Susan Smith Blakely is a lawyer, an author and a motivational speaker. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, with distinction, and Georgetown University Law Center, where she taught legal research and writing in a fellowship program, and she is admitted to practice before the courts in both Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Ms. Blakely has been active on issues of equality and women’s rights all of her adult life, and she has mentored young lawyers throughout her career.
After 25 years as a practicing attorney with experience in both the private and public sectors, Ms. Blakely retired from law practice in 2006 to found LegalPerspectives LLC, the umbrella company for her writing, speaking and coaching on topics related to young lawyers.
Her first book, Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers, 2009), focuses on the low retention rates for women lawyers and the special impediments for women in law practice, including the work-life struggle, gender bias, and competing in a male-dominated profession. The book promotes personal definitions of success and provides advice and insight from over 60 lawyers and judges throughout the country.
Her second book, Best Friends at the Bar: The New Balance for Today’s Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2012), digs deeper into the work-life struggle and proposes a new and more realistic balance to help young women lawyers remain in the profession. The book includes profiles of twelve impressive women lawyers, who successfully transitioned from large law firms to alternative practices.
Ms. Blakely’s third book, Best Friends at the Bar: Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers, 2015) explores effective leadership from the top of law firms to increase retention rates for women lawyers and advance them to positions of leadership and management.
Ms. Blakely’s new book, What Millennial Lawyers Want: A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers, 2018) explores what a new generation of lawyers want from the practice of law and how law firms need to respond to the culture and values preferences of lawyers that will take their firms successfully into the future. Links to purchase her book can be found on her website by clicking HERE.
In addition to her books, Ms. Blakely has published in law journals on issues of constitutional and statutory law.
Ms. Blakely speaks on the subjects addressed in her books at law schools, law firms, law organizations, and women’s business groups throughout the country, and she also provides individual and group counseling. Articles by Ms. Blakely on issues affecting the legal profession have been featured in mainstream media including Corporate Counsel Magazine, the ABA Journal, ABA Business Law Today, the LA Daily Journal, Law 360, National Jurist, Forbes Woman, Women Lawyers Journal (NAWL), Lawyerist.com, Daily Muse, Lawyer and Statesman, Law.com, Georgetown Law Magazine, Legal Toolkit Podcast, and Huffington Post Business, among others.
Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues in business and the law profession, and she has been a featured speaker at the US Department of Justice, Civil Division. She is the recipient of the Ms. JD 2015 "Sharing Her Passion Award" and the Lawyer Monthly “Women in Law Award 2016” for her work on behalf of women in the law.
Ms. Blakely also has developed a multi-session program for law firms to supplement their in-house leadership programs, with an emphasis on the soft skills that are necessary to develop future law firm managers and leaders.
Ms. Blakely’s experiences and perspectives as a law firm associate, of counsel, and partner and a chief-of-staff in the public sector are instructive for both women and men alike, and she welcomes the opportunity to work with professionals regardless of gender.
Ms. Blakely lives in Virginia outside of Washington, DC with her husband, Bill, who is also a lawyer. They have two children, who are lawyers and practice with large firms in Manhattan and Nashville.
Ms. Blakely can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and more information about her experience, her books and her speaking appearances can be found on her YouTube channel “Susan Smith Blakely” at www.youtube.com and on her web site at www.bestfriendsatthebar.com, which includes weekly blogs and a bi-monthly newsletter.
All young lawyers need to take charge of their careers. That is especially true of young women lawyers, who face unique challenges due to the work-life pressures centered around caregiving roles. Owning Your Career focuses on the careers of young wom...