Raising the bar: Women's Bar Association of Illinois launches professional development program

Autumn will usher in a season of learning for attorneys in the Prairie State.

Autumn will usher in a season of learning for attorneys in the Prairie State.

A new leadership program has been developed by the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (WBAI) to help women lawyers develop their professional network and strengthen their leadership capabilities. The program is a first-of-its kind leadership institute which will take place over the course of six weeks, and commences next month.

The program launches on October 13th at the McDermott Will & Emery LLP’s Chicago office and includes dinner and networking. Participants are chosen by application, with preference given to WBAI, Illinois State Bar Association and Coalition members. 

The Women’s Bar Association of Illinois is the only statewide bar association for women in Illinois, and serves to lobby for the interests of women through involvement with legislative initiatives and policies. Members of the association include partners and associates of large, medium, and small firms, sole practitioners, law professors, judges, political icons, public servants and in-house counsel.



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“Women lawyers throughout Illinois and at all levels are a force in our legal industry. This Institute will help them enhance their leadership skills in an environment of supportive, smart, successful women,” said Andrea Kramer, a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery, program developer and co-chair of the WBAI’s Leadership Institute. 

In addition to Kramer, the Leadership Institute’s co-chairs include a several other notables in the Illinois legal field including Starr Rayford; Deanna Blair/Blair Caravelli Irmen; Nidhi Srivastava/ Taft Stettinius & Hollister LP; Linda K. Myers/Kirland & Ellis and Sharon Nowokowski/Posinelli PC.  The Institute is sponsored by the law firms of Blair Caravelli Irmen; Jenner & Block LLP; McDermott Will & Emery; Polsinelli PC; Taft LP and Kirkland & Ellis as well as the investment management firm Alliance Berstein; the ISBA Women and the Law Committee; the Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law; and WLMA (Women’s Leadership and Mentoring Alliance).

All programs will be held at Chicago loop locations and include:

·         Program Kick-off -- Tuesday, October 13th:  Cocktails and a progressive dinner to set the stage for Institute objectives and to allow participants the opportunity to express their personal goals for the Institute.

·         Overcoming Gender Bias and Developing Inclusive WorkplacesTuesday, November 10, 2015:  This workshop will help women identify the gender biases they face and provide them with techniques to overcome such biases to advance in their careers.  It will also set out some simple suggestions to make workplaces more inclusive.

·         Grit, Perseverance, A Positive Mindset, and Developing as a LeaderTuesday, December 8, 2015:  This workshop will address recent social science research on the value of grit and positive mindsets for women lawyers.  Participants will receive personalized suggestions as to how to strengthen and maintain positive perspectives for career success.

·         Rainmaking, Marketing and Developing Your Brand -- Monday, January 11, 2016:  This interactive workshop will offer advice and guidance on business development, allowing participants to develop individual marketing plans.  It will also include a discussion about rainmaking by senior women lawyers.

·         Community Involvement, Board Service and Taking Control of Your CareerMonday, February 8, 2016:  This workshop will address ways women lawyers can further develop their leadership skills by participating in non-profit and corporate boards as well as presenting a wide range of career possibilities for women lawyers.

·         Generational and Gender Communication DifferencesMonday, March 14, 2016:  This workshop will focus on generational and gender communication issues in the workplace.  It will provide practical techniques to effectively work in multigenerational workplaces and to use gender communication tendencies to their advantage.

Applications for participation are available at  www.wbaillinois.org.  For more information about the Institute, contact Monique Austin at WBAI@WBAIIllinois.org or 312-341-8530.

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Alexis Harrison

Alexis Harrison is a Connecticut-based writer and public relations professional whose career spans both print journalism and broadcast news. Alexis started her professional life as...

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