Sheila M. Murphy, Vice President and Associate General Counsel at MetLife, spoke to the Legal Executive Institute about joining the Advisory Board of Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law (TWLL) and why she decided to become involved with this endeavor.
Legal Executive Institute: Why did you decide to become an Advisory Committee member for Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law?
Sheila M. Murphy: My personal mission is to ensure people have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential by providing them with the guidance and resources they need to succeed. My goal as a manager, mentor and steward is to understand people’s career aspirations and potential obstacles, and then help them develop pathways for success. I also focus on this goal in my time away from the office. For example, I’m the co-chair of CARE’s Women Network-NY, where we support CARE’s work of eradicating poverty by educating and empowering women and girls in developing countries.
Unfortunately, this need also exists in the U.S. and in the legal profession as a whole. For this reason, I also serve on the boards of PowerPlay NYC, which empowers underserved girls in New York City, and the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), whose mission is to increase the number of women in senior positions throughout the legal profession. We know from research like the annual NAWL survey that even though we’ve been trying to tackle this issue for years, there has been little to no progress — and the numbers are even worse for ethnically and racially diverse women.
Being part of TWLL is a natural fit for me, and I’m excited to partner in our work to advance women in the legal profession; both by creating stronger connections between in-house and outside counsel and also working toward removing barriers that impede professional advancement.
Legal Executive Institute: What most excites you about this initiative?
Sheila M. Murphy: I’m particularly excited about the opportunity for top women leaders from in-house and outside counsel to collectively work toward solving this issue. Together, we can create executable strategies that can propel women in our industry.
Legal Executive Institute: How do you see your organization benefiting from meeting with law firms and corporations around the topic of women’s leadership in the law?
Sheila M. Murphy: MetLife, including its Legal Affairs department, has a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion. Diverse teams bring different ideas and perspectives to address our challenges and opportunities as a company. Diversity and inclusion also helps us better understand and meet the needs of our customers.
We truly believe that by having diverse teams and views, our teams are stronger and more effective. We also appreciate that diversity needs inclusion to obtain the greatest results for individuals and the organization. We believe that strength not only exists at MetLife, but that we can also learn from others — and become even stronger because of it.
Legal Executive Institute: Why is it important to stay focused and remain committed to the advancement of women in law?
Sheila M. Murphy: First, it’s the right thing to do. As I mentioned earlier, research demonstrates that women are underrepresented at the highest levels of the legal profession and we must do more to remedy that. Second, it’s the right thing for clients. If clients are not benefiting from diverse teams, including women’s insights, then they are not obtaining the best advice possible — and we owe it to them to provide that advice.