Area lawyers gathered to attend the Women, Law & Leadership Symposium, hosted by the IndyBar Women and Law Division (WLD) on October 5 and 6, 2011 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Indianapolis.
The day-and-a-half-long event marked the WLD’s 25th Anniversary. For twenty-five years, WLD has worked to promote the advancement of women in the Indianapolis legal community by providing a variety of educational, networking, and philanthropic engagements and opportunities.
The event opened with a reception and dinner on October 5. The dinner featured Martha S. West, Professor Emerita from University of California-Davis, as keynote speaker. Professor West’s address was titled “Choices and Changes.” Her remarks on reproductive decision-making kept the audience buzzing the following day. Also at the dinner, WLD presented its annual Antoinette Dakin Leach award to the Honorable Margret Robb. Judge Robb, who was recently appointed Chief Judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals, impressed the audience with an inspiring address in which she remarked on the early hardships faced by women in law and the demonstrable progress that has been made in recent years.
On October 6, the Symposium began with a Table Topics breakfast, during which attendees enjoyed breakfast while participating in discussions on several timely self-improvement topics. The conference attendees next participated in a plenary session titled “Building Your Success,” featuring three panels composed almost entirely of past Antoinette Dakin Leach award winners. First, Ann Delaney, Monica Foster, and the Honorable Denise LaRue provided insight and guidance on personally defining success. Second, Abigail Kuzma, the Honorable Jane Magnus-Stinson, and Myra Selby discussed the importance of mentoring and advised regarding finding mentors and navigating the mentor-mentee relationship. Third, Deborah Daniels, Francina Dlouhy, and Heather Wilson relayed insightful and practical advice about how the attendees can brand and market themselves to improve their business development proficiency.
At mid-day, attendees gathered for the Symposium’s “Leadership Luncheon” featuring Roberta Liebenberg, a senior partner at Fine Kaplan and Black, RPC in Philadelphia and the immediate past chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. In her remarks, Ms. Liebenberg detailed how, despite comprising nearly 50 percent of law school student bodies for many years, the number of women in leadership roles in law firms continues to lag far behind men due to what she described as “implicit bias” that impacts many areas of law firm decision-making. Ms. Liebenberg shared with the audience her views on how organizations can begin to eradicate implicit bias as well as specific strategies to help women lawyers advance in law firms and other workplace settings.
Following lunch, the Symposium offered attendees their choice of CLE break-out sessions. Among the timely topics covered in the afternoon sessions was “Diversity as a Competitive Advantage,” featuring the nationally recognized legal scholar William Henderson. Marion County judges, Hon. Cale Bradford, Hon. Sheila Carlisle, and Hon. Heather Welch presented “In the Courtroom: Advice from the Bench.” A panel of five lawyers, including Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Lori Torres, presented “Human Trafficking: Closer to Home Than You Think.” A total of eight sessions led by panels of well-known lawyers from the Indianapolis legal community comprised the afternoon’s program.
The Symposium Planning Committee was pleased to receive sponsorship funding from its Gold Sponsor, Ice Miller LLP, and Silver Sponsors Cantrell Strenski & Mehringer and DeLaney & DeLaney LLC. Bronze sponsors included Baker & Daniels, Frank Law, Krieg DeVault, LewisWagner LLP, Spotlight Strategies, and Stewart & Irwin PC. Due to the generosity of several organizations, nine law students and recent law school graduates received scholarships that permitted them to attend the Symposium free of charge.
One Symposium presenter, Jim Dimos, partner at Frost Brown Todd, stated that he “enjoyed having the opportunity to participate in the conference. It was well done and I hope that the Division feels it was successful – from my perspective it certainly was.” Frank Law owner Leona Frank reflected that the Symposium “was amazing. The program descriptions did not do justice to the level of speaker and the phenomenal content.”
WLD’s goal in presenting the Symposium was to provide thought-provoking educational programs and an arena for area lawyers to come together to establish new relationships and strengthen existing ones. Thanks to the contributions and support of the dedicated members of the Symposium Planning Committee, the WLD Executive Committee, the IndyBar staff, the Symposium Sponsors, and the myriad of speakers, WLD’s goals were met and exceeded.•