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Women and the Law NewsletterThe newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Women and the Law

December 2009, vol. 15, no. 2

Seek power: A woman lawyer’s guide to self-promotion

On October 20, 2009, Paula Hudson Holderman and Delilah B. Flaum, of Winston & Strawn coached more than 100 women lawyers on how to get over the “anti-networking” mindset and formulate a plan that will lead them to a more fulfilling career. 

Paula and Delilah addressed common misconceptions about networking by taking cues from the participants. We learned that networking is not about glad handing or pushy selling. Rather, it is about identifying alliances and gathering resources to help you succeed. There are five core networking skills: (1) become an effective communicator; (2) develop rapport and leverage that into business and clients; (3) maintain and expand your areas of expertise and interest; (4) market those areas; and (5) expand your connections. I found Paula and Delilah’s most valuable message to be “good networkers are women who are real and have a genuine interest.”

During the program, we also learned the mechanics of developing a 30-second elevator speech. At first I was a bit skeptical of the value of having a pre-scripted speech already developed in which you explain your work and ask for business. I ride the elevator between four and six times a day just by going to work, court, and home. Most times I try to avoid “small talk” or I am preoccupied with other things. Yet each time that I am on an elevator, I am missing an opportunity to expand my connections or at least learn something new about those around me. It was quite impressive to listen to over 20 attorneys practice their individual pitch for business referrals, for support in an upcoming election, for a governmental promotion, and for job leads. The group exercise definitely made me realize the importance of a powerful 30-second elevator speech and it is now on my “to-do” list.

After the program, I was inspired and ready to tackle my personal networking action plan. Unfortunately, over a month has passed and my bio is still outdated. Yet, I have been able to reconnect with one former college classmate for lunch, a sorority sister for dinner during an unexpected trip to Georgia, and two Pace Law School classmates over the telephone. Who knew that networking could be fun? The hard part—keeping up the routine every month.

Paula and Delilah’s strategies for getting started in the world of networking

• Update your bio—consider including a photo.

• Identify your network. (Resource: A Lawyer’s Guide to Networking, ABA YLD and ABA-CLE Resource Center, Susan R. Sneider, 2006).

• Select four people to reconnect with within a month.

• Keep up the routine every month.

• Identify one topic of interest or publication to write an article.

• Identify one speaking opportunity.

• Join or become truly involved in one organization.

Adapted from strategies recommended by Paula Hudson Holderman and Delilah Flaum.

Additional Resources

• The Law Firm Associate’s Guide to Connecting with Your Colleagues, ABA Law Practice Management, 2009

• A Lawyer’s Guide to Networking, ABA YLD and ABA-CLE Resource Center, Susan R. Sneider, 2006

• Rainmaking: A Professional’s Guide to Attracting New Clients, Ford Harding, 1994

• The Opportunity Maker: Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career Through Creative Networking and Business Development, Ari Kaplan, 2008

• The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success, Essential Tips to Power Your Practice, Reid F. Trautz and Dan Pinnington, ABA Law Practice Management, 2009

• Personal Marketing and Selling Skills, ABA Law Practice Management, Carrie Alman MacDonagh and Beth Marie Cuzzone, 2007

• Little Black Book of Connections – for Networking Your Way to RICH Relationships, Jeffrey Gitomer, Bard Press, 2006

• Raindance: Rainmaking Skills for Women Lawyers, ABA DVD package, 2003

• Social Networking: Not Just for Youngsters Anymore, ABA, Clifton Barnes, 2009

• A Skeptic’s Guide to Networking: Some Assembly Required, ABA, Dan R. Wise, 2009

• Networking Effectively and Ethically, ABA, Audio CD, 2009 ■


Emily N. Masalski is a member of the Standing Committee on Women & the Law and the 2009-2010 Coordinator of the ABA YLD Touch 10,000 Pilot Program which connects YLD leaders with new bar admittees. She is an environmental litigation associate at Deutsch, Levy & Engel, Chtd. and may be reached at

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