Although the women associate ranks in many midsize and large firms throughout the country continue to increase, only 21 percent of women attorneys working in those firms eventually make it to equity partner. Women associates must think critically about what we want out of our careers and take ownership over defining and achieving personal success. This requires women associates to be introspective and strategic about our career paths at our firms. To this end, we propose a few questions and solutions that women associates should consider asking to promote meaningful discourse between themselves and their firms, with the goal of advancing more women to equity partnership.

  • What do I want out of my career?

The Greek philosopher Epictetus wrote: “first say to yourself what you would be, and then do what you have to do.” Women associates must take a similar approach; we must first decide what we want out of our careers, and then determine what small goals we can set—and achieve—to reach that greater objective. For many of us, we want to make it to partnership. But the inquiry does not end there. We should envision what our practice will look like, and what we need to do to create it. In what area, specifically, will we focus? Who will our clients be? Who can we ask for advice? The ability to answer these questions now, even if partnership may be a long way off, will help us keep perspective on the concrete actions we can take in the short term to set ourselves up for greater success in the future.

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