In 2006, the National Association of Women Lawyers issued the NAWL Challenge to increase to at least 30% the number of women equity partners, women chief legal officers, and women tenured law professors. While the profession has made strides in the latter two areas, the number of women equity partners remains relatively stagnant. NAWL developed the NAWL Challenge Club as a joint effort by law firms and corporate legal departments to make change happen. Membership in the NAWL Challenge Club offers corporate legal departments (“Corporate Members”) and law firms (“Law Firm Members”) the platform to create opportunities through constructive, feasible, and results-oriented activities. Law Firm Members will select their top women lawyers on track for equity partnership to participate in networking events and presentation sessions with Corporate Members, who will, in turn, provide mentorship and consider Law Firm Members for future work.
NAWL will recognize and highlight Members by sharing success stories from the NAWL Challenge Club through the NAWL website, in the Women Lawyers Journal, and in the national media.
The criteria for membership are as follows:
Corporate Members Will Commit To Supporting an Increase in the Number of Women Equity Partners in Law Firms by:
Increasing Work Given to Women Lawyers
• Increasing spend with women attorneys or dedicating a percentage of total legal spend to women lawyers every year.
• Increasing the number of women outside counsel who serve as their lead trial lawyers, lead project lawyers, and relationship partners.
• Welcoming at least four Law Firm Members to their locations for substantive presentations to legal department members.
Participating in Networking Opportunities
• Participating in 2 to 3 NAWL Challenge Club networking events held in conjunction with NAWL’s Annual Meeting, Mid-Year Meeting, the General Counsel Institute, and other regional programs.
• Considering Law Firm Members for future work.
Mentorship and Publicity
• Creating mentorship opportunities for women lawyers selected by Law Firm Members.
• Granting permission to publicize their pledge to the NAWL Challenge Club.
Law Firm Members Will Commit To Increasing Their Number of Women Equity Partners by:
Increasing Transparency of Equity Partnership Process
• Increasing transparency to law firm lawyers regarding equity partnership requirements.
• Sharing annually with NAWL, for internal NAWL Challenge Club purposes only, information as to the percentage of women equity partners and/or the rates of change.
Designating Lawyers and Supporting Participation
• Identifying high potential women lawyers who are on the path to equity partner to participate in the NAWL Challenge Club, with the number of designations determined by sponsorship level (5 designees for Platinum Sponsors, 3 for Gold, 2 for Silver, and 1 for Bronze).
• Supporting designated participants by covering travel and related expenses for networking events, presentations, and mentorship sessions.
Developing Policies That Support Challenge Goals
• Granting origination credit for work that directly relates to NAWL Challenge Club participation to the woman who was selected by the Corporate Member as the lead lawyer for the work.• Creating a flex-time policy and supporting its use within the firm.
• Ensuring that work that originates through the NAWL Challenge Club is passed along, through succession planning, to other women within the firm.
• Increasing the number of women lawyers on the firm’s executive, compensation, recruitment, and other committees.
Together we can not only meet, but exceed the NAWL Challenge.
Join the Club!