Gaveling the Glass Ceiling: Looking Back at 2017 and Forward to 2018!

Topics: Diversity, Efficiency, Government, Law Firm Profitability, Law Firms, Women’s Leadership Blog Posts


During this time of year, everyone’s To Do list grows a little long, exponentially in some cases! As I was readying the December issue of Gaveling the Glass Ceiling to press, I was also working on the first Annual Report of the Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law (TWLL) initiative.

Both efforts allowed me time to reflect back on the year, and look forward to the year ahead, with a mix of cautious optimism and true appreciation for the work we and many, many women and men have done in the past year to help lower the hurdles for women’s advancement in the legal profession.

As I mentioned in the Annual Report, when I look back on the year, I’m encouraged by the abundance of industry debate and dialogue focused on the experience of women in law firms. We’ve seen spirited panel discussions at key industry conferences, thoughtful articles and analysis across various media, and tenacious industry organizations and associations that tirelessly produce reports and studies resulting in critical new empirical research.

My view of all this activity is that it’s propelled by the collective desire — and a sense of urgent need — for a more diverse and inclusive legal industry that increases its retention and promotion of women and people of color into partnership ranks and other legal leadership positions.

When I look back on the year, I’m encouraged by the abundance of industry debate and dialogue focused on the experience of women in law firms.

The strong business case for diversity has been made increasingly clear by the growing number of global corporations that now mandate diverse legal teams from their outside counsel. As a further example of collective action, the Diversity Lab last year announced that it has partnered with more than two dozen top U.S. law firms to pilot the Mansfield Rule to measure whether law firms have affirmatively considered at least 30% women and minority lawyers for significant leadership roles. Those that do will be certified and receive introductions to influential in-house counsel.

Thomson Reuters is proud to do its part through TWLL, now entering its third year, which creates opportunities for law firm leaders and general counsels (GCs) to jointly address the structural barriers that impede women as they progress in their legal careers. Through year-round programming including roundtable dinners, fireside chats and large-scale industry events, we are joining forces as one legal community to uncover the solutions that we all hope will truly drive change!

Through these events, we’ve seen how gathering as a community is invaluable as we learn from each other and develop deeper insights. On a more personal level, we’ve also seen how TWLL represents an opportunity for participants to develop new business relationships… which often lead to trusted contacts, and sometimes even new friends!

Finally, we’d like to express our appreciation to the members of our advisory committee, all senior female leaders from the legal departments of large corporations and the largest global law firms, whose collective perspective and expertise are paramount in shaping this initiative and keeping us all focused on the most pressing issues and questions. They generously devote significant time from their busy schedules for which we are very grateful!

We do believe more change is on the horizon and we are invigorated to advance the conversation! We look forward to re-connecting with our current TWLL partners and participants and to expand our circle, including our UK business which will launch its own TWLL chapter in 2018. We wish to welcome many incredible women — and men — in the pursuit of improving diversity in the legal industry!

Finally, I wanted to leave you with a holiday present, of sorts. Courtesy of Thomson Reuters Practical Law, their recent article about “Rainmaking & Relationship-Building: 5 Proven Strategies” that was recently published in Above the Law, is a crucial read about subjects that can be especially important to women lawyers on their way up in their firms.

Check it out here: