Don't Squander Female Lawyers' Talent. Susan Smith Blakely Shows You How.
What better place to celebrate Susan Smith Blakely's latest book about women in the legal industry than the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the only museum of its dedication in the world? (Not to mention that the author is a charter member from when the museum was first founded in the '80s.)
Here's Susan, right, with American Capital's Heather French and Hogan Lovells's Marcia Wiss (a friend of Susan's from Georgetown Law). Susan spent 25 years in private practice and public service and retired as a law firm partner in '06. She went on to write a series of three books, the latest of which is Best Friends at the Bar: Top-Down leadership for Women Lawyers. She says the first two address women's responsibilities to safeguard their own careers, while the third addresses the responsibility law firms have to not squander women lawyers' talent. It's critical that law firms "lean in to women lawyers," she says, otherwise they risk losing their middle ranks (as women drop out), which impacts succession planning, and losing clients that are committed to diversity.
We snapped Susan's husband, Polsinelli senior partner and former Marine Corps aviator Bill Blakely, with DLA Piper DC co-managing partner Mary Gately and DLA Piper associate Victoria Bruno. Mary, who took over as DC co-MP last year (check out our profile of the DC duo) tells us that she worked with Bill starting her first year as an associate, and he was always supportive of her finding a work-life balance. Mary spent 14 years working part-time after the first of her three children was born; during that time she became the DC litigation chair. Mary contributed to Susan's first book and is featured on the back cover of the newest read.
Dentons' Lori Mihalich-Levin, Womble Carlyle's Cathy Hinger, and Faegre Baker Daniels' Libby Baney and Kasie Brill. Cathy tells us she'd also worked with Susan's husband, Bill, since her first days as an associate. Early on, he gave her the opportunity to work closely with him on multidistrict litigation that arose after a deadly plane crash in Croatia, a unique opportunity for a first or second year associate.
DLA Piper NY co-managing partner Heidi Levine came into DC for the event; we spotted her with DLA Piper's Sarah Kahn. Heidi's also featured in the book, in the form of her remarks when she was honored with the Women of Power & Influence Award by the National Organization of Women.
A raffle included items such as a designer necklace by Gorman Jewelers, chocolates by Puja Satiani, and copies of Susan's book series. Before folks picked up their prizes, we snapped Rhonda Lees, General Dynamics' LaGuardia Myers, Womble Carlyle's Pam Rothenberg, and the AARP's Leslie Nettleford.