Tag Archives: legal profession

Should I Be Improving My Golf Swing?

30 Jan

The other day I had the opportunity to go out to lunch with a very prominent, hard-hitting attorney. While I was nervous about having to sit across from him and think of intellectual and witty things to say for an hour, I was excited about the insight he could give me into the legal profession. While we talked about a wide variety of different things, one thing really stood out to me. He was telling me about the process of closing a deal and how exhausted you and the client can be after the long hours you put in. He then told me that the best thing an attorney can do with their client after closing a deal is to take the client to the golf course for some beers. At first I thought nothing of this, but when I sat down at my desk after lunch it hit me. I don’t know how to play golf! This made me wonder if I needed to know how to play golf to succeed in my career and whether learning to play golf was in essence giving in to the so-called stereotype that we have to act like men to succeed.

When I think of golfing I think of Tiger Woods, men in Polo shirts and khaki pants, The Masters, Tiger Woods, EXTREME boredom, and oh, did I mention Tiger Woods? If that doesn’t show you how ignorant I am about golf then I don’t know what will. Basically golf has never been a part of my life and it has never been something that I thought about taking up in my spare time. Now I am second guessing my decision to stay away from the golf course. I can see how being able to take a client out to golf could better serve your relationship than simply taking the client to dinner or lunch. On the golf course there is more free-flowing conversation and there is some ease and relaxation in the environment. I can only imagine how much you can learn about your client in the four hours it takes to golf as compared to the one hour you spend at dinner. So I do see the benefits of knowing how to golf in the professional sense. I don’t, as some women do, think that learning how to play golf is the same as selling out. Sure, golf is manly and is not something that most business women usually do, but I do think that some manly, non-traditional things can be good for a business woman. Why not learn how to golf?

The question I really have is whether or not men like to golf with business women. Would my male client really enjoy spending an entire Saturday afternoon with me on the golf course, or would he prefer that he spend that time with a male? While I would like to think that a man would have just as much fun golfing with a woman, I tend to think that they wouldn’t. I cannot imagine my husband golfing with a female all Saturday afternoon. I know that would not be something he would look forward to, and it is understandable. Would I have more fun shopping with a male or female? Easy – a female (as long as she likes to shop). So if the men don’t like spending time with women on the golf course, is it even worth learning?

It seems to me that learning to golf could never hurt. I do know a few women that golf in their spare time and actually enjoy it. Do you know how to golf and have you found that knowing how to golf helps you in your career? Do you think a woman who learns how to golf is selling out?

How to Appear Older Than You Are

25 Jan

Hearing that you look young would be flattering if you were fifty-years-old. It is not so flattering when you are a twenty-something trying to make a name for yourself in your career. When I hear the word “young” associated with anything work related I automatically assume that the person making the statement thinks that I am incapable. Let’s face it, looking too young at work can result in withheld job offers, lost promotions, or even rivalries with your older colleagues. 

 I am one of those people who has always looked really young. I am not short or rail thin, I just have a baby face. When I was in high school I looked like a junior high student, when I was in college I got carded for Rated R movies, and just the other day I had a client whom I had been meeting with ask me, “So, are you thinking of getting into the legal profession?” No matter what I do (change my hair style, color my hair, wear more makeup, or dress differently), I look young. I used to get really offended when people would suggest that I looked too young to be working, but I have learned to deal with it. I mean, what can I really do? One can only change themselves so much to try to appear older.

I have learned, as the lady’s comment suggests, that simply wearing a nice, tailored suit and a cute pair of professional heels does not automatically give others the impression that you are a old enough to be trusted. However, it does help. Imagine if I had walked into that meeting with a pair of jeans and a sweater on? What would that woman’s comment have been then? While the way you dress is important, I think it is more important to learn how to carry yourself in a way that earns other people’s respect. In essence, you want to appear mature enough to make people think that you have experience. This means that you can’t use slang words, incomplete sentences, or say “cool” after someone says something to you (I have caught myself doing that before). Having the actual experience is not really the issue, it is appearing to have the experience that matters. A woman could have all the experience in the world but behavior like a teenager, and as a result, be perceived as someone with less experience.  

So how does someone appear more mature? Outside of speaking like an adult, try to really pay attention to the way you walk, talk, and associate with others in your office. I was once told by an old boss that my confidence and my ability to speak clearly to others made me appear older than I was. Now I know that confidence and the ability to speak in front of others is not easily taught, but one can try. Have you ever noticed that the older, more seasoned professionals always seem confident in everything that they do and say (at least the successful ones)?  Do you know someone in your life who is just bursting at the seams with confidence? I do, and I usually find myself being drawn to them. Confident people have such an excitement and enthusiasm that make others feel confident, and who doesn’t like to feel confident? Exuding confidence in whatever you do will make those around you remember you for being confident, not too young. If you are having a hard time feeling confident, I have learned to fake it. Our mind is a magical tool, and if you tell it something long enough it will believe it. Try saying “I am smart,” “I can do this,” or “You got this [Insert Name Here]” every morning and see if it makes you feel better about yourself. I bet it will.

Another sure-fire way to silence those who think you are incapable is to perform, and perform well. This requires you to work hard and know your stuff. Some of the best advice I ever received was to tell someone that I would think about their question and get back to them if I didn’t know the answer. A lot of us younger folks feel pressured to always provide an answer on the spot, but your boss doesn’t want you to have word-vomit and say everything that is on your mind. Your boss wants a well thought out answer that will point him/her in the right direction. So, know your stuff, and if you don’t know it don’t fake it.

Lastly, remember that age will only cause problems in your career if you let it. Be positive and try to embrace your youngness, one day your looks will catch up with your age!