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AGENDA: Thursday, May 16, 2019

07:30 AM
08:30 AM
Fostering Diversity and a Culture of Inclusion within Legal Leadership

There is a clear business case for expanding diversity within the ranks of an organization. Starting at the top: when 25% or more of management and/or board members are women, profit and retention of an organization rises. General counsel and in-house counsel can have a direct impact by not only fostering an inclusive culture within their department, but also by committing to hiring law firms that employ and promote women and minorities.

This panel will explore:

  • How to take advantage of the current landscape to create change
  • What individual counsel can do to affect organizational culture
  • The important role law firms play in improving legal diversity:
    • The impact on corporate diversity
    • More diverse partners & retention

09:15 AM
Dealing with Unconscious Bias & Discrimination

Whether discrimination comes from overt prejudice or unconscious bias, minorities and women are not receiving equal opportunities or treatment when it comes to landing in-house counsel positions, earning promotions, or making partner in a law firm. In fact, the impact of unconscious bias can be insidious and underestimated or rationalized too easily. How can lawyers identify their own unconscious biases and overcome discrimination when it affects them directly?

This panel will explore:

  • The types of unconscious bias to look out for:
    • Power of language
    • Institutional bias
    • Ignorance and education
  • How to approach:
    • Managers
    • Peers
    • Direct reports
  • When an official approach is needed – reporting bias

10:00 AM
Succeeding in a Straight White Male-Dominant Legal Field – A Re-Education in Professionalism

For many women and minorities in the legal field, tradition and culture often mean that they are the only woman or minority in the room or office. This can create many challenges, including underestimation, intimidation, stereotyping, and even condescension. Their opinion may be overlooked when discussing a case, they may be underpaid compared to equally qualified straight/male/Caucasian lawyers, and their additional responsibilities to their family or community may go unrecognized. As contradictory as it may sound, this is why it is even more important for these lawyers to uphold impeccable standards of professionalism.

Per the 1989 Order that enacted The Texas Lawyer’s Creed – A Mandate of Professionalism, “The conduct of a lawyer should be characterized at times by honesty, candor, and fairness.” Capitulating to the historically stifling, discriminatory culture of the legal profession is to subvert this Order. Hiding one’s identity, as many LGBTQ lawyers do, is both dishonest and ethically wrong, as doing so perpetuates inequality and discrimination. “Staying on the sidelines” and refusing to self-advocate is failing to uphold the pillar of candor. And passing up opportunities to support women and minorities and to advocate for change is an affront to the standard of fairness—a standard that forms the bedrock of the legal profession.

This panel offers a micro-study for female and minority lawyers by offering insight into how to leverage the standards of professionalism to create change in what has traditionally been a straight white male-dominated environment.


10:45 AM
11:25 AM
Sponsors, Influencers & Career Engineering for Legal Counsel

To create a rewarding legal career, one must seek out challenging and visible professional opportunities: getting on the right case, satisfying the important client, winning the big settlement. For women and minorities, however, finding these opportunities often isn’t enough; effective sponsors and influencers are needed to help seize them.

Behind closed doors, who is vouching for you and pushing your name forward for the opportunities you want? What can you do to strategically foster sponsors and influencers?

This panel will explore:

  • The importance of women and minorities in law
  • Differentiating sponsors from influencers
  • Redefining the “old boys network” in the legal profession
  • Identifying current and potential sponsors

12:10 PM
Self-Advocacy & Countering Personal Negation When Advancing a Legal Career

By now it’s fairly common knowledge: Women often do not apply for a job if they don’t check every box, whereas men regularly seek jobs for which they are only partially qualified. This is no less true in the legal profession, and applies to landing an entry-level associate position all the way up to being promoted to general counsel or making partner.

The reality is, as you advance in your legal career, you very rarely have all the skills, experience and capabilities that a new post will require. Instead, pursuing growth opportunities requires the confidence to see your own potential and enlist the right mentor to develop the necessary commercial awareness, analytical skills or litigation experience on the job, rather than waiting until you’re “perfectly prepared.”

This panel will explore:

  • How to position current success and experience
    • Let your cases speak for you
    • Make your manager your advocate
  • Dealing with rejection – every “no” means you are closer to a “yes”
  • Utilizing peer groups to enhance confidence
  • Panelist success stories

12:55 PM
01:25 PM
Dessert & Coffee Panel - Lessons Learned from Female & Minority Leaders, Litigators and Deal-Makers

Female and minority deal-makers, litigators and leaders have overcome challenges, preconceptions and prejudices that can provide valuable insights and lessons learned. In the current landscape more opportunities for women and minorities Female and minority deal-makers, litigators and leaders have overcome challenges, preconceptions and prejudices that can provide valuable insights and lessons learned. In the current landscape more opportunities for women and minorities could be opening up.  What skills will you need to advance your legal career today and the future?

This panel will explore:

  • What new opportunities exist for women and minority lawyers, and are there any others on the horizon?
  • How to develop the legal skills you need to seize those opportunities
    • Preparation: due diligence, choosing your team, getting management buy-in
    • Developing your story
    • Selecting witnesses
    • Identifying potential biases of counsel, witnesses, judges, jury members
    • Conducting mock trials


02:10 PM
Interview: My Journey and Lessons Learned - District Judge to In-House Counsel

02:50 PM
03:10 PM
Roundtable Discussions

Four rotating, 20-minute discussions hosted by a topic expert.

Roundtable 1: Sponsors, Influencers & Career Engineering 
Sandra Safro, Partner, K&L Gates 
Jamie Bryan,
 Partner, K&L Gates

Roundtable 2: Work-life Integration
Kelly Perrier,
Member, Gordon Arata Montgomery Barnett McCollam Duplantis & Eagan LLC (GAMB) 

Roundtable 3: Creating Positive Change within Your Organization
Amy Parker,
Partner, Bracewell LLP
Rebecca Baker,
 Partner, Bracewell LLP

Roundtable 4: Working Wiser: Practical Approaches to Speed Progress in Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Industry
Marlene Williams, 
Partner, Eversheds Sutherland

Click here for more info.

04:30 PM
Increasing Diversity at Law Firms: The Role We All Play

With less than 20% of female equity partners, law firms are under pressure to become more diverse. Combine that statistic with the fact that 52% of recent graduating classes are female and current associates are demanding change, and it is clear that law firms must transform or suffer consequences. What responsibility do both law firms and their clients have in creating a more diverse future? 

This panel will explore: 

  • What are the pressures that in-house counsel face when choosing a firm?
  • How to engage your current firm
  • How to show your clients that you are implementing change
  • How is credit given at law firms?
  • What responsibility do in-house counsel have in helping law firms become more diverse?
  • What can law firm do to become more diverse?

05:15 PM