Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing ‘Liz’. A Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Coordinator at one of the leading communications law firms in New York City, and a working mother, I talked to Liz about the legal field and what leadership means to her.
Tell me about Continuing Legal Education. What does it entail?
Continuing Legal Education for attorneys. New York State requires that attorneys complete a minimum of 24 credits every two years in order to keep their legal skills sharp and to be sure that they are kept abreast of changes in the law in addition to having exposure to areas outside of their individual practice areas.
What attracted you to the legal field?
When in college, business law was a required course and my professor was a woman who just had twins and went back to law school.
And she is still admitted today in 2009 because I looked her up on the New York State bar.
Did you speak to her individually or did you appreciate her determination?
Yes. I appreciated her determination. Also, learning fundamental basic business law I discovered that nothing happens in this country without going through the legal system at some juncture. Lawyers control the U.S. Not corporations because corporations get their advice from lawyers who tell them what they can and cannot do.
Wow! So that being said, how would you describe your experience raising two children, as a single parent, and working in the legal field?
As an assistant, and I guess timing has a lot to do with it because the technology has developed over the years, I was always able to learn new software and by having more skills I was always able to do overtime and/or transfer to a different position that paid more. I’ve been doing this since the 1980’s.
Would you say that you taking the initiative to keep learning, made a difference in your success?
Exactly! Always learning new software, and also by freelancing and also temping, I’ve worked at at least 20 law firms through the years and I’ve been exposed to different practice areas and technologies.
Would you have any advice for women who were interested in CLE management?
Learn the state’s requirements, attend as many conferences as possible so that you can network with other professional development personnel, and understand that each law firm has a limited number of positions in professional development. The area is growing. Networking and familiarity with your state’s requirements and learning other states requirements is most helpful.
I’m going to change direction a little.
What does leadership mean to you?
Being able to maximize the ability of people under you and to make them work together. The best leaders do not micromanage. They stay focused on the big picture. Good leaders also have the ability to spot weaknesses or potential weaknesses in the organization and be able to quickly address those weaknesses.
Do you believe leaders are born or made and why?
I believe both. Born leaders have innate management and organizational skills. Similar to parenting! (Laughter.) But a leader can be taught how to organize, prioritize, and interact efficiently with their staff and peers.
Many people link leaders to motivators. Who or what motivates you?
Lunch! (More laughter.) New problems, challenges, and unusual projects motivate me.
How would you describe your personal brand? Is it complete or a work in progress? Have you ever even though about it?
It’s a work in progress. I would like my personal brand to be multi-cultural as well as cross-generational.
Well said. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
No. But if I think of something I’ll text you!
Thank you for your time.