Read to Lead: How a Book Club Can Drive Diversity

We recently announced that GenLead will be offering through Ms. JD an Inter-generational Women Lawyers’ Facilitated Group Discussion, the current series of which will be complimentary and will focus on Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. This week, I offer the backstory behind this passion project and invite you to share if and how my observations and ideas resonate with your experiences as a woman lawyer.

We all are witness to the dearth of change in the diversity statistics and opportunities for women and minorities in the law to advance in a fulfilling way. A recent report by the National Association of Women Lawyers (with a wonderful infographic to boot!) is the latest in a regular succession of reports and studies to find that women remain woefully underrepresented in equity and non-equity partnership as well as in other leadership roles, and continue to make significantly less for the same (actually, greater) amount of work. For intersectional women (e.g., women who also are racial/ethnic minorities or who have a disability), the outcomes and experiences are far more alarming. At the same time, the advice being given to women on how to succeed has remained largely unchanged from the advice given to me 16 years ago when I entered to profession, largely because the rules of the game have not changed.

In my observation and in my experience working with thousands of law students over the past decade, the newer generations entering the workforce are the game-changers who will not stay with an employer who does not meaningfully engage them, support their professional development, and invite their innovations. We older generations need to acknowledge this reality in order to develop effective retention, development, and inclusion strategies.

Our profession is at a crossroads, and the rules of the game must change to create equal opportunity for women (and folks of other diverse backgrounds) and to foster significant and sorely needed improvement in diversity outcomes in the law. This is going to require innovative approaches and experiments. This Inter-generational Women Lawyers’ Facilitated Group Discussion series is one such innovation that can make a difference on many fronts, including mentorship, sponsorship, community-building, continuing education, motivation, group dynamics, cross-generational communication, and reduction of implicit bias.

If you are a woman of a generation already in a leadership position in the law, you may be looking for ways to continue to grow, or you may be trying to develop approaches you and your organization can take to better understand and engage the younger generation of lawyers, who come with a very different approach and set of skills. If you are a woman of said younger generation, you may be looking for a mentor who will hear your authentic voice and help you navigate advancement and fulfillment in the legal profession. If so, Ms. JD and I believe that this facilitated discussion group may offer you that, in addition (of course!) to the discussion gems provided by Ms. Sandberg’s Lean In.

If you are interested in participating, please complete the following quick and easy application at the below link by March 18: If you cannot participate, but are interested in sharing your perspectives on these issues, I invite you to post a comment below or email me at


Neha Sampat is founder, consultant, and coach at GenLead, where she focuses on diversity, leadership, and professional development. She received her JD from UC Berkeley School of Law, after which she practiced technology licensing and education law and later served as Dean of Students and Adjunct Professor of Law & Leadership at Golden Gate University. She brings to GenLead vast experience supporting and supervising thousands of diverse students and staff and also successfully collaborating with stakeholders of varying backgrounds.

Learn more about GenLead at

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