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Our Women Partners Share Some Thoughts on Managing Your Image, Effective Communication, and Giving and Receiving Feedback

Partner Perspectives is a series of training programs designed to help associates build management skills by learning about the strategies and habits of highly effective managers within the Firm. Each program takes the form of a short, informal conversation between the presenting partner and a small group of associates.

Each partner presenter gives a brief presentation to start off the discussion, followed by an opportunity for associates to ask questions. Past topics have included: The Limits of Your Role as a Lawyer, Time Management and Effective Communications. Below is a sampling of quotes from our women partners that relate to the sessions they led.
Sharon Nelles: Managing Your Image/Perception
“Be cognizant of your professional image. If you do not manage your own image, others will. Your colleagues and your clients observe your behavior and make assessments about your competence and your commitment. These assessments, in turn, affect what responsibilities you are afforded, client satisfaction with your performance, and your career advancement. There is no right person to be. There is room for vastly different people at this Firm. You can be only who you are, so be the best possible version of yourself. But I note that the best possible version of yourself always puts away your BlackBerry during client meetings.”

Tracy Richelle High: Effective Communication (including Listening Skills)
“When you’re a junior associate, you sometimes feel like you can’t say that you are stumped or that you need help. Please do not feel that way. A strong person asks for help. The key, of course, is how you do it. You should not just say that you don’t know where to start and dump the issue on someone else’s lap. Instead, propose a solution and describe your reasoning—communicate that you have been thoughtful about the issue. Doing so shows that you are invested in finding a resolution and that you’re willing to roll up your sleeves to do so.”

Melissa Sawyer: Giving and Receiving Feedback
“What I want to emphasize on giving feedback is that this is one of the most important functions we have as lawyers at a law firm. I say that because the value of a firm is the value of its human capital, and that capital is only as good as you train it to be. Part of that training is to tell people when they do something well or poorly.
“I think the most important thing about receiving feedback is to be proactive in soliciting feedback. Receiving feedback sounds so passive, like you’re just supposed to wait for someone to call you and tell you how you’re doing. That’s not realistic because people here are busy. Not everyone gives debriefs or reviews after a deal signs as a matter of course, but don’t hesitate to ask for one.”

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