Dyanna Q

Overheard at the American Bar Association’s Women in Law Leadership (WILL) Academy

From December 6-7, 2012, San Francisco played host to the 2012 Women in Law Leadership (WILL) Academy presented by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the Young Lawyers Division. The event was an incredible success. 

I was lucky enough to attend and get to hear the incredible advice offered by keynote speakers such as  The Honorable Angela Bradstreet, San Francisco County Superior Court; Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Writer, Director, and Producer ofMiss Representation and Founder and CEO of MissRepresentation.org; and Edith R. Perez, Partner (Ret.), Latham and Watkins LLP and President, Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners (1997-1999). 

The theme of this year's WILL Academy was Changing the Rules of the Game: It's About Time, and featured panels on relevant topics like: The Rainmaking X Factor: It Is More Than Just a Plan; Pick Me: Critical Self-Promotion Skills for Rainmaking; and Institutional Leadership: Making a Play for the Top.

Below, I offer quotes from a sample of the panels.  Enjoy!

The Building Blocks of Success: Business, Community and Institutional Leadership with The Honorable Angela Bradstreet, San Francisco Superior Court:

- Happiness is not the station one arrives at but the travel itself. And it is a great journey.

- Get involved with your community but make sure it is something you are passionate about. You never know what opportunities will unfold when you are following your passion. 

- We have enough external glass ceilings to have to deal with our own internal ones.  We need to be much better at asking for what we want. People respect you when you ask!

The Rainmaking X Factor: It Is More Than Just a Plan with Patricia K. Gillette, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP and Caren Stacy, Lawyer Metrics, LLC:

- 50% of law firms have no women among their top 10 rainmakers. 

- Women are externally kept from economic power because of: 1) the old boys club; 2) Queen Bee syndrome (other women not wanting to share power); and 3) unconscious bias. Women are internally kept from economic power because of the need for perfection and the fear of failure. 

- The two keys to building a book of business are reputation (tactical) and developing relationships (traits). 

- Rainmakers have high levels of confidence in their success, dominance, fearlessness, flexibility and independence. Rainmakers believe they play a pivotal role in what happens to them instead of just depending on luck. Rainmakers are good at managing change, developing interpersonal relationships, focusing on results, and leading. 

- You can start working on developing oral communication and risk-taking skills NOW!

Setting Our Sights on the C-Suite with Edith Perez, Latham and Watkins (retired): 

- Be brave. Be strong. Figure it out. 

- You can't control your corporate culture, but you can control how you react to it. I exercise discipline in taking steps to get to my goal. I don't give up, and I don't listen to the negative voices. 

- Get yourself a "kitchen cabinet" - a personal group of advisers and mentors who provide valuable feedback/guidance.

- Define, articulate, and envision crystal clear goals. Build a network and a reservoir of good will. The single most important element, however, is to be eternally optimistic. I wasn't supposed to succeed, but I focused on the now. 

- Favorite quotes: If your dreams don't scare you, they are not big enough; and She believed she could, so she did. 

Team Leadership: Playing to Our Strengths with Moderator Rachel Moran, UCLA School of Law; Michelle Banks, General Counsel of Gap; Mary Cranston, Chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession; and Denise Keane, General Counsel of Altria Group:

- Don't just break the glass ceiling - take the elevator up! Take risks, be fearless, be confident. Risks equal opportunity. The highest correlate to happiness is taking risks. 

- Fear and an adherence to stereotypes are two of the greatest challenges facing women in business. And only women can overcome them.

- Say no strategically. A "network map," a map of everyone you know who can move your goals ahead, can help. 

- Developing a great team means leveraging strengths, recognizing people for their work, and being open to healthy debate. 

Communication Skills: Can We Talk? with Victoria Pynchon, She Negotiates LLC:

- Communication successes: Stride in. Stand tall. Eye contact. Choose the best seat in the room. 

- Communication fails: Apologizing. Ending sentences on an upswing. Limp hand shakes. "Like, um."

- Confident body language can negate the assumptions of inferiority in the workplace. 

- Don't say no or withhold your judgment, but express it positively and optimistically. 

- The most important tip to rainmaking: reciprocity. 

Institutional Leadership: Making a Play for the Top with Moderator Jessica Kornberg, Bird Marella; Navjeet Bal, Nixon Peabody LLP; Senator Ellen Corbett, California State Senate; and Hilary Krane, General Counsel of Nike:

- Impactful mentors don't have to look or be exactly like you. Many of us had amazing male mentors. 

- Embrace the fear of failure. The fear gets me to work harder. If I do fail, I will know it's not due to lack of effort. 

- Put your best on the playing field. If it doesn't work out, join another team. But be your best cheerleader always.

- Authenticity is ultimately the key to success. My identity as a woman is part of that. 

- Whatever course you set for yourself, it will lead you somewhere - oftentimes to a place better than you expected!

- Take every opportunity, and never question that you will be successful. 

Changing the Rules of the Game with Jennifer Siebel Newsom, MissRepresentation.org:

- Our young girls are handicapped by comments about their looks while our boys are praised about their capacities.

- You need courage, a sense of fearlessness, and maybe a hint of stubbornness to overcome challenges. 


All in all, it was a great two days of learning, listening and laughing with other women in the law. If you're interested in hearing more of these kinds of conversations, look for future events co-hosted by the ABA Commissions and Ms. JD. 

Do you have a great idea for an event that you'd like Ms. JD to help put together/sponsor?  Send us a note at director at ms-jd.org.

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