coach LLC evaluate the techniques of each.

Victoria Pynchon's negotiation presentation and breakout session were particularly helpful.  Making the case for why women need to negotiate their way up in the firm, she offered real solutions and strategies on how to negotiate for our bottom line.  Truly motivational and inspirational. 

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Categories: DRI Brand | Seminar | Women in Law

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Media strategy and the tips and tactics of developing female organizational power were the big topics of the morning at this year's DRI Sharing Success seminar in sunny Scottsdale at the Westin Kierland Resort.  The morning started off with TV and radio personality, Mary Katherine Ham.  She regularly defends her political opinions on her morning radio program, The Morning Majority, and against Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor.  Her presentation focused on finding our voice and crafting our message and defense in the media - be it in the press, on tv, or on the Internet at large through social media.  Enlightening and refreshing and a great start to the morning. 

Linda Bray Chanow from the Center for Women in the Law spoke next and offered a very interactive discussion on the perceptions of female power in business and law. Simply by starting with a classic scenario we've all seen in our professional careers,  attendees peppered Ms. Chanow with questions and comments. Overall an incredibly collaborative and insightful presentation that will surely lead to continued discussions amongst all the attendees during the rest of the seminar.  Definitely excited to see what the rest of day has to offer.  

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Do you feel at a loss or intimidated or repulsed by the thought of using social media? Like it or not, social media sites are a new means of communication, which we cannot ignore any more than we can ignore email. The fact is social media, if used properly, can be an effective, professional, and personal tool. If you are not using these sites currently, take a few minutes to see why you should be using social media and what you can do efficiently and effectively to save time, learn more and even advance your career. 

What’s the point? It’s all about building and creating relationships. Think about the way you traditionally get to know someone. You meet, you talk, you learn about each other’s likes and dislikes, you find things in common, and if you like that person enough, you set up another meeting to do it all again. Social media is simply an outlet to let people get to know others at their own convenience. Instead of sharing things face to face, you share things with a select group of people via Facebook or Google+ or you just share things with the world via Twitter. 

But I don’t have time. If you don’t have time to watch the news, read a newspaper/magazine, or go to dinner with a friend—just check your newsfeed. The magic of social media is that it was designed for people with little time and/or short attention spans. We all have smart phones—be it an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phone. We all check our email. But it is even faster to check your newsfeed. Your Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn apps provide a constantly updating newsfeed right on your phone. No longer do you have to read an entire article about the debt crisis; now you can just “follow” the @NYTimes or @CNN on Twitter and catch their headlines in 140 characters or less. Each contains a link that you can choose to click on if you want more information or you can simply scroll past it. Do you love a good travel deal? Do you want to get tips about home repair? For any kind of information that you may desire, there is someone tweeting about it. And that information does not have to flood your inbox and you do not have to waste time deleting it. Got a complaint about a restaurant or hotel you just visited? You can tweet about it. In fact, I tweeted about problems I was having with a particular hotel recently and within minutes, I was offered free parking, free points and free breakfast. I did not have to ask for a manager, and I did not have to be put on hold. Quite frankly, I did not have the time to do either. 

What do I get out of it? You gain information and instant perspective about a company or person just by following their tweets and/or status updates. You would be surprised how often most corporate entities are tweeting and what they are tweeting about. Corporations tweet articles or people that have mentioned them. Some tweet deals and discounts. Some even tweet about legislation that is up for a vote in the House or Senate that may affect them. Not only can you follow the entity, you can follow your client contact. Now I am not suggesting that you “friend” a client on Facebook initially, but you can “follow” them on Twitter or invite them to your LinkedIn network. Both are less personal than Facebook. Following someone can give you great insight into who he or she is and give you an easy way to break the ice the next time you speak with him or her. You can keep it professional and discuss that New York Times article his or her company tweeted about, or you can make it a little personal and ask about the restaurant he or she recently tweeted about. Either way, you have something to talk about.

But what should I share? Anything that interests you from articles to restaurants to experiences. It’s up to you. I assume many people email articles or links to things they have read that they think will be of special interest to someone. While you can still do that, what is even easier is simply posting it on your wall or tweeting about it. You can quickly suggest books, movies or restaurants to your friends and acquaintances. You might tell them about an amazing trip or experience that you have just had – share pictures or video. What we often like to know about people or share about ourselves can all be posted to your “wall” or shared through a simple 140 character “tweet.”

How do I use social media for professional purposes?  It’s all marketing. Lawyers live by their professional reputations and work hard at becoming the expert in their niche area of practice. Social media is a way to advertise your knowledge and insight in a quick and simple way. People may have little time to read your blog or log in and peruse your profile. But a short and insightful post is like a perfect news sound bite. It can have lasting effects and get you noticed. Twitter is the perfect tool for this, and because it is searchable and open to the public, it is best to keep it professional. Facebook can be linked to your Twitter account; however, because many people use Facebook to keep up with friends and family and post pictures, it is probably best to keep Facebook strictly personal. Professional relationships with judges, clients and coworkers (unless they are your very good friends), are better fostered through LinkedIn and Twitter.

Getting Started

1. Open a Twitter account and find some people or businesses to follow. Every so-called expert, personality, news source, or business is on Twitter, so search for them and follow them. You can find out who follows them or who they follow and build your base from there. You will be surprised how much information is available to you in just a 140 character tweet.

2. Pick your niche. Just like finding a niche area of practice, it is important to find your niche when developing your social media personality. Are you the guru on employment law, products, health care? Are you an expert in cooking or travel? Remember just because you are a lawyer, does not mean your social media personality has to be all about the law. It is about building a following and providing helpful information to your followers. If your followers trust you in one area, they are more likely to trust you in other areas.

3. Tweet daily. This sounds harder than it is. We are constantly absorbing information all day. Take a minute to spread that information around. Read a great article —tweet about it. Learned something new today —tweet about it. Found great, but possibly little known case law —tweet about it.

4. Connect your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, selectively. Keeping some things separate is important, but sometimes we want to reach all of our audiences at once. 

    a. Sync your Twitter and LinkedIn account. Market more than just your resume and your network of connections to the LinkedIn universe —market through the tweets you are already posting on Twitter. Do not wait for connections to happen —make them happen. Ask for advice or a business through both your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Syncing is simple. After logging into LinkedIn, there is a status update box just left of the share button. You will see the famous Twitter icon. Click on it and you will be taken to the Twitter authorization page. Follow the steps and choose what you want to be connected.

    b. Selectively connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Sharing personal pictures and status updates on Twitter may not always be wise, but you can send tweets to Facebook by linking the two services and using the hashtag #fb to get certain tweets onto Facebook.This is an option you can turn on through Facebook, just search for “selective tweets.”

Kim Tran is an attorney in the law firm of Hiltgen & Brewer PC in Oklahoma City. Ms. Tran's practice is concentrated in the areas of product liability, insurance defense, insurance coverage, commercial litigation and construction law. She represents companies involved with consumer goods and products, manufacturing industries and the insurance market. Ms. Tran is an active member of the DRI Women in the Law Committee, serving as the vice chair for the webpage subcommittee.
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Female Law Students on the Decline?

Posted on May 18, 2011 04:13 by Kim Tran

An article from AM Law Daily suggests that the continual bad press about the lack of discernible growth in female leadership positions in large law firms and legal departments may be causing a decline in female students applying to law school.  Although it is constantly stated that women make up around 50% percent of the students in our nation’s law schools, the statistics seem to be suggesting a decline.  The numbers at the top ten law schools show that female students make up around 40% of the population, with only the University of Berkeley ahead of the crowd with a female law student population of 52.9%.  Such numbers may not be an immediate cause for concern, but the article does point to statistics that show that there has been a steady decline, albeit a small one, in female enrollment since 2002. 

Is this just the product of regular ups and downs in enrollment levels or a cause for concern that the legal profession should be evaluating?  And if fewer women actually enter the legal profession over time will it further exacerbate the compensation disparity issues between female and male lawyers?  More than anything it may simply be the combination of many factors – the state of the economy and the profession, the cost of law school compared to its benefits and pressures, and the articles and blog reports about the alleged lack of growth potential in Big Law.

 

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Despite significant progress for women in the legal profession, there are some differences in the way men and women are expected to behave that may not change until societal norms and expectations change as a whole.  In a recent article in the ABA Journal, Justice Sotomayor provided some thoughts about the differing expectations of male and female judicial candidates  She remarked that she was offended by some of the questioning that took place during her confirmation hearings, especially questions related to her dating history.  Her dating history was a hot topic because Justice Sotomayor has been divorced since 1983 and never remarried.  For a male federal court judge that fact may not matter.  But for a female judge this fact along with who you have dated, how often, and who you choose to bring to public events easily becomes a source of scrutiny. 

It’s a classic double standard that is unfortunate and unfair.  Proposing a ban on personal questions in confirmation hearings and interviews is probably not enough to change things because you can’t stop people from making assumptions about a woman’s professional ability based on her behaviors in her personal life.  Personal opinions, assumptions and expectations are bred into us through society and the media – many on a subconscious level.  Ultimately, societal and cultural views would have to change before women can feel free to act in the same manner as men without the worry that they will risk their professional reputations.  Whether that can happen depends a lot on those with the power to shape the parameters of what is or is not acceptable within their own offices and professions – be that law partners or politicians. 

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