Insights and takeaways on effective communication, building relationships and becoming leaders

By NJSBA Staff posted 03-26-2019 09:32


NJSBA forum on women’s leadership in the law offered practical guidance

As a young woman, Liza Walsh’s mother, an Albanian immigrant with no formal education, asked her to explain the women’s movement. After providing a passionate explanation about the fight for women’s equality, Walsh’s mother replied: “Why would you want to lower yourself?”

That quip planted a seed of confidence in Walsh that eventually led her to become one of the state’s most sought after litigators and the founder of her own firm.

Inspiring anecdotes and insights like Walsh’s made this year’s New Jersey State Bar Association’s Women’s Leadership in the Law Forum a meaningful event. Over 100 lawyers, judges and other professionals took part in the program, which was held at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. 

The program featured Patricia Gillette, a nationally recognized author, rainmaker and communicator, as well as interactive workshop panels that aimed to provide women practical guidance on issues like asking for a raise, getting a leadership position, pitching business, and make the most of networking. It also featured an all-star panel of lawyers from private practice, state government and Prudential Financial, who shared what solutions are being employed to ensure women have an equal chance at leadership opportunities.

Here are some key takeaways from the program:

Make time for things you are passionate about.

You have to be selective in what you say yes to. We are all stressed and strapped for time. If there is something that you have passion for, that is what you say yes to. NJSBA Treasurer Jeralyn L. Lawrence, founder of Lawrence Law

Be a positive force of change.

Discrimination is alive and well. Don’t just hire or surround yourself with people you feel comfortable with. Tracy Thompson, acting New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prosecutor

Accept compliments.

Learn how to promote and talk about yourself and accept compliments and credit. Patricia Gillette

Get involved in the organized bar association.

You meet a lot of different people and you get opportunities you don’t normally get. NJSBA Trustee Christine Amalfe, Gibbons PC

Get out of the perfection business.

Don’t let perfection sabotage you. You don’t have to be perfect in order to be successful. Patricia Gillette

Build a wide variety of relationships.

Think of yourself always in a networking mode. Create a list, a diverse list, of people you can go to. Build those relationships. Ann Kappler, chief legal officer for corporate services, Prudential Financial

Act like you belong.

Whatever the situation is, act like you belong. And be nice to people. You just don’t know what will happen. Liza Walsh, founder of Walsh, Pizzi, O’Reilly, Falanga

Become a networking superhero.

Listen and really be interested in what someone is saying. Be authentic and try not to say anything about yourself unless asked. Patricia Gillette

Be strategic.

Offer your comments—positive or negative—to the right group and bring them up in a strategic way. Don’t complain about your family at work or work to your family and expect anything to change. Norberto Garcia, partner at Javerbaum Wurgaft.

Check out photos from the event here.