As a young lawyer, Aylix Jensen (Attorney at Moss & Barnett) was concerned that she would be overlooked and undervalued due to her age and gender. Now she shares her tried and true tips for building credibility at work.
About six years ago, at the age of 26, I completed a judicial clerkship and started my legal career. As a young lawyer in a fast-paced Minneapolis law firm, I noticed very quickly that this new and exciting experience could come with a major challenge: establishing credibility.
As a young lawyer, I was concerned that clients would have a preconceived notion about me based on my gender and age. Particularly because my colleagues in other firms had warned me that they did not receive the same recognition and deference as their older male counterparts. I realized that in order to navigate this potentially biased legal landscape, I needed to learn how to establish credibility as a young, female lawyer.
Here are some things that I did (and continue to do) to earn respect and credibility:
1. Let Your Work Speak for Itself
One of the simplest ways to establish credibility is to let your work speak for you. Exceptional work product not only demonstrates competence and expertise, but it is also a key factor in earning respect and trust. When your work consistently demonstrates excellence, your colleagues and clients are more likely to take notice of your capabilities. This heightened visibility can help you showcase your legal knowledge and overcome age and gender biases.
2. Establish Your Personal Brand
Another useful tool for establishing credibility is to create a strong identity for yourself. This can look like a lot of different things, but for me, it consists of regularly sharing knowledge and insight with others in the industry through newsletters, podcasts, and providing commentary on new legal trends and developments. Sharing your experience and knowledge not only demonstrates your understanding, but can also help establish you as a thought leader in your industry, which in turn builds credibility. A well-defined personal brand can also shift the emphasis away from age and gender stereotypes and force others to view you based on your character and abilities.
Lastly, but perhaps most important, is to network. This was the most challenging for me as an introvert. The thought of attending large conferences and initiating conversations has often felt overwhelming and slightly daunting. However, I’ve come to realize that once you move past the initial hurdles, networking is an extremely effective and rewarding tool for establishing credibility. It can provide opportunities to interact and collaborate with others in your industry, which can help shape the way you are perceived. Also, having a robust professional network (specifically of other women in the same industry) provides access to a wealth of experience and knowledge, which is invaluable during your early career.
Don’t Give Up
Establishing credibility is a long process that requires time, determination, and a lot of self-compassion. It is important to be patient and give yourself time to get comfortable in your own skin. I’ve learned that it’s an ongoing process but that through consistent effort and a commitment to breaking down age and gender biases, young women can earn the respect and credibility that they deserve.
Moss & Barnett is a generous sponsor of Women in Consumer Finance. They support the personal and professional development of women in financial services and beyond.