April 08, 2005

Mentorship, continual self evaluation, a positive attitude and ownership of one’s work are four keys to success in a young lawyer’s career, according to a recent Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago roundtable discussion hosted by Jenner & Block, and entitled “Career Benchmarks – Is your career on track?”

The panel, moderated by then Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenyanna M. Scott, included Associate Michelle Speller-Thurman, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Patricia  B. Holmes and Dorothy Capers, Deputy Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago.

Ms. Speller-Thurman suggested that, to achieve their potential, associates need to seek out mentors and frequently evaluate themselves.  “There is a process of internal evaluation” that is vital to professional growth, she said.

Judge Holmes said that senior lawyers look for junior lawyers with a “can do” attitude because it assures them that projects will be seen through to the end.  She also suggested that associates should not be discouraged when they make mistakes.

“Own what you’ve done,” Ms. Speller-Thurman said, adding that mistakes are “only human” but that learning from those incidents are an integral part of managing one’s career.