ATLANTA — The issue of finding ways to advance your career amid a lack of a great number of female leaders in the legal industry — especially within your own law firm or legal department — was the focus of a roundtable dinner sponsored by Thomson Reuters’ Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law (TWLL) initiative.
The dinner — held October 19 at Lure Restaurant in Atlanta — was the latest in a series of TWLL-sponsored dinners and luncheons welcome female lawyers, both from corporate legal departments and law firms, to discuss issues that are central to women’s advancement in the law.
In Atlanta, Debbie Maron, Angela Woods and Carolynn Fay of Thomson Reuters welcomed 10 women lawyers to the dinner to discuss the dynamics of women working for women in the legal industry. As the discussion began, the hosts discovered something disappointing, but that confirmed one of the continuing issues in women’s advancement in legal — none of the dinner guests had female supervisors. Not one.
Many spoke of the shortage of women at their firm and shared that they often found themselves the lone female among male colleagues. From this acknowledgement, the conversation took a turn towards how women nevertheless found opportunities to advance in their legal careers.
The acknowledgement of this was not altogether surprising to participants. Many spoke of the shortage of women at their firm and shared that they often found themselves the lone female among male colleagues. From this acknowledgement, the conversation took a turn towards how women nevertheless found opportunities to advance in their legal careers.
For example, many discussed the importance of connecting with a mentor — noting that this was key — especially when there were no women with whom to connect. Instead, men filled this role for them at their respective firms and organizations, several of the women at the dinner noted from their own experiences.
They also said that they had found a surprising ally in their struggle to advance: technology. Finding ways to integrate technology — such as calendar blocking, using webex and the ability to work remotely — into their work process can lead to more efficiency, which translates to a less costly and less time-consuming way of doing business, several women explained, adding that the time and energy saved allows them to pursue other matters.
Indeed, some of the women spoke about the continued frustration between their work and personal life. They spoke about how often men are perceived as “good fathers” when they take time off of work to focus on family events, but that women are often viewed negatively for similar efforts. However, the women reported that they were seeing those judgements surrounding this difficult balance ease a bit.
In all, the women said they found the TWLL dinner to be of great benefit, both in relieving their own personal frustrations and in finding camaraderie in other women as well.
They also spoke about the importance of support — both at home and at work — in order to advance in their careers. All in all, several of the women said the event proved to be an evening of just that: Support. As Thomson Reuters’ Fay best described, the evening was one of establishing and strengthening a “sister bond”.