Women in Law Leadership Academy Continues Year of the Summit
By Griselda Vega and Rachel Reingold Mandel
Rachel Reingold Mandel practices with the firm of Tyler Cooper & Alcorn, LLP, in New Haven, Connecticut.
As the “Year of the Summit” continues, the ABA YLD partnered with the Commission on Women in the Profession (CWIP) to sponsor the Women in Law Leadership (WILL) Academy on November 8–9, 2007, in Chicago, Illinois. The third annual Academy provided women with practical advice from successful lawyers on how to direct and manage their careers through networking, gaining knowledge, and finding mentors. The vision of the Academy is to gather key women leaders in the legal profession who can share their wisdom and experience with young women and empower them with the tools necessary to overcome obstacles and create successful careers. ABA YLD members of the committee worked closely with CWIP members since the winter of 2006 to line up an incredible list of speakers and panelists for the Academy. This collaborative effort between the ABA YLD and CWIP provided the opportunity for the two groups to pool their resources and contacts and assemble a wide range of speakers and participants to create a successful conference.
The Academy conference began with an enthusiastic welcome by the Honorable Elizabeth S. Stong, Chair of the Academy. The energy of Judge Stong was then matched by the keynote speaker, Paula Boggs, General Counsel of Starbucks, who encouraged attendees to treat everyone with respect and kindness (her job at Starbucks is in part thanks to her kind treatment of the mailroom clerk at her old firm!). Attendees next headed to a panel discussion about how to find and be a great mentor, in which panel members offered varied perspectives of two law firm partners, an assistant general counsel, and a diversity officer. One panel member shared the following advice that she gave to a protégé: when frustrated at work, female attorneys should ask themselves, “what would Bob do,” to give themselves the perspective on what their quintessential male counterparts would do in the same situation.
Now equipped with great advice, attendees headed to their choice of two breakout meetings—one focused on developing women’s initiatives in the workplace, the other on how to gain clients and develop business relationships. After the breakout meetings, attendees came back together for a keynote luncheon at which they heard inspiring words from the Honorable Ann Claire Williams. Judge Williams recounted her own experience of ending up in law school nearly by chance, working her way up in the prosecutor’s office, and becoming a federal judge at a very young age. She implored Academy attendees to “just say yes,” a strategy that has led her to an exciting and successful career.
Motivated by Judge Williams’ story, attendees heard from a networking expert about how to enjoy networking and use it to develop new business relationships. The session offered such practical advice as how to have an effective handshake and where to place a nametag at a professional function.
After a brief afternoon break, attendees heard words of wisdom from three women with extensive experience as general counsels of major corporations. The panelists spoke about what traits they look for in junior in-house attorneys, as well as what they expect from the external counsel they retain for their companies. The first day of the Academy rounded out with a networking reception honoring women corporate counsel and an evening dessert reception.
Day Two of the Academy began with a networking breakfast during which attendees from all over the country mingled and discussed their varied practices. They then engaged in self-evaluations during a career and leadership planning workshop. Led by a specialist in professional development, attendees identified their individual career goals and planned active steps for achieving those objectives. Armed with the tools to realize their goals, attendees headed into the final substantive session of the Academy, in which they learned how to negotiate effectively. An expert in alternative dispute resolution broke down the steps to successful negotiating, including identifying your goal and the reasons for that goal.
The Academy culminated with a luncheon at which Kathleen Kennedy Townsend shared personal stories about being a woman who is passionate about her legal and political work in a family dominated by powerful male politicians.
Attendees left the Academy inspired to be the most effective attorneys and leaders they can be and motivated by the knowledge that as female attorneys they are not alone.
If you or your affiliate would like more information on WILL or would like to share your thoughts, please visit www.abanet.org/yld/summits.
Stars of the Quarter were given out at the ABA YLD 2007 Fall Conference in Charlotte to recognize the hard work and dedication of several outstanding young lawyers:
• Heather Anson, Oro Valley, Arizona, for recording a website training teleconference and filming videos of Council members;
• Danielle Barger, San Diego, California, for drafting estate planning document templates for the California implementation of the “Wills for Heroes” program;
• Chris Fortier, Vienna, Virginia, for writing articles for the 101 Practice Series and reinvigorating the Public Utilities, Telecommunications, and Transportation Committee; and
• Seth Levy, Los Angeles, California, for his assistance in planning the ABA YLD Midyear and Annual Meetings.