National Association of Women Lawyers
Vicky DiProva, executive director
The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) is the leading national volunteer organization devoted to the interests of women lawyers and women's rights. Founded in 1899‚ long before most local and national bar associations admitted women, NAWL has served as an educational forum and an active voice for the concerns of women in the legal profession by focusing on workplace issues facing women lawyers and societal problems confronting women. In 1912‚ NAWL campaigned for women’s voting rights during the women’s suffrage movement. Six years later‚ it began for a movement to secure the right for women to serve on juries. In addition to participating in individual court cases addressing issues of interest to women and their families‚ NAWL continues to focus on issues relevant to women lawyers such as the “glass ceiling,” pay equity, and balancing work and family. The association maintains a strong commitment to work for women’s parity in the legal profession. Vicky DiProva, NAWL’s executive director, notes that “in 2006, we issued the NAWL Challenge—that by 2015, women will represent 30% of chief legal officers, 30% of law firm equity partners, and 30% of tenured law school faculty members.”
NAWL has developed a number of successful programs that address every stage of a woman’s career in the law. “From Backpack to Briefcase” is aimed at helping law students move from law school to the workplace. “Taking Charge of Your Career” is designed to provide the skills and information that women lawyers need to reach leadership levels in their practice settings. “Ready to On Ramp” helps women who have taken time off from the profession to resume their careers. This last program presents lessons learned from individuals who have returned to work, provides the employer’s perspective on the reentry process, and delivers an overview of the needs of the marketplace.
At its National Leadership Summit in 2007‚ NAWL established a forum for managing partners, law firm leaders, and general counsel to discuss and identify specific steps for advancing women into leadership and equity positions in law firms. The forum brainstormed and exchanged ideas in four key areas – leadership, retention and promotion, business development, and compensation. From those efforts, in 2008 it generated a report detailing its recommendations, titled Actions for Advancing Women into Law Firm Leadership. The report documented a "road map" for law firms with regard to increasing the number of women in their partnership ranks, and assisting them in becoming firm leaders and rainmakers. One of the report’s key findings was the importance of mentoring in developing and retaining women lawyers. The report noted that law firms have to define “mentor,” and address the different aspects involved in the process of mentoring. In short, they need to do a better job in training partners and senior associates on how best to mentor others. Only through effective mentoring programs will firms retain their female and minority lawyers. “This report is intended to move law firms from talk to action by providing them with specific actions—a blueprint—for advancing women lawyers into leadership positions,” notes DiProva.
NAWL’s other publications also have helped advance the interest of women lawyers. The Women Lawyers Journal is a quarterly publication of leading articles relating to women in the law. In addition, the National Directory of Women Lawyers and Women-Owned Law Firms® is an annual publication designed to assist in-house counsel with locating women lawyers and referring legal work. The directory helps clients find the right woman lawyer for the job, and gives women lawyers the opportunity to present themselves to a wide array of potential clients.
|Calender of Events|
July 23, 2009
Honoring Richard Palmore and the General Mills Legal Department, LexisNexis, Marcia Greenberger of the National Law Center, and Holly Fujie of the California Bar Association
Featuring CLE and Roundtable Workshops
Fifth Annual General Counsel Institute
November 5-6, 2009
See www.nawl.org for more information about the association’s upcoming events.
Through the years, NAWL has demonstrated its commitment to supporting diversity in the legal profession. It recently established a diversity initiative to increase outreach, recruitment, and retention of lawyers of diverse communities nationwide. “We look at diversity from many angles,” explains DiProva, who came to the organization in July of 2008 with more than ten years of management experience in the nonprofit sector. “We certainly look at race and ethnic diversity, but we also look at sexual orientation and age. NAWL is proud that this is reflected not only in our membership, but also with our Board of Directors. We have also increased our board and member representation to include attorneys who are in-house and outside counsel, as well as from the government, nonprofit, and academic sectors.”
Furthermore, NAWL has taken steps to diversify its panels at its various events and conferences. Lisa Horowitz, the association’s president, notes, “NAWL works hard to make sure that panelists and participants at our Backpack to Briefcase programs, General Counsel Institute, Midyear Event, Annual Meeting—and, indeed, at all our programs—reflect our diverse membership and their experiences as lawyers. Our individual members' careers and lives—and NAWL as an organization—are greatly enriched as a result of these multiple perspectives.”
By pursuing equality and diversity, NAWL plans to continue serving as a trailblazer on behalf of all women lawyers. Horowitz explains, “NAWL's mission is to ensure that all women attorneys have an equal opportunity to achieve their potential and their goals. Our national footprint fosters a uniquely diverse and inclusive Board of Directors and membership. This diversity makes us a more effective association, as it increases our strengths, resources, and adaptability.” DB
From the July/August 2009 issue of Diversity & The Bar®