Calling all lawyers — make March the month you do something to help advance women in the legal profession. Every action towards advancement could ignite a significant change, whether within yourself, your firm, or the legal profession.
There are many approaches to work towards advancement. From an awareness point of view, here are three ways to get you started:
1. Attend an Event Aimed at Advancing Women
March 8 is International Women’s Day. You’ve likely noticed the many women-focused events happening in March. Here are a few which I’ve learned about via social media:
- Women, Race and the Law: Challenges and Opportunities, presented by the Ontario chapter of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL Ontario) on March 1, 2018 in Toronto;
- Challenges and Opportunities: Racialized Women Working in the Law on March 5, 2018 in Ottawa. This event is a collaboration the Women’s Legal Mentorship Program (WLMP) uOttawa chapter, the University of Ottawa, Black Law Students’ Association – University of Ottawa, University of Ottawa – South Asian Law Student Association, Asian Law Students’ Society – University of Ottawa, South Asian Women in the Law – Mentorship Program, Middle Eastern Law Student Association – University of Ottawa, and Latin American Law Student Association;
- She Leads: International Women’s Day — Networking & Game Changers Panel, presented by WeWork on March 8, 2018 in Toronto; and
- International Women’s Day event on March 13, 2018 in Toronto. This event is a partnership of the Law Society of Ontario, the Women’s Law Association of Ontario, the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, the Legal Education and Action Fund, and the Women Lawyers Forum of the Ontario Bar Association.
Will you be hosting, speaking at, or attending an event aimed at understanding the challenges women in law face and empowering women in law to succeed in the legal profession? If you are, share on social media your story, lessons learned from participants, and other event moments. For some sharing tips, read my post “Are You Pairing Up Twitter With Events You Speak at or Attend?”
It’s important to ask yourself what will you do after the event based on the presented topics and discussions you have during the networking time. Then do it!
2. Continue the Conversation
Feel inspired to share the stories and tips of others from an event you attended? Or, better yet, have you been thinking of telling your personal story? Take the time to self-reflect and find the courage to share your own story and words of wisdom by writing a blog post or LinkedIn article.
Readers like hearing good news stories with tips for success. For example, have you been following the new blog series “Women Leading in Law” by Erin Cowling (freelance lawyer/writer and founder of Flex Legal Network)? It’s a way for her to, as she describes, “[profile] amazing women succeeding in the legal profession”. Each profiled lawyer reveals her story about her path to law and where she is today. Although some key challenges are described, the profiled lawyers discuss opportunities for women in law and provide advice to women starting out their legal career. I’m delighted to be one of the lawyers profiled in this series.
Continue the conversation by getting together with others you’ve met at an event or who have otherwise shared their stories. Discuss what you’ve seen or heard that has worked and not worked in addressing challenges that women in law face, and how you could work together to overcome a challenge. Share the mission and timeline on social media; you may be surprised by the response of people who feel the same and want to participate.
3. Follow Women in Law on Social Media
Support women in law by following them on social media. Depending on what the lawyer shares and engages with, you may be able to learn more than what her legal expertise is. For example, you may learn what her concerns and desired outcomes are in terms of diversity and inclusion, as well as open your eyes to appreciate a different viewpoint.
Help women in law expand their network by letting your network know about women lawyers to follow on social media. For example, on a Friday on Twitter, use the hashtag #FollowFriday in your tweet when suggesting women lawyers to follow.
For women in law, review your social media profiles now. Get a head start on spring cleaning them by reading my post “Social Media Spring Clean to Stay on Track”. Also, don’t forget to “Celebrate on Social Media Your Achievement of an Award”.
March will be an exciting month for us. All lawyers: be a listener, be a supporter, and be a leader by telling your (or her) story! Think about a woman in law you can work with on a file of significance, mentor, or give a shout out to. Think about who in your network you can reach out to in terms of arranging a business development introduction, board involvement, speaking or writing opportunity, or mentoring relationship, for a female lawyer. Think about who and what inspires you, your goals and career path, and share your story. I look forward to reading more good news stories, and further learning about tools and resources to empower women lawyers to succeed. Let me know on social media what you learn and who you think has made real progress in advancing women in the legal profession.