How Women Lawyers Can Chart a Different Course (Part 1)

Kimberly Alford Rice

This is the first of a three-part series of articles with tips on How Women Lawyers Can Chart a Different Course by Kimberly Alford Rice.

For all the chatter, studies, and disheartening stats we read on where women in the law rank in the legal services sector, I say “phooey”. Yes, the numbers stink; yes, there are real barriers, discrimination, disappointing treatment from law firm leadership, but hey, we are women “with a capital W”, as the phrase goes.

Though I am not nor ever have been a practicing attorney, I have also strategically navigated the career slalom among men in the sense that I am usually the only woman in the board room; have been perceived as a “trouble-maker” at times when I regarded my role as a “positive change agent”; and have proactively spoken out for and against a leadership decision when I sensed it was misguided.

To this, I say: If a woman (lawyer or other professional) is committed to creating the career of her dreams, she will, with some support from her friends.

Below are tips for staying on track along your professional journey:

  1. Recognize the value of getting the “right folks” on the bus and those who must come off. For a host of reasons, not everyone will be a supporter. Know that and keep moving forward in executing your plan. There are the doubters, the second-guessers, the jealous ones, and those who will try to stand in your way. Utilize your astute intuition and clear the path of those who do not totally support you.
  1. Get and stay focused. It is too easy to lose focus on creating the ideal professional life by how everyday life steps in the way. That is one of the reasons why it is imperative to develop a strategic plan for your goals each year (with reasonable deadlines and measurable metrics) to keep you on track.
  1. Enlist support of professional coach. Referring to item #2 above, the probability that you will stay focused and execute with any great consistency exponentially increases when you engage a professional coach. When we build the accountability factor into the mix, everything about creating your ideal professional life experience works better. Care enough to invest in yourself, and seek out this critical resource.
  1. Carve out a non-conformist role. Because there are so many paths to a fulfilling career than settling into the traditional one, should you consider a different path which will work better? If commuting time consumes too much of your work day, propose to work at home (or closer to your home) at least one day per week where you will likely be much more productive.

If childcare concerns are always looming, propose and/or create a different situation. There are many ways to “skin a cat”, as the saying goes.

In part two of our three-part series, we will explore additional steps you can take to move closer to charting your own professional course.

About the author:

Kimberly Rice Headshot_small formatKimberly Alford Rice is President and Chief Strategist of KLA Marketing Associates (, a business development advisory firm focusing on legal services. As a legal marketing authority, Kimberly helps women lawyers develop practical business development and marketing strategies which lead directly to new clients and increased revenues. Additionally, Kimberly provides career management services to lawyers in transition.  She may be reached at 609.458.0415 or via email and Twitter.