Successful business development comes naturally to some.  For those of us who aren’t so lucky, DRI has given us a great resource – the new e-book, “Women Rainmakers: Roadmap to Success.”

I was fortunate enough to co-author one chapter, but I am just as excited to be a reader for the other chapters.

Anne Cruz and I had the privilege of writing a chapter with insights from in-house counsel on how outside counsel can become more successful rainmakers. We talked with several in-house decision makers and received transcripts of interviews other WITL committee members had conducted.  From there, we did our best to let the dynamic in-house counsel interviewed tell the story.

The experience was incredibly insightful, and I hope we have translated what we learned into a digestible packet of information and tips for you. We posed the questions to in-house counsel that you can only really ask when you don’t already have an existing client relationship and aren’t actively trying to create one.  We had candid, thoughtful conversations with women who know exactly what it takes to get business from in-house counsel.

I was particularly impressed with the two women I interviewed, as both of them balanced a career-focused path to success with the wonders of motherhood and a happy home life. (I’m sure the other in-house counsel we featured in our chapter are equally impressive; I just didn’t personally have the good fortune to steal an hour of their time). They are successful in all aspects of their lives, and I walked away from our interviews with a great sense of admiration for them.

When I look back at my personal business development plan in 2014, talking with these women is at the top of my list of accomplishments. Not because I suddenly have work from them (I don’t, and that was never the point), but because they inspired me to want to do more.  Do more to understand the law. Do more to cultivate long-term relationships across the legal industry.  Do more at home.  Do more – just as they have done.

The chapter Anne and I wrote is just one of the many different chapters in the e-book, and each has tales and success stories from women equally inspiring.  I hope you read WITL's new publication and that it motivates you as much as working on it did for me.

Pre-order by November 21, 2014, and receive a complimentary download of the publication along with a CD version. 


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Categories: DRI Committees | Marketing | Women in Law

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DRI Online Communities

Posted on May 22, 2014 02:28 by Admin

On May 21, DRI rolled out the new committee online communities.  The new communities will enhance DRI’s web presence and will allow committee members to connect with each other and share information more easily.  Each community will have a discussion list, which will replace the current list serve, as well as a document library, blog, and calendar.  Committees will also be able to post announcements about their seminars and publications, and promote open positions and volunteer opportunities.  All posts are sent to members as a daily digest from the communities, unless a member changes his or her settings to real-time delivery.   The communities are designed to be the hub for all committee activity. 

There are six substantive law committees serving as the pilot group: Commercial Litigation, Employment and Labor Law, Product Liability, Women in the Law, Workers’ Compensation, and Young Lawyers.  Additional committee communities will go live over the course of the year.

Members can access the communities through the DRI website, www.dri.org  (there is a new link in the top blue navigation bar).  Committee members are automatically members of the respective community and are being notified via email. Members should call (312) 695-6221 if they are having trouble logging in to the site.


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Settlement negotiations can be tricky and knowing what you can and cannot ethically say can mean the difference between a valid and invalid settlement. According to a 2009 survey by Professor Andrea Schneider, director of the Dispute Resolution Program at Marquette University Law School, a sizable minority of litigation attorneys incorrectly answered that they do not need to correctly respond to a direct question about settlement authority. See Art Hinshaw, Peter Reilly & Andrea Kupfer Schneider, Attorneys and Negotiation Ethics: A Material Misunderstanding, 29 Negotiation Journal 265, 269 (2013).  According to the survey, 38.14% of the ninety-seven (97) participating litigation attorneys incorrectly responded that they did not have to admit the amount of their settlement authority if directly asked. Id. at 269-270. Pursuant to the American Bar Association’s Rules on Professional Responsibility, an attorney’s valuation of a claim and a party’s settlement intentions are enumerated exceptions to what constitutes a material statement in negotiations. Id. at 268. However, the specific limits of authority that a client has given a lawyer to settle a case is considered a material fact. Id. Therefore, an attorney must truthfully respond when directly asked about his or her settlement authority.

The survey also found that 22.9% of the participants incorrectly responded that you do not need to correct an opponent’s misimpression of a material fact based on an erroneous statement. Id. at 275.  According to the RULES OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, an omission of a material fact can be unethical in certain cases. Id. at 272. Most importantly, the law of fraud for both tort and contract law requires correction of a misimpression. Id. (Citing RESTATEMENT (SECOND) TORTS, §551(2)(e) and comment l 1977; RESTATEMENT (SECOND) CONTRACTS, §161(b) 1981). Although attorneys generally do not have a duty to correct a misunderstanding of the facts by their opposing counsel, they do if it is based on an erroneous statement.

Wondering what other ethical dilemmas you may encounter on the road to resolution? Consider attending the 2014 DRI Women in the Law Seminar, Clients and Counsel: Partnering for Success Seminar, which will be held February 5-7, 2014, at the FireSky resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.  The seminar includes an interactive mediation/negotiation workshop for in-house and outside counsel.  Chrys A. Martin of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP will explore the ethical issues that need to be foremost in the mind for both in-house and outside counsel from the time negotiations begin until the settlement agreement is fully executed. Click here to register today. 

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Categories: DRI Committees | Seminar | Women in Law

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The Art of Negotiation

Posted on October 8, 2013 03:33 by Sarah E. Lovequist

There have been a number of attempts in the past 15 to 20 years to significantly increase the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), particularly mediation, by parties to civil and commercial disputes. Several law schools now offer comprehensive ADR courses, and courts regularly certify mediators to help facilitate expedited case resolution. Likewise, judges presiding over class action or mass tort/MDL litigations regularly schedule mediation proceedings at or before the initial case management conference.

According to BTI's "Litigation Outlook 2014" survey, 60.7 percent of clients expect to see a jump in litigation matters, yet resolution rates are expected to reach nearly 40 percent. These statistics, coupled with findings from AlixPartners' "Litigation and Corporate Compliance Survey," that 84 percent of corporate legal departments are trying several ways to lower legal costs, including resorting to alternative dispute resolution (ADR), indicate that counsel should quickly hone mediation and negotiation skills.
Short of enrolling in a class at one's local law school or signing up for a one hour CLE on the topic, a practicing attorney has several avenues to take to improve her ADR skills. One such avenue is attending the 2014 DRI Women in the Law Seminar to take advantage of the Seminar's Mediation/Negotiation Workshop. This interactive Workshop includes sessions on both ADR and the art of negotiating, and is designed for both in-house and outside counsel. In addition to this groundbreaking Workshop, the Seminar as a whole promises to offer both practical and networking sessions aimed at enhancing the practicing attorney's total being. 

The 2014 Women in the Law Seminar will be held February 5-7, 2014, at the FireSky resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Register today by visiting here



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People often ask me why they should join DRI. After all, there are lots of organizations out there for lawyers.  Joining a legal association costs money and can take away from billable time. 

So then, why DRI? 

Bang for the buck. 

That’s right. Bang for the buck. There is no other group that will give you back as much as you put in.   If you are looking for a way to expand your referral network, enjoy the highest quality continuing legal education, and make friends that will last a lifetime, there is no other place to go. 

But don’t just take it from me. After all, I’ll admit it. I’m biased. I love DRI and the Women in the Law Committee (WITL).  It’s been the most personally and professionally rewarding organization I’ve ever been involved with in my fifteen years of practice.  Instead, let me share with you what several dozen other women had to say about the WITL Committee.

In June of 2012, nearly three dozen women gathered together in Chicago for a WITL Committee Leadership meeting.  During the meeting, I asked the women in the room to tell me why they joined DRI’s and the Women in the Law Committee.  I wanted to know if the same things that drew me to this dynamic group were the things that others recognized as well. 

The result was overwhelming. As I stood at the blackboard and wrote down the words and phrases that the women in the room called out, I realized that we had something very special - - something that so many other women would want to be a part of. 

So, what did the women in the room say about WITL?  Here are some of the things they said:
 
-Skills development
-Business referrals 
-Networking
-Genuine friendships
-Lots of opportunities
-Inclusion
-Women helping women
-Professional growth and development
-Leadership training
-Cross-generational access to other women lawyers
-Means to help younger women lawyers
-Positive impact on community
-Mentoring inside and outside of DRI
-Opportunity to meet in-house women
-Inspiration and “re-charging”
-Fun
 
While these items are from all women, they can all be said of all DRI committees.  If these things appeal to you, then consider joining DRI and one of our 29 substantive law committees (including Women in the Law).  After all, when’s the last time you did something so beneficial to your legal career that was also “fun”!

Lana A. Olson
Lightfoot, Franklin & White, LLC
400 20th Street North
Birmingham, AL, 35203 
(205) 581-1514

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Let It Rain - Women in the Law 2013

Posted on February 13, 2013 07:20 by Sarah E. Lovequist

As revealed by the National Association of Women Lawyers’ 2012 Survey, women are not credited as rainmakers at the same rates as men: “Almost half (46%) of all large firms report no women rainmakers among their top 10 business generators . . . women partners are less likely than men to receive credit for even a relatively modest book of business . . .” While business development can be a relatively straight-forward process, it is also arguably one of the trickiest areas for women to navigate. 

So how does one join this traditionally male-dominated conversation and hold one’s own? Fortunately, the first step is as easy as attending DRI’s Women in the Law Seminar, March 13-15, 2013 in Miami Beach, Florida. Marianne Trost is kicking off the seminar by leading a hands-on workshop that promises to help any female attorney hone her rainmaking skills so that she may stand toe-to-toe with male rainmakers. Additionally, DRI’s seminar offers sessions on practical skills from time management to selecting a favorable jury to delivering a killer cross-exam. And, of course, there will be plenty of time to network with and learn from fellow seminar attendees’ real life experiences. March is right around the corner, register today!

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Last month the National Bureau of Economic Research released results of its recent research that indicates more women receive raises than their male counter parts, largely because women are more likely than men to haggle and negotiate salary when there is an opportunity to do so. This fact in and of itself is great news – women are taking charge of their careers and sitting down with employers to have “difficult” conversations.  TribeHR decided to delve deeper and create the TribeHR Pay Raise Index – TribeHR concurs with the NBER’s data and found that women receive more pay raises than men - 7.4 percent compared to 6.2 percent. 

What these recent figures do not explain, though, is that, despite these efforts, women as a whole are still earning less money than their male counterparts. Although women seem to receive more raises, men who receive raises are rewarded with higher pay. According to TribeHR’s research, when reviewing pay raises of 5 percent or greater, 60 percent of these raises went to men while only 38 percent went to women; men were three times more likely than women to receive a raise over 25 percent. This data, coupled with findings from the National Association of Women Lawyers’ 2012 Survey that women attorneys typically earn only 89 percent of what their male counterparts earn and account for 70 percent of staff attorneys in the nation’s 200 largest firms, undoubtedly contributes to women unnecessarily fleeing the legal profession altogether.

Wondering how to take control of your salary and career? Consider attending the 2013 Women in the Law Seminar – in addition to practice-related topics, The Careerist Vivia J. Chen will present a session entitled “The Careerist’s Top Ten Tips to Advance Your Career” and offer practical advice on what drives success in the legal field based on her own experience as a practicing lawyer. Caroline Turner from DifferenceWORKS LLC will further empower attendees with a session on enacting gender initiatives within firms and corporations. And nothing compares to networking with fellow women practitioners facing the same professional challenges, brainstorming how to navigate around these statistical detours while continuing on the path to success. Hope to see you in Miami, Florida, March 13-15, 2013! 
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Women in the Law

Posted on December 10, 2012 04:33 by Kim Tran

According to an article in Inside Counsel this week, which cites to U.S. census figures, women now hold one-third of all jobs. This figure includes legal jobs which corresponds directly to the recent rise in women attending law school.  Yet despite our gains in the workforce and in the legal sector, we have yet to make significant gains when it comes to leadership and partnership roles.  

Exactly why that is still unclear, and everyone seems to have an opinion.  Often the argument sounds like a chicken or the egg debate.  Is it that women simply choose to leave or turn down top positions to raise families or is it because those positions and opportunities are made less available to them?  Maybe the answer is a mixed one and one more dependent on that individual woman’s circumstances and nothing a corporation or law firm should worry about, or maybe there is a something that law firms and corporations can and should do to ensure that there is a more equal distribution of females holding top positions.  Regardless of your position on the topic, the uptick of women in the workforce, and in law, is not likely to change any time soon.  How do you think this trend will change the discussion?  Do you think that the gap will eventually close itself with the rise of women workers or do you think that the gap will only close if proactive measures are taken by both existing leadership?  
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Categories: Law School | Women in Law

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According to a recent survey published by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), more women serve as general counsel at Fortune 500 companies in 2011 than ever before.  Women now hold the top legal spot at 21 % of Fortune 500 companies and approximately 16% of these female general counsels identified themselves as minorities.  MCCA President, Joe West, says “The real impact of this news, hopefully, is that it will illustrate to law firms that corporate law departments are serious about inclusion both in word and in deed, and that the time is coming when law firms need to get serious about it as well.”

The numbers of female and minority lawyers are increasing in corporate legal departments because of the transparency requirements put on them by government and the accountability required by consumers and shareholders, says Dr. Arin Reeves, an expert on diversity in the legal field.  While the information in the MCCA report shows positive change, Reeves says it’s dangerous to allow short-term positive change to slow long-term momentum.  “We should be very vigilant that we have a long way to go.  We’re nowhere near represented yet, nowhere near full or unfettered opportunity for women or minorities.”

http://www.law.com/jsp/cc/PubArticleCC.jsp?id=1202567037361

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Anyone who has viewed the viral video, “So You Want to Go to Law School” on YouTube may recall an older male attorney describing one of the more mundane aspects of the practice of law (e.g., responding to Requests for Admissions created solely to confuse you) to an earnest young woman considering going to law school. Despite the male attorney's ominous warnings, the female protagonist in the video, Carrie-Ann Fox, nonetheless decides to go to a fictitious law school and even spawns a sequel YouTube video. Unfortunately, many women are making a different decision—to not go to law school. As a result, this could be a critical time for law firms to make the practice of law more "friendly" to women.

The data provided in a recent Catalyst study illustrates this fact. (Catalyst’s “Women in Law in the U.S.” (2011).) Catalyst is not alone in reporting this trend—according to the ABA, in the 2009 to 2010 class, women made up 47.2 percent of J.D. Students. (American Bar Association, “Enrollment and Degrees Awarded 1963-2010.") This is a noticeable change from 1993, when women comprised 50.4 percent of J.D. students. (American Bar Association, “First Year and Total J.D. Enrollment by Gender 1947 – 2010.”)

Several factors are likely to blame for the erosion of female law school applicants—the economy, related concerns about student loan debt, and perhaps most importantly, the lack of women in the upper echelons of law firms and corporate law departments. This stalled advancement coupled with the perception that law school may not be a good investment in these trying economic times could contribute to a long-term setback for women in the profession. These troubling statistics have certainly been noted by the media—the New York Times, for example, published a piece last year documenting the progress of women in the law in light of the 30th anniversary of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor hearing her first case on the United States Supreme Court. (Editorial. "The Glass Ceiling." New York Times on the Web, 8 Oct. 2011. 5 April 2012.) The editorial noted that women with children are having the hardest time staying in the profession, and are half as likely to be hired as women without children.

In 2010, women made up 31.5 percent of all lawyers. (Current Population Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Table 11: Employed Persons by Detailed Occupation, S*x, Race, and Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity,” Annual Averages 2010 (2011).) However, 11 percent of the largest law firms in the United States have no women on their governing committees. (National Association of Women Lawyers and The NAWL Foundation, Report of the Sixth Annual National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms (October 2011). At many firms, female partners do not play a major role in business development. Indeed, women partners account for only 16 percent of those partners receiving credit for having $500,000 or more business at law firms. (Id.)

After assessing the amount of time, effort, and money required to complete law school and make partner at a law firm, some women may determine that it is not worth the sacrifice, if being partner does not give them actual power relative to firm business decisions. In a survey of the 50 best law firms for women, only a fraction of the decision makers were women: 10 percent of firm chairpersons were women; 2 percent of the firms had women managing partners; 19 percent of the equity partners were women; and 28 percent of the non-equity partners were women. (NAFE and Flex-Time Lawyers, “Executive Summary,” Best Law Firms for Women 2011 (2011).)

This lack of power translates into cold hard dollars, as women lawyers made approximately 77 percent of male lawyers' salaries in 2010. (Current Population Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Table 39: Median Weekly Earnings of Full-time Wage and Salary Workers by Detailed Occupation and S*x,” Annual Averages 2010 (2011).) This lesser income, combined with the demands facing women at home, may not make the practice of law as appealing to females who may feel that they are choosing between a family life and a successful law practice. One study found that nearly half as many male lawyers as women lawyers (44 percent vs. 84 percent) have a spouse that is employed full-time. (Catalyst, Women in Law: Making the Case (2001).) So while top male lawyers may have spouses who do not work full-time, if at all, many female lawyers' spouses work full-time, and the demands of both spouses working is particularly hard on these families.

What do these declining enrollment figures mean for the future practice of law? A decreasing number of females entering law school will undoubtedly result in fewer female attorneys in the coming years. And, that could result in even fewer women in leadership positions within firms, which may further perpetuate the enrollment trend.

What can law firms do to encourage women to enroll in and complete law school? Law firms should consider instituting female-friendly work practices, such as generous maternity leave, flex-time, and telecommuting ability. These business decisions may lead to increased productivity and lower turnover rates. What goes without saying is the impact of technology on the modern lawyer's life. Gone are the days of being “off-the-clock.” The BlackBerry, iPhone, and other PDAs have contributed to a whole new level of accessibility for most attorneys, particularly those who communicate with clients. Although there are some drawbacks to the norm of around-the-clock communication, it has ushered in a new age of flexibility for attorneys who do not have to be in their office to review e-mails, work documents, and participate in telephone conferences. These advancements have benefited female practitioners to the extent that they allow for some of the same work to be done from home, which is particularly helpful for those with family obligations.

Notwithstanding the percentage reduction in law school enrollment, there are still a number of organizations focused on advancing women in the profession. Groups like DRI's Women in the Law Committee (WITL), the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), and the National Association of Women and Minority Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) have undertaken noteworthy work aimed at ensuring the success of women both in law school and in private practice. The WITL, for instance, holds an annual Sharing Success Seminar, n/k/a Women in the Law Seminar, which provides an opportunity for female attorneys to discuss tried and true methods aimed at achieving success in and outside of the courtroom. NAWL has similar initiatives like the continuing series, “Taking Charge of Your Career,” designed to provide the skills and information that women lawyers need to reach leadership levels in their practice settings. These efforts will hopefully cause law firms to pay closer attention to these important issues moving forward in order to counteract the enrollment decline and ensure diversity in future generations of attorneys to come.

Michele Hale DeShazo is senior counsel with the New Orleans office of Kuchler Polk Schell Weiner & Richeson LLC, in which four of the firm's five founding partners are women. Her practice is entirely devoted to litigation, including environmental, toxic tort, product liability and general civil defense litigation.

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