This blog entry comes from Vision 2020 Texas Delegate Catherine A. Lamboley whose State Initiative is focused on equality for women lawyers: Accelerating the Achievement of Equality for Women in the Legal Profession by Connecting the Consortium for Advancing Women Lawyers with Vision 2020. Want to share news about your State Initiative? Send your blog entries to Vision firstname.lastname@example.org.
On April 27, Vision 2020 National Ally the Center for Women in Law at The University of Texas School of Law convened the fourth meeting of its Consortium for Advancing Women Lawyers. The Center created the Consortium to provide a platform to support a national movement by bringing together thought leaders from across the country who are leading initiatives (both research and others) to advance women in the legal profession. Through twice-annual meetings and ongoing conversations through a listserv, the leaders share knowledge, collaborate and leverage resources to accelerate the advancement of women to leadership and power positions in the legal profession. Two of the Consortium member organizations are also Vision 2020 National Allies—American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession and Catalyst.
The April meeting began with an informal dinner Wednesday evening that was followed by an all-day business meeting Thursday. As with previous Consortium meetings, the business meeting had two parts: information sharing in the morning and collective goal setting in the afternoon. During the information-sharing portion, members discussed their individual organizations’ initiatives, brainstormed ideas for increasing the effectiveness of these initiatives, and identified areas for collaboration. For instance, several organizations that are actively engaged in designing major research initiatives vetted their proposed research with the other leaders in the room. By doing so, the members were able to view their research in relation to other major initiatives throughout the country and not just in the context of their individual group’s goals and initiatives.
After the information-sharing portion of the meeting concluded, the conversation moved to the status of the three initiatives the Consortium members have agreed to undertake together. The first is support for the ABA Commission on Women’s Regional Summits for Women General Counsel. These Summits are focused on the importance of in-house counsel hiring women in law firms and ensuring that the women get credit (i.e. compensation) for the work they are doing. This is critical because it is one of the most important factors in determining leadership positions in law firms. The second initiative is to work with media organizations and other groups who sponsor leading legal surveys to create consistency in the definition of terms used to measure the status of women in the profession, particularly with respect to the definition of equity partner and the ways in which compensation is allocated. The third initiative is to engage state, local and specialized bar associations to take specific steps (e.g. training programs on unexamined bias) to achieve the goals for women in the profession stated in the Austin Manifesto and the National Association of Women Lawyers Challenge and publish data regarding progress. At the meeting, Consortium members also agreed to work on a new initiative focusing on sponsorship and succession planning.
Karen Kaplowitz, who served as the Vision 2020 National Delegate Selection Co-chair and currently serves as a member of the Vision 2020 Leadership Circle, was a guest speaker. She spoke about the origin of Vision 2020, the National Goals and the intersection with the Consortium’s goals. Karen’s comments were enthusiastically received. The Consortium members were excited to hear about Vision 2020 and know that there is such a strong and active movement.
It was an incredible experience to be in a room with these energized, committed and tenacious leaders who all represent different organizations but are working toward the same goal. By uniting these leaders and their efforts, the Center is creating a coordinated movement that will accelerate change in the legal profession.