Gaveling the Glass Ceiling: Women’s Leadership Forum in Toronto Provides a Chance to Connect & Share

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


In the July edition of our Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law monthly newsletter, we can reflect with admiration for all the panelists, speakers, organizers and attendees who made our recent “Women’s Transformative Leadership Forum”, held late last month in Toronto, such a huge success. Everyone’s contributions really helped make the event one of both reflecting on the progress women have made in the legal profession and acknowledgement that we all still have a way to go toward leveling the playing field and overcoming still significant barriers for women in law.

Of course, the chance for so many of us to get together and share our stories of success and setback was a key part of how this event was envisioned. In fact, I had an opportunity to catch up with our event co-chair, Shanin Lott, who graciously agreed to share some highlights from the panel she moderated about lawyers who transition from traditional legal practice to the business world. (Shanin’s and my conversation will soon be featured on a podcast on the Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law Spotlight page within the Legal Executive Institute blog. Stay tuned!)

Shanin H. Lott, Managing Director of Talent and Professional Resources at Stikeman Elliott

Shanin’s four panelists all received law degrees, but took different and fascinating routes along their unique career paths. As Shanin put it, “They zigged, they zagged, from private practice to in-house roles to business and entrepreneurial roles.”

When asked about the career opportunities for trained legal professionals, Lott replied with an enthusiastic, “The world is our oyster,” citing the broad range of applicable roles from purely legal to those in non-legal business and lots of different options in between! One path may see lawyers who step into non-practicing roles within their own firms, such as in professional development, education, business development, and communications or marketing. Lawyers can then take those freshly-minted skills to an in-house legal role in a corporate environment or continue on to the business side of the house.

Another promising area of opportunity is in the entrepreneurial realm, specifically around innovation in the practice of law, for those inspired to re-imagine the legal profession with software and solutions to boost efficiencies. This area of opportunity is certainly near and dear to Thomson Reuters Legal!

The panelists all shared their personal pros and cons of choosing private practice, in-house counsel or purely business roles. Private law firm practice was singled out for challenging and interesting work, being surrounded by smart legal colleagues, with access to a wide variety of matters and clients. On the flip side, the work can often be unpredictable in its demands and the need for deep focus can come at the expense of a broader business context.

Also in our newsletter this month, we feature a podcast interview with Sheryl Axelrod, the head of The Axelrod Firm. Sheryl spoke with Sharon Sayles Belton, Thomson Reuters Vice President of Government Affairs and Community relations, about the importance of NAMWOLF, the National Association of Women and Minority Owned Law Firms. Sheryl was recently honored with NAMWOLF’s 2017 Yolanda Coly Advocacy Award. We are certainly proud to host this important interview.

We also feature a recent blog post on the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), and speak to Connie Brenton, its CEO, about the important work the group is doing to bring attention to the important area of legal operations.