Wither goes the proverbial “pipeline” of women to the top of the professions? The National Association of Women Lawyers revisited the “pipeline theory” of women’s advancement at a recent conference in Dallas. “The Pipeline to Equity Partnership” featured keynoter Kim Askew, a Dallas-based partner with K&L Gates LLP. Kim is nothing short of a rock star. (If you ever have the chance to meet or hear her, run–don’t walk.) Kim graciously agreed to share with us a conference summary:
“Women lawyers are making progress on increasing the ranks of equity partnership, but it has been a slow climb.
Women comprise about 18% of equity and non-equity partnership among the Am Law 200 firms. They are about 15% of equity partners, but that percentage has not increased for the last 20 years.
Despite the sobering numbers, the outlook is bright. There are many powerful women in the equity ranks and more will break that barrier. Here are some of the tips recently discussed at the National Association of Women Lawyers’ “Pipeline to Equity Partner” program held on Sept. 20 in Dallas.
1. Build a book of business. It is the surest way to equity partnership. Gender bias and firm politics seem to matter less when women lawyers control books of business.
2. Have a vision for your career and follow it.
3. Understand the business of law.
4. Look for a platform that will support your advancement to equity partner. Are there role models? Is there mentoring? Does the firm promote leadership and business development training?
5. Invest in you. Learn marketing and business development skills. Develop a business plan. If the firm does not pay for you to learn these skills, you pay! It is all about you!!!!
6. Women invest a lot more in non-billable hours than men. Make sure your non-billables are valued by the firm. There is a lot more value in being on the management committee than the happy life committee.
7. Look out for No. 1. Women must take control of their own careers and define that path that leads them to success.”