WBAI Women in Law Summit 2019

Moving the Needle Advancing Women in Law

On April 5, 2019, the WBAI hosted its 2nd annual Women in Law Summit.  Building off last January’s Inaugural Summit, this year’s programming focused on skill-building, networking, analysis, and group discussion designed to advance women in the legal profession.

The day began with an enlightening workshop conducted by Andrea Kramer and Alton Harris, titled “It’s Not You, It’s the Workplace,” named after their upcoming book.  Andie & Al discussed why women’s workplace relationships can be challenging and examined the circumstances that give rise to these work environments.  Andie & Al explored actionable steps to overcome and avoid workplace conflict and build on the positive aspects of women working with women and provided attendees with strategies and tools to succeed regardless of their environment.

Next, Elizabeth Winiarski led a panel discussion titled “The Art of Self-Promotion – Making the Ask.”  The panel featured Susan Levy, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Northern Trust, Yondi Morris-Andrews, Founding Partner, Knight, Morris & Reddick Law Group, Tracy Ferak, Partner, Drinker Biddle & Reath, and Nubia Willman, Supervising Attorney, Legal Assistance Foundation.  Panelists provided diverse perspectives on self-promotion for women lawyers and discussed strategies for women lawyers to be successful in the how, when, and why of making the ask.

During the afternoon session, Amy Gardner of Apochromatik led an interactive workshop on “Political IQ: Your Secret Career Weapon.”  While many people hear “high political IQ” and imagine a person who can recite the name of every member of Congress, high political IQ actually means you have the combination of political skills and will that help some professionals become more successful than the rest. These political skills aren’t kissing babies and raising money; in the legal field, networking, developing your executive presence, and building your self-awareness are all political skills that can help you build the career and network that you want. As Amy explained, every lawyer can strengthen her executive presence, networking skills, and self-awareness, which in turn build your influence and increase your political IQ.  Amy guided participants through a workbook, identifying specific skills worth developing, and providing pragmatic and practical steps to do so.

Courtney Wylie, Chair of the newly-established WBAI Mental Health & Wellness Committee, led a session entitled Harnessing Your Inner Critic. Courtney acknowledged that we all have inner critics that can be full of doubt, frustration, or disapproval, which can hinder our ability to think creatively, take risks, manage stress and approach difficult situations with confidence and ease. She provided ways to practice identifying negative or self-defeating thought patterns and explored the research behind working with negative thought patterns, such as neuroscience, cognitive behavior, mindfulness, and positive psychology.  Attendees were able to ask questions and share experiences while gaining practical tools to harness their inner critic, manage stress more effectively, and improve their overall well-being and legal practice.

The final session included a collaborative discussion between panelists and the audience regarding how Men and Women Create Positive Change toward equality and create opportunity in the workplace.  Moderated by Peter Bensinger of Bartlitt Beck, panelists included Heidi Hennig Rowe, Deputy Practice Group Leader of Construction at Schiff Hardin LLP, Patrick Salvi, Founding Partner of Salvi Schostok & Pritchard, and Kal Shah, Intellectual Property Litigation Practice Group Co-Chair at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP.  Panelists shared their views on legal practice in the era of the #MeToo movement, how men can be allies for women in the workplace, and how women can create opportunities for their female counterparts.

Thank you to the John Marshall Law School for hosting the 2nd Annual Summit and thank you to our generous sponsors:  Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff; Barlit Beck; and Drinker Biddle & Reath.  The Summit was chaired by Sarah King of Clifford Law Offices, Andrea Kramer of McDermott, Will and Emery LLP, Elizabeth Winiarski of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP, Courtney Wylie of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, and Kate Conway of Power Rogers & Smith, LLP.

Kate Conway is a trial lawyer with the law firm of Power Rogers & Smith where she represents injured people and their families in cases involving wrongful death, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, automobile and trucking collisions. She also serves as an Officer of the WBAI Board of Directors.