DRI's version of the View has just taken center stage and they are conversing about women's initiatives in the small, medium, and large size firms. The dynamic trifecta proved well-accomplished, well-respected, and each a true leader in her respective firm, community, and DRI.
This blockbuster panel gave us a host of ideas on how to foster women initiatives at our respective firms.
The ideas included:
Increase the number of female lawyers in the firm. There is strength in numbers and this seems to be key across the board, regardless of firm size.
Refer business to your fellow female lawyers intra-firm and inter-firm.
Flexibility is key to retention in small firms. In contrast, large firms are focusing on the finances and business development second to flex schedules, etc. Money is power at the big firms.
Our mid-firm representative discussed her firm's establishment of a Women's Advisory Council made up of equity women leaders in the firm.
Conduct womens' retreats to promote internal marketing and mentoring among the 130 women lawyers between 11 offices of the mid-size law firm represented by the panel.
Small firms set long term goals to build momentum and continuity within the initiative. They also recognize achievements when the long terms goals are met.
Some of the challenges to such initiatives include:
Maintaining morale, momentum, and mentoring proves difficult with these initiatives.
The small firms lack resources, e.g., funding, and lack depth of expertise, e.g., someone to prepare the newsletter.
We were encouraged by the number of women lead law firms represented by the seminar attendees and even more empowered by the number of attendees who worked at firms with management/executive committees staffed by at least one female lawyer. Hopefully, those numbers will continue to grow!
At lunch, we also touched on this subject and were reminded by Keri Bush that DRI recently prepared a White Paper on Retaining Female Lawyers-- yet another resource on this topic.
Marisa A. Trasatti
Semmes Bowen & Semmes