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Ask the Women of White and Williams

We asked women lawyers to share significant moments in their careers and advice for young women lawyers.  

What is the Best Piece of Advice That You Have Received?

Melissa Davis, Counsel, General Litigation

No one cares more about your career than you do. I’ve taken this to mean you need to speak up for yourself and do all you can to be sure your career is what you want/dream it to be.

Phyllis Ingram, Associate, Directors and Officers

Don’t worry that you won’t get all the work done on your desk; worry when you don’t have any work on your desk.

Nancy Frantz, Co-Chair, Real Estate and Finance

"Make it happen," which was a phrase often used by a more senior partner with whom I worked. My appreciation of that phrase grows each year, as all attorneys should fully understand that clients entrust us to deliver the best service in a timely manner, and we all need to, at times, regardless of seniority, do what it takes to get the job done, which can range from high level strategic analysis to helping out with signature tabs.

Lori Smith, Co-Chair, Corporate and Securities

Trust your own instincts - if you have something to add to a conversation then speak up and let others know what you are thinking. Women have a tendency to believe others in the room know more than they do and to feel the need to be liked rather than to challenge what is being said and a fear of being seen as aggressive or bossy. This can lead to others getting credit for your ideas and work or not asking the right questions for fear of sounding stupid. It is ok to be wrong sometimes, or admitting that you need more information or don’t understand what is being said and you can disagree or contradict someone without being disagreeable. If you have something of value to add to a conversation, then you need to speak up and take chances. You need to make your presence known in a meeting. Unless you speak up, no one will know just how valuable you are to the team.

Amy Vulpio, Partner, Financial Restructuring and Bankruptcy

The best piece of advice that I have received is that "perfect is the enemy of good." Perfectionism can really hold you back if you are self-doubting and afraid to share an idea or agonize over details that no one will notice or care about besides you. Put yourself out there and even if you make a mistake, it will be a learning experience.

Shannon Warren, Associate, Subrogation 

Almost everything is subject to argument or negotiation. You can exercise a great deal of creativity when practicing law. Contracts and settlement agreements may seem mundane, but have fun using your creativity to maximize your client’s position.

Read more from our women lawyers about their careers and advice for young women.

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