Last week, the summer associates participated in a Federal Court Observer Program. Summer associates from the south Florida area shadowed attorneys during several hearings and participated in question and answer sessions. A moment that stands out is when a summer associate asked a thoughtful and brave question: “What tips do you have for the next generation of young women attorneys? How can we make sure we are excelling in our profession?”
The question reminded me of a book I read earlier this summer; one which the Women’s Book Club at Bilzin Sumberg recently read, as well – Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. Once a month, the women at Bilzin Sumberg discuss the book of the month and its characters, plot and message over lunch. In Lean In, Sheryl encourages women to seek leadership roles in the workplace by following her key messages. Many of the messages in her book have resonated with me during my summer at Bilzin Sumberg so far; in particular, Sheryl’s call to “sit at the table.”
Sheryl explains, “I still face situations that I fear are beyond my capabilities. I still have days when I feel like a fraud. But now I know how to take a deep breath and keep my hand up. I have learned to sit at the table.” Personally, there have been many instances this summer when I have made sure I am “sitting at the table.” Whether I am presenting a finished assignment to attorneys, speaking up to ask a question or participating in the Mock Real Estate transaction negotiations, as long as I am sitting at the table, I ensure I make the most of my summer at Bilzin Sumberg and, in turn, that Bilzin Sumberg is getting the best me possible.
I guess there is no clear answer to my fellow summer associate’s question, but I think Sheryl’s message — don’t just show up, make sure you are sitting at the table — is a good place to start.