By Caitlin Hendee Digital Producer / Social Engagement Manager- Denver Business Journal
For women in the law industry, there's a key difference between those who are more likely to succeed and those who are likely to fail, says Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP partner Kathryn Reilly.
For the women who want to succeed in such a highly-competitive (and also highly-stressful) career, failure means much more than things not going as expected, Reilly says. Rather, it means accepting failure as a necessity to learn and grow, and not relying solely on innate talent.
Reilly is one of the keynote speakers and panelists at the Colorado Women's Bar Association's upcoming "Grit Project: True Grit and a Growth Mindset" event in Boulder.
"Motivation is absolutely critical," Reilly said. "The grit and growth mindset … gives women practical tools to define success in their own way and apply their grit to succeed."
A study published in 2013 in the Women Lawyers Journal found that there is a significant relationship between grit (determination) and success for women in the profession, and it's that research that Reilly said will make a difference for women trying to obtain leadership roles in the industry.
"Women lawyers have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to maintaining a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset," Reilly said, describing a "fixed" mindset as one that believes only innate intelligence and talent determine success.
"[The] growth mindset understands that intelligence and talent are expandable ... and that you can become more talented and much smarter," she added.
Reilly said applying the growth mindset in her own career, such as when she started as a mid-level associate at a large Denver law firm with little experience in the industry, has helped her climb her way to her current position as partner.
"I hadn’t done many depositions ... My colleagues had much more experience and I was really intimidated," Reilly said. "The fixed mindset is really a voice in your head that says you don’t want to do it … but I did it and by the end of the year I was good at it, and that was because I kept trying."
Reilly said the Grit Project event is designed to help young female lawyers learn how to apply the philosophy in their own lives.
"[We want] to provide students with practical tips on how to apply them everyday ... what to do when you get into the nitty gritty of situations you face every day," Reilly said.