April 16, 2012 Articles

Strategies for “Getting, Using, and Keeping Power in the Legal Profession”

Leaders in the legal profession convened with academics and business leaders with the goal of advancing women in the legal profession.

By Kerry Murphy
[T]he glass ceiling still looms over us. Over the last 10 years the percentage of women general counsel and partners, both equity and nonequity, have remained virtually unchanged. . . . In the twenty-first century, this is simply unacceptable. Now is the time for each of us to assert our power and transform the profession for ourselves and for future generations of women lawyers.

–Roberta Liebenberg, Philadelphia attorney and former chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession

Ms. Liebenberg made the above call to action at the 2011 Power Summit on Law and Leadership. At the summit, hosted by the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas at Austin, 150 leaders in the legal profession, such as law firm managing partners, judges, general counsel, and law school deans, convened with academics and business leaders to examine power and leadership dynamics with the goal of advancing women in the legal profession. In January 2012, the Center for Women in Law published a white paper setting forth strategies for getting, using, and keeping power in legal institutions and identifies steps that women leaders today can take to accelerate the advancement of women in the legal profession. See Linda Bray Chanow and Lauren Stiller Rikleen, Center for Women in Law, Power in Law: Lessons from the 2011 Women’s Power Summit on Law and Leadership  (2012). The report asserts that power is part of leadership, and “if women are to make meaningful advances in the legal profession, they must therefore master the language and dynamics of power.”

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