April 19, 2014

Women In-House Counsel Practice Resiliency

The National Association of Women Lawyers (“NAWL”) is a national voluntary legal professional organization devoted to promoting the interests and progress of women lawyers and women's legal rights.  Founded in 1899, long before most local and national bar associations admitted women, NAWL serves as an educational forum and an active voice for the concerns of women in the legal profession. NAWL is about solutions, both for workplace issues facing women lawyers and for societal problems confronting women in our nation and worldwide.  NAWL continues to support and advance the interests of women in and under the law, and in so doing, supports and advances the social, political, and professional empowerment of women. Through its programs and networks, NAWL provides the tools for women in the profession to advance, prosper and enrich the profession.

In 2006, NAWL challenged corporations and law firms to double the number of women general counsel and equity partners from 15% to 30% by 2015.  Recent statistics indicate that the number of women general counsels in the Fortune 500 hovers around 21% whereas women equity partners at the AmLaw 200 has remained stagnant at barely 15%.  We should be heartened by the success of women in corporate legal departments and wonder why women in the AmLaw 200 have not moved the needle at all, and in fact, have given up some ground.  The progress we have made has been buoyed by the women who came before who have mentored, sponsored and brought along those behind them.  It is also due to the fact that women are resilient.  It is that resiliency that NAWL will celebrate with its 9th Annual General Counsel Institute (“GCI”) that brings together senior in-house women lawyers to learn from each other, inspire each other and take away information that will help them achieve their professional, as well as personal, goals.

This year’s GCI, “Resilience:  Thriving as In-House Counsel in Changing Legal and Business Landscapes,” will be held at the Intercontinental Times Square hotel in New York City on November 7 and 8, 2013.  Highlights of the event include the plenary sessions:

  • Resilience – an interactive opening session acknowledging resilience in the present day, and beginning the process of harnessing that resilience for future success;

  • Thriving in the Face of Challenge – presented by a panel of successful general counsels;

  • The Fundamental and Fragile Bond:  Trust and the Modern Workplace – a panel discussion of the effect that trust, or a lack thereof, has on the advancement of women in the workplace based on research conducted by Catalyst; and

  • In-House Counsel in the Crosshairs, the story of Lauren Stevens, former Associate General Counsel of GlaxoSmithKline who was indicted on – and eventually exonerated of – claims of making false statements and obstruction of justice.

In addition to the plenary sessions, there will be three tracks of breakout sessions on topics critical to the success of in-house counsel:  Hot Topics; Training for New Terrain as In-House Counsel; and Being Brave in the New Legal and Regulatory World.  Participants will also be inspired by the powerful personal stories of resilience by luncheon keynote speakers Michelle Banks, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer of Gap Inc., and Liz Murray, author of Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey From Homeless to Harvard.

With its substantive legal workshops, the open exchange of ideas with senior lawyers facing similar challenges and the inspiration of the keynote speakers, participants will improve their skills, drive positive changes to their legal departments and not only survive, but thrive in a world that is constantly changing.  For more information on GCI9, visit

Copyright ®, 2013 National Association of Women Lawyers

About the Author

Deborah S. Froling, President of National Association of Women Lawyers
President of NAWL

Deborah S. Froling is the 2013-2014 President of the National Association of Women Lawyers and a member of Arent Fox’s Corporate & Securities and Real Estate groups. She has extensive experience in public and private offerings of debt, equity, and convertible securities as both issuer’s and underwriter’s counsel primarily for real estate companies. She also has extensive experience in the tenant in common syndication industry and the non-traded REIT, equipment finance, and oil and gas industries.


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