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Lessons From, and Cheers for, a Blawger Who'll be Doing What She Loves

Before this past Saturday, I'd guess that every law blogger and law blog reader had at least heard of Denise Howell, if not read her blog, Bag and Baggage. Among other things, Denise coined the term "blawg" to designate a law-related Weblog and wrote the first article that I'd ever read about lawyers and blogging over four years ago, a veritable century in Internet time. But until Saturday, you may not have heard of Reed Smith, which, undoubtedly, would prefer to be recognized as a top 25 global law firm but, at least for now, will forever be known as the firm that dumped Denise Howell, one of blawging's greatest talents. 

In her post Saturday, Denise offers her thoughts on Biglaw practice, balancing work and family and the importance of doing what you love. Denise wonders whether firms are willing to put teeth into their work-family balance programs and also writes about her plans for the future:   

My professional roadmap henceforth will involve only things that are washed through a stringent "how much do I really love that" filter.

Denise's posts triggered an outpouring of support and discussion from blogging's biggest names (of course, what would you expect from the a lawyer whose fans and friends organized an online baby shower?). Ernie the Attorney offers these thoughts:

I think more people are starting to discover this filter.  Certainly, that's true for a lot of people in post-Katrina New Orleans.  As the Yaqui sorcerer used to remind Carlos Castendeda, "you must remember that death is stalking you."  We dont' really have time to do things that aren't supremely meaningful and enjoyable to us.  We barely have time for the things that matter most, and time is always running out. 

And Gerry Riskin comments that Denise's post (and Ernie's follow-up) serve as a reminder that law firms must do much more if they want to retain good people and truly prosper.   

On the topic of women at law firms, Work Place Prof Blog chimes in that Denise's experience shows that women continue to lose their jobs because employers cannot put together sensible workplace flexibility policies. As for Dennis Kennedy, he is flummoxed by the decision.

Over the next few days, expect more commentary on Denise's post and topics like law firm work balance policies and gaining satisfaction in the practice of law. I have no doubt that Denise Howell will go on to a career far bigger and better than Reed Smith could have ever provided. What few in our profession realize is that our most talented lawyers' stars burn too bright for Biglaw. For Reed Smith, however, its options diminish. Because if you're a talented woman planning on having kids, why in the world would you EVER choose to work there?   

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on July 17, 2006 at 04:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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