By Gina F. Rubel
Special to the Legal
I had the pleasure of attending a Philadelphia Bar Association Women in the Profession meeting where a panel of some of the most admired women lawyers in Philadelphia discussed the topic of women advancing in law firms. There was a reccurring theme of “ambition” and how it plays into moving up and success within a law firm.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “ambition” as "an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power or desire to achieve a particular end." So once you have the “desire,” it is important to understand what that desire is for. If it is to move up and be successful with your law firm, here are some of the things that these women leaders advised.
Seek a Mentor
Roberta D. Pichini, a partner with Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig, encouraged women lawyers to take time to sit and think about what their long- and short-term goals are.
“Think it through and clarify your intentions,” she said. “Ask the questions: Who can mentor me? And what’s the reality of me reaching my goals?” She encourages all women of all ages to seek a professional mentor in your firm (not a personal mentor). Pichini also advises that you should become a valuable asset to your law firm by “helping to increase the size of the pie” (bring in business). Pichini said women need to carry themselves with confidence and be ambitious.
Develop Professional Networks
Stephanie Resnick, a partner with Fox Rothschild, spoke about making partnerships and building business. She recommends getting involved in the community. First and foremost it is important for self-enrichment to do what you like to do and give back.
Resnick said, “Be active in the legal and business communities. Participate outside your law firm in bar associations or chambers of commerce. These groups foster networking which leads to business. In addition, look at expanding relationships with existing clients. Determine where your relationships are, it’s about relationship building. Recognize the connections between people.” She went on to advise women to “be visible within your law firm -- volunteer for more. Show a willingness to assist in any way. Demonstrate that you are capable in all situations.” And also, “Be ambitious.”
Follow a Path
JoAnne A. Epps, president of Temple University Beasley School of Law, also provided important advice for women lawyers. One of the first things she said was, “Keep your resume as if you are an academic. List your speaking engagements and published articles in the Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) format. This is an important tool to have up to date and a way to keep your accomplishments together in one place.”
She said your professional resume is a great map to your career -- a path that you should map out and follow. She said, “Figure out what you want, articulate it and position yourself early. Set your sights high, think about being the foreign ambassador not just an ‘international attorney.’” According to Epps, “It’s all about ambition.”
Make a Difference
Lynn Marks, the executive director of Pennsylvania for Modern Courts, talked about making a difference. She said, “Think about how to make a change -- always look to make something better. Figure out how to use your law degree on how to make a difference. Consider pro bono work. Find what you are passionate about and follow your dreams. Never give up regardless of what you do and always keep your eye on both short and long term goals.” Lynn concurred that making a difference requires the ambition to do so. She also said, “Be ambitious, assertive and confident and you will succeed.”
Gina F. Rubel is the owner of Furia Rubel Communications Inc., a public relations and marketing agency with a niche in legal communications. She maintains a blog at www.ThePRLawyer.com, is a regular contributor to The Legal Intelligencer’s blog and blogs for The Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gina-furia-rubel). You can find her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/ginafuriarubel or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ginarubel. For more information, go to www.FuriaRubel.com.