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ABA Academy Empowers, Trains Women for Leadership in Legal Profession

CHICAGO, April 16, 2010 – Highly-accomplished and prominent women lawyers and judges from around the country will share their expertise with up-and-coming women lawyers looking to take their careers to the next level during the fourth Women in Law Leadership Academy April 29-30 in Philadelphia.

Sponsored by the _ Commission on Women in the Profession and the ABA Young Lawyers Division, the conference offers interactive and informative programs featuring a distinguished roster of women role models, including Lynn Laverty Elsenhans, chairman and chief executive officer of Sunoco, Inc.; Mary E. Snapp, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Microsoft Corporation; Laura Stein, senior vice president and general counsel of The Clorox Company; Gail A. Lione, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Harley-Davidson, Inc.; and Michele Coleman Mayes, senior vice president and general counsel of Allstate Insurance Company.

The curriculum for the two-day academy focuses on developing the leadership skills and rainmaking abilities of young women lawyers that will help them navigate their way to a more fulfilling and rewarding career.  One of the highlights is a live webcast of the “Advice from the Bench” program, which will offer practical tips and best practices for effective oral arguments, opening and closing statements, and communication with the court, opposing counsel and the jury.  Click here to learn more.

Recent studies demonstrate that women are grossly underrepresented in top levels of the legal profession, as compared to men.  Although women have been graduating from law schools at nearly the same rate as men for the past two decades, women constitute only 16 percent of law firm equity partners, 15 percent of general counsels of Fortune 500 companies and 19.2 percent of law school deans.

Roberta D. Liebenberg, chair of the Commission on Women in the Profession explained, “The continued high rate of attrition of women lawyers demonstrates that the leaky pipeline still exists, and programs like the WILL Academy are critically important.  The conference provides a unique opportunity for young women lawyers to gain invaluable insights and learn business development and networking skills that will help them achieve success and become future leaders of the profession.”

The full program agenda is at http://www.abanet.org/women/leadershipacademy/2010/programagenda.html.

Sessions include:

“Attributes of a Leader,” with speakers Mary B. Cranston, senior partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP; Julie M. Howard, president & COO, Navigant Consulting, Inc.; Carolyn Lamm, ABA president and partner, White & Case LLP; and Michele Coleman Mayes, senior vice president and general counsel, Allstate Insurance Company.

“Navigating to Partnership, Rainmaking, and Succession Planning,” with panelists Hilarie Bass, global operating shareholder, Greeberg Traurig, LLP; Pamela A. Bresnahan, partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP; Gail A. Lione, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary, Harley-Davidson, Inc.; and Lorna G. Schofield, partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

Alternatives to Law Firm Practice,” will feature JoAnne A. Epps, dean, Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law; Marcia Devins Greenberger, founder and co-president, National Women’s Law; and Mary L. Smith, partner, Schoeman, Updike, Kaufman & Scharf LLP.

Advice From the Bench,” featuring Judge Judith S. Kaye, of counsel, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and former chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals; Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas; Judge M. Margaret McKeown, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; and Judge Norma L. Shapiro, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Restructuring Law Firms in a Down Market:  Alternative Models & Work/Life Flexibility as Part of the Solution,” with panelists Patricia K. Gillette, partner, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; Carol A. Petren, executive vice president and general counsel, CIGNA Corporation; and Lauren Stiller Rikleen, senior partner, Bowditch & Dewey, LLP and executive director, Bowditch Institute for Women’s Success.

Note to editors:  Accredited reporters are welcome to attend the academy for free.  For credential guidelines click here. Contact Julie Brown, ABA Division for Media Relations and Communication Services, , .

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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Learn More About:  Women and the Law / Gender Bias