Achieving Success in the Legal Profession: Women Helping Women
The National Association of Women Lawyers (“NAWL”) is 115 years old this year. It is not only the oldest women’s bar association, it is also the only national bar association for women, dedicated to advancing women lawyers and the interests and rights of women under the law. NAWL truly is the voice of women in the law™.
As the voice of women in the law, in 2006, NAWL challenged corporations and law firms to double their number of women general counsel and equity partners from 15% to 30% by 2015. Recent statistics indicate that the “NAWL Challenge” for corporate legal departments in Fortune 500 corporations is close to being met. Women today comprise close to 30% of General Counsels, when only a few years ago they comprised only 15% of the General Counsels in the same companies. This achievement is in sharp contrast to the fate of women lawyers in the 200 largest U.S. law firms (“AmLaw 200”), where women have stagnated at 17% or less of those law firms’ equity partners since NAWL’s annual survey of the advancement of women lawyers began.
To be sure, there are thousands of women lawyers in this country in many different practice settings who have advanced, are leaders, and love the practice of law. I am one of them and have spent almost 35 years loving what I do as a professional each and every day. Many of NAWL’s leaders and members have similar feelings. As an organization, NAWL brings those lawyers together whenever it can to share their experiences with younger lawyers and impart views as to how the practice of law can be a nurturing professional experience for women, and one in which they can achieve whatever success they desire.
This year’s NAWL Annual Meeting on July 24-25, 2013, at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York, brings together the remarkable attorneys who are the NAWL Annual honorees; an exceptional series of CLE programs that will benefit younger lawyers in their career development, to more senior lawyers, in theirs; and networking opportunities that will help lawyers advance in their careers and defy the statistics.
The Annual Meeting is the culmination of a year in which NAWL presented its three major national programs—the 8th Annual General Counsel Institute, its Mid-Year Meeting and now the Annual Meeting—and several regional programs, all designed around the central theme of what women lawyers in different practice settings, at different stages of their careers, need to advance into the upper echelons of the legal profession. At the Annual Meeting, NAWL will honor lawyers who have advanced women and women lawyers in a variety of ways: Yale Law School Professor Judith Resnik, for her work in advancing women and women lawyers in the justice system; Sheila Kearney Davidson and the corporate law department that she heads (New York Life Insurance Company), for their work together in advancing women lawyers in the corporate setting; Veta Richardson, for her tireless work in promoting diversity in the legal profession; Catherine Douglass, founder of inMotion, for her inspirational work in helping women under the law; Daniel Goldstein, for the example he sets for all by his devotion to the advancement of women in the corporate setting; and four outstanding members of NAWL—April Boyer, Sandra Cassidy, Jennifer Champlin and Elizabeth Levy—for their hard work in helping NAWL provide its members, and women lawyers across the country, with the skills and strategies they need to chart their own course and reach the highest echelons of the profession.
The July 25th Annual Meeting will conclude with a networking reception with a philanthropic bent (a NAWL Night of Giving), which will benefit inMotion and its remarkable efforts on behalf of victims of domestic violence. The Annual Meeting events will be preceded by an afternoon of NAWL committee and practice group meetings on July 24th. The two-day event will bring together women lawyers from across the country and will inspire them in their efforts to achieve what they aspire to in their own careers and to help their colleagues, and those coming along behind them, in achieving their own aspirations.