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AGENDA: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

07:30 AM
08:30 AM
Increasing Diversity In-house & at Law Firms: The Role We All Play

According to McKinsey & Company, the Harvard Business Review and many other highly respected institutions, companies that commit themselves to diverse leadership are more successful and more profitable. There is a growing body of evidence in favor of diversity and inclusion, finding that gender parity and racial diversity, particularly in decision-making roles, has a meaningful impact on a company’s innovation, productivity, and profitability. This is not breaking news. Why then is the legal field still lagging behind? What is the answer to solving the diversity issue at law firms? The answer is that there is no single answer. Change will happen when the issue is pushed by both the law firm and the client.

This panel will explore:

  • How can In-house counsel have a direct impact?
    • Fostering an inclusive culture within their departments
    • Committing to hiring law firms that employ and promote women and minorities
  • What steps can law firms take to ensure the firm’s succession plan is gender neutral?
    • Re-thinking the allocation of origination credit
    • Instituting a gender-diverse committee
    • Third-party oversight of the firm’s practices
  • What can individual counsel do to affect organizational culture?

09:15 AM
Integrating Professional, Domestic & Self-Care (Work-Life Balance)

Whether working at a large firm or in-house, the demands of the legal profession can be overwhelming. This holds true even if a firm or company has progressive family-friendly policies such as flex time and paid parental leave. In fact, many women lawyers find that when they do take advantage of something like flex time, they feel they are marginalized onto a “mommy track” and penalized at compensation time.

This panel will explore strategies to achieve greater personal & professional balance:

  • Self-representation: Generating awareness and setting boundaries at work
  • How can companies and firms create new policies that address the need for more balance? Forward-thinking companies know this helps to attract and retain the best talent.
    • Promoting teamwork through a collaborative partner compensation model that still meets the demands of clients while creating more space to have a life outside the office.
  • Since work/life balance is different for everyone, identifying the right work/life balance for you, and then taking the necessary steps to achieve your optimal structure. 

10:00 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

10:45 AM
11:25 AM
Cultivating Male Allies & Change Agents

Rarely do we see inclusion strategies that stress the need to include, listen to, and work with the dominant group — the group that is seeing its preeminence questioned. However, leadership/guidance is most needed in helping today’s dominant group embrace tomorrow’s reality. While it goes without question that women and minorities in positions of power must help others to move the needle, a better approach may be to engage everyone in bringing about change.

Further, when it comes to career advancement, it is important to have multiple and diverse advocates. When it comes to women’s advancement, men matter. The reality is that women occupy only 21% of senior business roles in the U.S. and 22% globally, making men some of the most powerful stakeholders in leading corporations. The percentages are even lower for women in equity partnership positions in law firms. Efforts to bridge identity barriers are essential.

This panel will explore:

  • Identifying Male Allies
  • Developing an engagement strategy
  • How can you self-advocate in order to get buy-in from others?
  • What can law firms and corporations do to help?
  • Tips and success stories from the panelists

12:10 PM
Challenging the Status Quo: Self-Advocacy, Career Development & Sponsorship

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 to develop the necessary commercial awareness, analytical skills or litigation experience on the job, rather than waiting until you’re “perfectly prepared.” It can also be of tremendous value to enlist the right mentors and sponsors who will vouch for you and push your name forward for the opportunities you want.

This panel will explore:

  • The meritocracy and why it cannot be relied on
  • The ASK: Asking for what you want and knowing why you deserve it
  • Dealing with rejection: Every “no” means you are closer to a “yes”
  • Differentiating sponsors from influencers and mentors
  • Cultivating potential sponsors
  • What are the best ways to advocate for ourselves and others?

12:55 PM
01:25 PM
Career Transitions: From Associate to Partner, Law Firm to In-house

Change — even positive change such as making partner - is never easy. While the title carries more respect, more responsibility comes with it.  Considering going from a law firm to an in-house counsel position? Making a move is more complicated than it seems. There are numerous differences between working in an in-house counsel role, as opposed to working at a law firm. Culture, salary, and workplace flexibility, are just a few of the many things to keep in mind.

This panel will explore:

  • Tips for new partners:
    • Learning how the business is managed and what is expected of you
    • How can you balance your practice with your new obligations?
    • Understanding your new compensation, benefits and tax structure
    • Keeping sight of your personal life
  • Tips for transitioning from a law firm to in-house:
    • Gaining insight into the company’s core business, initiatives and goals
    • Developing your business acumen in order to proactively offer legal solutions that advance and support the bottom line
    • Learning to work effectively with both the department and the business unit: Communication is key!

02:10 PM
Women of Color in Law: The Changing Landscape

Women of color are resolute in their determination to get ahead. Why then do so few minority women make it to equity partnership in Big Law (2.81%) or the C-suite of major corporations (3.9%)? Attrition among women of color is often cited as the reason for the lack of diversity in law. However, studies indicate that the real reason for attrition among women of color has to do with their perceptions of advancement opportunities compared to their male and female counterparts. And while awareness of this disparity is at an all-time high, and diversity initiatives are becoming more commonplace in both law firms and corporate America, progress is slow.

This panel will explore:

  • The challenges minority women face in the legal profession
  • Why should law firms and other employers care about retaining and advancing women of color?
  • Affinity groups and other resources
  • Success stories: Advice for young attorneys of color

02:55 PM
03:15 PM
Roundtable Discussions

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

Roundtable 1: Succeeding in a Male Dominated Environment
Jennifer Marino,
Partner, Litchfield Cavo LLP

Roundtable 2: Work-Life Integration

Roundtable 3: Self-Advocacy and Promotion

Roundtable 4: Dealing with Unconscious Bias

Click here for more info.

04:35 PM