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Law Practice

A Woman’s Place Is … Everywhere

By Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

It’s International Women’s Day today. And, while it’s true that the annual celebration has its roots in the 1908 American Socialist Party’s National Women’s Day, the event has grown far beyond its original geography and ideological underpinnings to become a global celebration with no political connection. Now, thousands of events throughout the world inspire women and celebrate their achievements.

What better day to explore the many resources available to women in the law? Whether you are a woman—or just love and respect one (or more)—today’s Friday Five is for you. So let’s start at the top.

1. The day itself. It seems appropriate, at least once a year, to celebrate this whole “woman thing.” Take a look at the material online about today’s celebrations around the world and, at the very least, you’ll want to share a bottle of wine with a friend or two to observe the day. If you’ve planned something more festive, you may want to take advantage of the Publish a Page feature and share what your friends have put together. Call us silly, but we particularly enjoyed the Flats 4 Females promotion, which must certainly have been some push back to the Confidence Is Beautiful promotion that asked women to post a photo of themselves in high heels on Facebook and Twitter. (Now there’s an eye-opener for anyone who thinks women speak with one voice!) But seriously, it’s not all fun and games. Women Helping Women is a powerful and inspiring movement, to name just one.

2. “I enjoy being a ‘girl.'” Not! All the way up to the upper reaches of the American judiciary, there are women with law degrees who started out as the “girl lawyer” at some point in the past. Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kite. They tell funny stories about it. For some, it was an insult. For others, an opportunity. If you’re curious how much progress has been made (or you’re looking for hard data to make a fine point), the National Association of Women Lawyers co-publishes the highly acclaimed annual National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms. The ABA Commission on Women also publishes a Current Glance at Women in the Law. The bad news? We still have a very long way to go. Good news? Well, there really are very few “girl lawyers” these days.

3. Walk on by. Maybe you’re more interested in observing than in participating in what’s going on in the world of women lawyers. There’s nothing wrong with that. One great way to keep your finger on that pulse is to tune into women’s groups on Twitter and watch the little birdie’s fly by. Here are a few highly watchable Twitter handles to help you keep tabs on a daily basis: @womensday, @msjdtweets, @Advance_Women, @womenontheverge, @TEDxWomen. To collect more, you can always peruse the list of who else watches these, or who these folks follow. Or you can check TweetGrader’s 100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter. Or Twitter’s Top 75 Badass Women and even Forbes’ 14 Power Women to Follow on Twitter.

4. Crack the Books. There’s a lot of good reading on the subject of women in the law. Philosophical. Aspirational. Even some great “how-to” articles. Start with a compendium of articles like consulting firm Hildebrandt’s, or the ABA’s Women’s Portal. (While on the ABA website, check out Women Rainmakers and the Directory of Associations for Women Lawyers.) We really like Attorney at Work Advisor Jordan Furlong’s recent blog post “Why Women Leave Law Firms and When They’ll Return.” (He’s our kind of guy.) Looking for a longer read for your next trip? How about Mona Harrington’s Women Lawyers: Rewriting the Rules or My Beloved World (Mi Mundo Adorado), Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s new autobiography?

5. Now, for the fun of it. If you are on Facebook and you haven’t “liked” the Women Hold Up Half the Sky page, well, you should. Click over there right now and celebrate the one-year anniversary of this inspiring page by women about women all around the world. And if you enjoy fiction with a little reality dialed in, upload One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus. It’s a delicious retelling of American Indian history in first-person journal form. You won’t soon forget it.

Merrilyn Astin Tarlton is a woman, and she has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She is the Partner/Catalyst at Attorney at Work. A founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, she is a Fellow and past President of the College of Law Practice Management as well as a member of the inaugural class of the LMA Hall of Fame. Follow her on Twitter @astintarlton.

Categories: Daily Dispatch, Friday Five, Managing a Law Firm
Originally published March 8, 2013
Last updated May 11, 2020
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Merrilyn Astin Tarlton Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

Merrilyn is the author of “Getting Clients: For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over.” She has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She is a founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, an LMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a past President of the College of Law Practice Management. Merrilyn was a founding partner of Attorney at Work. 

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