Speak Up, Find Mentors and Other Tips From Women Attorneys at the Top

The advice that some of the nation's most successful women attorneys? Ladies: Speak up and take risks.

Ladies: Speak up and take risks.

That's the advice that some of the nation's most successful women attorneys offered hundreds of attendees at an inaugural event this month at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law.

The event, hosted by Women LEAD, featured some big names: California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Judges Kim McLane Wardlaw and Sandra Ikuta.

Michelle Banks, chairwoman of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, founded Women LEAD two years ago with Nancy Abell, a Los Angeles partner and former global head of the employment law department at Paul Hastings. "It's all aimed at improving the representation and inclusion and equity of women in our profession, which is woefully represented, particularly at the top," Banks said in an interview.

So listen up. Here are some tips on what women attorneys can do to fill that gap:

  • "Backbone is really important. It trumped, so to speak (pun intended) the fact that I was wearing a skirt."—Nori Gerardo Lietz, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and founder of Areté Capital, a real estate advisory firm.

  • "You're going to have to be that much louder."—Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chief justice, California Supreme Court.

  • "Treat feedback as the most precious gift you've been given."—Emily Sullivan, vice president of employment law at Ross Stores Inc.

  • "You don't have to have your biggest mentors and advocates be women."—Nasym Afsari, general counsel of Montrose Environmental Group Inc.

Originally published on The Recorder. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Contributing Author

Amanda Bronstad

Amanda Bronstad is a reporter at Inside Counsel affiliate The National Law Journal. You can reach her at abronstad@alm.com.

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