My AHA moment came when the company I worked at as in-house counsel promoted “Matt,” a lousy lawyer who gave the clients terrible advice ahead of me. Matt, unlike me, spoke up no matter how off base he was and built strong relationships.

I had always focused on the work (which I did very well) and never liked speaking up, but now it became a sticking point as I watched Matt get the accolades and corner office, I knew I deserved. 

Since having to report on Spain in 6th grade, where my dyslexia impacted my ability to pronounce words, I avoided public speaking. Then when I was in law school, my dream was to be an “ostrich lawyer” who stuck my head in the sand and just worked.

I wanted to keep my head down, churn out documents and not speak publicly. And when I graduated, I got my dream job to be a corporate lawyer who just documented deals. Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, my law firm blew that dream up. On my first day, the managing partner told me that I would be a litigator, not a corporate lawyer.

My heart sank.

When the law firm put me in a job where I would need to speak in court, I thought about quitting on the spot. But my mother, who had paid for my education, would have killed me if I didn’t stick it out.

So, I spent years making a pale impression of a litigator—avoiding assignments most want- like arguing in court or taking a deposition.

MY HEART SANG when I got my first role in-house, and I felt relaxed. I believed I was going to be that ostrich I dreamed of. And then the Matt promotion happened.

I realized as in-house counsel, it was even more important to “get out there” than in the law firm.

To get ahead, I needed to show leadership, executive presence, and have a solid network to advance in-house. I vowed to change no matter how difficult it was for me. And let me tell you, it was not always easy. I told myself, “Focus Forward” when it was tough, and that is what I did.

By the time Matt left the company, he reported to me. 

Today, in my consulting practice, I bring all of my experience (both from a law firm and in-house) to help attorneys who want to win the game but don’t understand the rules learn how to Make Your Power Move.

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