Valerie Radwaner, Deputy Chair and Corporate Partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, spoke to the Legal Executive Institute about why she joined the Advisory Board of Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law (TWLL) and what she hopes to contribute to this endeavor.
Legal Executive Institute: Why did you decide to become an advisory committee member?
Valerie Radwaner: Paul, Weiss has been shattering glass ceilings for more than a century. We were the first major law firm to have a female partner, back in the 1950s. Diversity is a key strategic priority for Paul, Weiss and includes programs, initiatives and policies that have been broadly commended as market-leading.
Paul, Weiss has made significant strides in preparing and promoting women for partnership and leadership positions, and, as a recognized leader in this area, we realize that we can, and must, do more. Joining the TWLL Advisory Board is a unique opportunity to collaborate with my counterparts at some of the most innovative companies and firms in the country, and to work together to institute change and inspire leadership in the legal profession.
It was clear from our first board meeting that this was a compelling opportunity to share our best thinking and successful strategies, and by doing so, to create a model for what other leaders can do to encourage and advance women in their firms.
Legal Executive Institute: What most excites you about this initiative?
Valerie Radwaner: The Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law initiative is focused on how to effect change, not just talk about it. This is an exciting time to be a woman in America, especially with the first female presidential nominee in our nation’s history. Yet the number of women in senior leadership positions in business, law and government is not reflective of the formidable talent of women in the work force.
As women who have achieved positions of leadership and responsibility in our respective organizations, we are working together to accelerate change.
The TWLL initiative provides a strong platform for investing in women’s success. We have conversed about the latest thinking on leadership development, covering topics such as strategy, paths to success, impact of technology, decision-making and accountability, among many other things.
At Paul, Weiss, we encourage associates to make connections early and often. Our culture is based on collaboration, teamwork, engagement and the open exchange of ideas so that we continually learn from each other. My participation in the TWLL initiative reinforces the idea that forging connections and sharing experiences with your peers is important at every level throughout your career.
Legal Executive Institute: How do you see your organization benefiting from meeting with law firms and corporations around this topic?
Valerie Radwaner: As the Deputy Chair of Paul, Weiss, I have overall responsibility, with our firm’s Chair, for the firm’s priority initiatives, including promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace. The ability to engage in a vibrant discussion with other law firm leaders and leaders of the business community about these topics is highly beneficial and critical to raising our collective awareness and keeping us abreast of the best thinking and on top of our game.
On a personal level, I am deeply inspired by my fellow participants. We have each faced different obstacles and challenges in building our careers, but persevered and achieved recognition in our respective organizations. By sharing our stories and ideas, we are questioning the status quo, building the future for the next generation, and helping each other to be better role models and leaders.
We have much to learn from each other. I know that building a diverse workforce is not only the right thing to do, but it is a critical component of success in all aspects of our firm, our business and the larger community.