Recently I came across an old NAWL folder that had been tucked into some hanging files in my office credenza. It held information relating to the very first NAWL event I was in charge of planning – the Minnesota Backpack to Briefcase event in 2007. For more than a decade and for over half my legal career, I have been very actively engaged in NAWL. As long as I have been involved, NAWL has strived to provide support and opportunities for women at every stage of their career. That has certainly been true for me. As my experiences in both NAWL and in the profession have changed, so have the opportunities that were available to me. NAWL provides opportunities for all if its members to network and grow; opportunities for leadership development; and opportunities to give back.
Opportunities to grow. No matter the stage of your career, there are ample opportunities to grow through NAWL. For more junior lawyers, this can mean finding other women outside of your school or employment setting who are going through or have gone through similar experiences early in their careers. It can also mean expanding your network to include incredible women around the country. Through participation in an affinity group members can learn more about a particular practice area and sharpen substantive knowledge and skills. NAWL also fosters interaction between lawyers of different backgrounds and experiences which opens new ideas and viewpoints.
Opportunities for leadership development. One of the more tangible benefits of NAWL engagement is the opportunity to develop and demonstrate leadership skills. There are so many ways to get involved with committees and event planning. Being part of a committee allows members to first see how others navigate leadership positions. And when ready and willing, there are opportunities to lead substantive committees, conference planning committees, and potentially the organization through board service.
Opportunities to give back. We all have times where we are rightfully focused on ways to advance our own careers. That may mean landing a first or new job; making partner or getting a promotion; or gaining a new client or project. As exciting as these things can be, we all know that giving back is fulfilling in a different way. Giving my time and energy to help NAWL help women in the legal profession will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable and satisfying parts of my career. And even though my term as president is coming to an end, my active support of NAWL is not. Thank you to all of you and to NAWL for the tremendous opportunities.
What opportunities will you seek through NAWL in the coming year?