Summer 2016

    By: Leslie Richards-Yellen on Aug 18, 2016

    I am delighted and proud to be the incoming President of this wonderful organization of ours! After 117 years, the National Association of Women Lawyers is more committed than ever to advancing women in the legal profession. 

    Beginning in the era of the suffragettes, NAWL has been an impactful organization on issues of importance to women. This legacy has been assured by an unbroken line of strong leaders. Marsha L. Anastasia, the outgoing NAWL President, is one of the most gifted of these remarkable women. Although Marsha has a huge job as Vice President, Deputy General Counsel-The Americas for Pitney Bowes, she works unceasingly toward gender equality. It is a great honor to succeed Marsha and to continue the upward trajectory for NAWL that she was instrumental in plotting.

    Regardless of your political orientation, it is an important indicator of progress for women that Hillary Clinton is the presidential nominee of a major political party. It is a victory for all women that the nouns mother, grandmother, and wife are now associated with the titles lawyer, Senator, Secretary of State, and presumptive presidential nominee. Step by step, the frontier of “the first woman to…” is steadily being populated. 

    This does not mean, of course, that gender equality is at hand. Just as the election of President Obama, while historically and culturally important, did not usher in a “post racial era,” Hillary Clinton’s likely nomination or even election as President, will not end gender discrimination. Any declaration of “VW Day” (victory for women) would be premature.

    Specifically, we should not lose sight of the reality for most women lawyers. For example, according to NAWL’s Ninth Annual Survey, at the current rate, women will not make up 30% of law firm capital partners until 2181. Women lawyers in other sectors, such as corporate general counsel of Fortune 500 companies (23%) and tenured law faculty (37.5%), are doing better; however, even these percentages are not reflective of the female population in America.

    We must redouble our efforts toward gender equality; otherwise the status quo army will advance waving the flag of surrender. True to the legacy of the suffragettes, NAWL will lead the way toward gender equality in the legal profession with modern, as well as time-honored strategies. Among these strategies are: the NAWL 1/3 by 2020 Challenge to increase the number of women in leadership positions; the NAWL Challenge Club, which connects corporations with talented women on track for equity partnership; and the NAWL Survey, which holds the legal profession accountable for advancing gender diversity (while highlighting best practices to achieve the goal).

    Please join NAWL on this journey. Through the efforts of many women and men, we are close to the time when there will be a swell and the inevitable tide will rush in to propel women to equality. 

    It will be a pleasure to work with you and do our part.  

    Released: August 18, 2016, 9:20 am | Updated: February 22, 2017, 12:20 pm
    Keywords: NAWL News


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