Women in the legal profession quickly learn that it is important to support each other and collaborate in order to achieve your goals and advance your career.
In a summary of research on women in the workplace, Renee Cullinan, CEO and co-founder of Stop Meeting Like This, concludes that women carry a disproportionate burden of collaboration within the workplace.
Today, women in the legal profession recognize the importance of supporting and collaborating with each other to achieve success. Cullinan's article goes on to say that her findings show that “women are more likely to care for the group,” and that “women are more likely to self-isolate during work hours because they feel guilty or selfish about doing so.” “They are less likely to have the time to focus on their top priorities.” . (This finding is supported by research showing that guilt is generally a female trait.) Even if women are willing to give up their time, they are more likely to give it to someone in need. ”
Not surprisingly for many women, the Women in Law Initiative helps foster collaboration and support for women seeking to advance their legal careers.
Christy Crider, chair of Baker Donelson's Women's Initiative and Healthcare Litigation Group and a member of the firm's board of directors, said Baker Donelson places a strategic emphasis on women's empowerment. do. “The Women's Initiative has a strong strategic plan that has been honed over the past 10 years, and the Women's Initiative is comprised of approximately 50 experienced male and female lawyers and business professionals who are passionate about empowering women. We have a leadership team,” Kreider said.
“We developed a groundbreaking, award-winning business book because we understand that reading extensive business books is the fastest way to progress. women's equity It’s a six-year-old program,” she explains. “During the year-long program, you will take a class of 14 female income shareholders who are looking to become equity shareholders within the next three to four years. Throughout the year, you will be led by shareholders, business leaders, and coaches. , we run programs on topics related to building a book of business, such as identifying targets, collaborating, selling expertise across an enterprise, and how to turn a single thing into a business.We are clients for life.”
Many law firms have women's initiatives or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Leaders of these groups then discussed the many challenges that individuals still face, including:
- The compensation model is not set up to share credits.
- partner leaving their Connecting a client to a favorite young (and often white male) colleague trained to take over that client.
- Lack of billable time frames to manage women's efforts.and
- Lack of cooperation by those who have been successful before.
In other words, companies may have the best intentions in establishing these initiatives, but they become part of the company's strategic structure and the credit of the people who lead and manage these initiatives. Until this is approved, the emphasis will be on billable hours and initiation. . Unfortunately, this dynamic results in missed opportunities to create a diverse, inclusive, and collaborative environment that ultimately benefits all members.
Still, many corporate members feel a sense of camaraderie among their colleagues. Carrie Johnson, shareholder at Brownstein, Hyatt, Faber & Schreck and chair of the firm's Women's Leadership Initiative, said, It's full of women. I'm sure some women don't have similar experiences, but I spend my days surrounded by women who do everything they can to uplift others. I’m grateful for that.”
Is it easy to do business with female buyers of legal services? Some people have suggested that it might be. “Women are far too often oriented toward solving problems, rather than approaching them as a zero-sum game of win or lose,” Johnson says.
Baker Donelson's Kreider added: “There was no difference in the ease or difficulty of doing business with customers based on gender.'' The key in both situations is to continue to listen and ask questions so that you can provide exactly what the client needs now and in the future. ”
Cullinan's article describes other interesting findings. she writes:
Pam Heim, a researcher, consultant, and author, studies gender differences and has published her findings in several books. Her research reveals important differences in the way men and women think about collaboration. She found that women were more likely to agree with the statement, “Being a good team player means helping all of her co-workers do what they need to do.” In contrast, men are more likely to agree with the statement, “Being a good team player means understanding your position and playing well.” In organizations that accomplish work through informal project teams or have overlapping responsibilities, this difference in perspective affects how men and women collaborate.
The challenges women face in business development today include, of course, the issue of time, which is often the biggest challenge for anyone. “From the youngest lawyer to the most seasoned rainmaker, balance is an inescapable goal for women lawyers,” says Kreider. “In our time, there are so many pull-ins. In my experience, with the encouragement of a good mentor, women can intuitively develop their businesses.”
The challenge, of course, is finding the time to create these business development opportunities. While developing your business development strategy, other tasks often take up your time. For all lawyers, succeeding in business development requires intention and ruthless, consistent execution, which can be extremely difficult due to the competing time demands placed on all of us, she says. added.
Brownstein Hyatt's Johnson added that other challenges we face stem from the fact that “most decision-makers are older men.” While many people are happy to hire women, there are still fundamental headwinds where people like me are not represented in the customer base. ”
But today, more companies are recognizing the demand for outside counsel for diverse teams. and That they themselves need to follow their own advice. “We agree that we need to do a better job.” I) Build your own diverse team, ii) We are hiring more diverse outside counsel,” explains a diverse member of Google's in-house counsel. “We are all committed to working together outside of historical norms to be more inclusive of women and minority lawyers.”
In fact, some law firms have made in-house counsel responsible for completing lengthy RFPs that require elaborate disclosures about the staffing of women and minority lawyers. “Change is happening, but it is very slow,” adds a member of the internal team.
And a focus on collaboration certainly helps guide the process. But to that end, it's important to realize that success here is a two-way street. “It's important to explore both women's and men's perspectives,” Kreider said, adding that men have been great mentors throughout her career as well. “The most successful leadership relationships I've ever had have been mutual. In other words, we were in this relationship to help each other. Closer to home, I also appreciate the mentors who take the time to support me; they have star power.”
Realizing the benefits of collaboration across diverse teams requires leadership and commitment. Creating an environment where everyone matters and everyone strives to support each other's success will definitely benefit your law firm in the long run. And most certainly, this success will be fueled by women who support other women.