Gaveling the Glass Ceiling: Continuing to Transform Women’s Leadership in the Law

Topics: Corporate Legal, Diversity, Government, Law Firms, Talent Development, Thomson Reuters, Women’s Leadership Blog Posts

civil justice

As I assume my new role as the executive sponsor for the Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law (TWLL) initiative at Thomson Reuters, I want to take my first issue of Gaveling the Glass Ceiling to heartily thank Charlotte Rushton for all the impactful work she’s done in helping to create, form and bring to life this initiative since its launch in 2016.

Charlotte now begins a new role herself at Thomson Reuters as president of its Tax Professionals business and while we wish her the best in this new endeavor, she will be greatly missed here!

However, our work continues today and into the future; and I take very seriously the trust and responsibly given to me with this task. As Charlotte correctly pointed out in her final letter last month, TWLL’s statement of purpose — to address the “structural barriers and create cultural change needed at the organizational level for women to succeed and advance in the legal industry” — is simply too important to do otherwise. As a member of TWLL’s Advisory Board, I  look forward also to continuing the collaboration with these committed women leaders to reach for the goals that TWLL has laid out.

I’m also very interested in the content on the Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law Spotlight page and how it highlights organizations’ successes in removing barriers to the advancement of women and shines a spotlight on some of the most powerful women in law, business, government and academia. It’s even more gratifying when those women share their experiences of rising to the top.

As was detailed at the creation of the TWLL Spotlight Page, the goal of the initiative and the page is to:

  •        curate conversations between law firms and general counsels to discuss the barriers that hinder women’s advancement;
  •        enhance connections between senior women in law firms and corporate counsel offices; and
  •        enable law firms and businesses to explore, identify, and implement solutions to remove structural and organizational obstacles that impede women’s advancement.

It is my hope that we can continue to feature content that repositions the conversation away from what women can do and places a greater onus on institutions, law firms and the overall legal industry to examine what they can be doing — individually and collectively — to better include and promote women in their organizations and within the legal profession as a whole.

For example, recently on the TWLL Spotlight page we featured the following pieces:

  •        Inspirational stories shared during a program on women trailblazers in the legal profession. Ritu Ghai, senior legal counsel at Thomson Reuters, described an event which spotlighted the strides that women have made in law but also shed light on how much work there is to be done, and even more so for minority women lawyers.
  •        A conversation with Roxann Smithers from Smithers + Ume-Nwagbo, an Atlanta-based legal firm that specializes in providing general counsel services for small businesses. Smithers discusses how she acquired her areas of legal expertise and the circumstances that led her to starting her own firm.
  •        Insight from PD Villarreal, head of litigation at GlaxoSmithKline, who talked about how in-house counsel need to drive more diversity and inclusion with their outside counsel and offered five ways corporate legal departments can do that.

When these individuals are listened to or when these solutions are taken, women in the legal profession have the potential to advance. And that’s what excites me the most about the TWLL initiative!