If asked what advice I would offer to young women looking to build a successful career in law practice (or any other field, for that matter), my advice would be: don’t wait for the opportunity to lead—take the opportunity to lead, or make the opportunity to lead.
In my opinion, effective leaders are willing to identify and confront challenges proactively, and are willing to accept full responsibility not only for the outcome of a particular project, but for the process required to achieve a good result. Effective leaders are good listeners, and while they have the courage to make difficult decisions and take ownership of difficult tasks, they are humble and wise enough to acknowledge when something is not working or when changes in strategy or approach need to be made.
Another hallmark of an effective leader is the individual’s ability to effectively manage and motivate a team. To do this, a leader must be able to communicate effectively, understand and appropriately leverage the respective strengths and weaknesses of the team members, appreciate the value of constructive criticism, and be receptive to, and respectful of, the thoughts and ideas of all members of his or her team.
A good leader adds value and inspires others by taking pride in all aspects of a project, no matter how menial or simplistic the task, and encourages and instills a similar sense of pride in his or her team. A good leader has the ability to effectively delegate tasks while still remaining accessible to the team, actively engaged in the project and knowledgeable about the status and direction of the project at all times. A good leader prioritizes the interests of the team or the project over his or her own interests, and realizes that the success of the leader is dependent on the success of the team. A good leader leads by example, and remains true to his or her principles regardless of external pressures or threats.
Finally, because a good leader understands the critical importance of a strong and enduring professional reputation, the good leader earns the trust and respect of her colleagues by treating all people with equal dignity and respect, and by maintaining a tireless commitment to honesty, integrity, and professionalism in all interactions.
What does it take to succeed and stay competitive in your position/field?
Understanding how your clients do business is critical in helping you determine what factors and interests are important to your clients, both internally and as part of the external business community. Similarly, understanding and appreciating your clients’ unique goals and objectives allows you to offer meaningful guidance that helps clients resolve disputes and problems creatively, quickly, and cost-effectively. Finally, it is imperative to develop and zealously protect a strong professional reputation by treating each and every person you encounter with equal respect and dignity and by maintaining and promoting principles of honesty and integrity at all times. This will earn you the trust and respect of your clients, colleagues, community, and the court, and is vital to a successful and rewarding career in law practice.