Gaveling the Glass Ceiling: Welcoming our 2018 Rising Stars Cohort and Looking Forward to the Women’s Transformative Leadership Forum in Toronto

Topics: Client Relations, Corporate Legal, Diversity, Law Firms, Talent Development, Women’s Leadership Blog Posts

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As this issue of Gaveling the Glass Ceiling is going to press, I’m energized from an action-packed April which included an official welcome to our 2018 ‘Rising Stars’ cohort!

Our cohort program is designed to enable a select group of high-potential female partners at Am Law 50 firms to gain access to powerful general counsel and other female business leaders by facilitating networking, mentoring, and business development opportunities. (You can read the Bios of these inspiring attorneys partner here!)

Looking ahead, one of the Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law (TWLL) initiative’s biggest draws of the year — the 2018 Women’s Transformative Leadership Forum in Toronto — is just around the corner!

To be held May 3, the theme of the event, “Expanding Your Professional Horizon” is echoed through the day’s planned discussions, keynote talks and networking opportunities. In fact, the Forum really exemplifies TWLL’s ongoing organizational commitment to advancing women’s representative leadership in the law. As designed, the day-long program will address the various challenges impacting rising female stars and women’s leadership opportunities in some of most prestigious legal organizations in the US and Canada.

Along with our Forum Co-Chairs Bindu Dhaliwal, from BMO Financial Group, and Shanin Lott, Managing Director in Talent and Professional Resources at Stikeman Elliott, I am excited that attendees will be offered a blend of keynote plenaries and robust panel discussions that, taken as a whole, address how best to foster best change not only on the organizational level, but within the individual as well. And I’m extremely proud that this message is being delivered by some of the most powerful women in law, business, government, and academia at the coming Forum.

Some of the featured speakers and panels I am most excited about include:

  •        In our opening panel, Forum Co-ChairDhaliwal will lead a discussion about the most effective approaches to advancing women in the legal industry. Joined by panelists Av Maharaj, Vice President of Corporate & Legal Affairs for Kraft Heinz Canada; Deborah Marfurt, Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Co.; and Beth Wilson, Canadian Chief Executive Officer at Dentons, the group will examine the trends and developments — mostly spearheaded by outside groups and leading corporations who are championing women’s advancement — that are critical if we are to move the needle on women’s advancement in a meaningful way. The group will also ask key questions, such as, what does success look like for a firm trying to make a difference? and, how do business leaders work to ensure that any changes they’ve enacted are truly impactful and lasting?
  •        In a keynote presentation, Patricia Gillette, author of a new book, Rainmakers: Born or Bred, will discuss her groundbreaking study on law firm rainmakers. She will share what the study found about the traits and behaviors that are common to rainmakers in law firms, and how those same traits and behaviors can be used to enhance opportunities in other legal roles and environments as well. She will also look at some of the gender biases that are especially challenging to women lawyers and what they can do, as individuals and as part of a legal organization, to overcome them.
  •        Hadiya Roderique, whose story last November in The Globe and Mail about living life as a black female lawyer on Toronto’s Bay Street drew unprecedented buzz for its startling and frank portrait of early career struggles for minority law school graduates, will speak in Fireside Chat with Forum Co-Chair Lott. Since her article’s publication, Roderique has actively sought to advance the issue of diverse representation in the workplace, and in this discussion will offer her thoughts on where the legal industry’s diversity and inclusion efforts need to move in order to foster a truly inclusive work environment.

Again, we’re excited and proud to be a part of the Forum, and greatly look forward to continuing the dialog and debate that it no doubt will produce.

I hope to see you there!