Issue 38, Winter 2014

 What Men Need to Know

This year is starting with a burst of energy. The most exciting news is that my new book was published last month. Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know is written for men who want to help women advance into leadership. It calls on men to give women the kind of active, personal sponsorship needed to move to the top of an organization. It also tells them how to do it, addressing unconscious biases, overt fears and other factors that cause sponsors to overlook women in favor of men.

Book content and ordering information can be found at And be sure to visit our Facebook page,

In connection with the book's publication, many firms, bar associations and organizations are hosting “Breakfasts for Champions.” These events honor leaders who sponsor women and emphasize the importance of more men doing the same.

Several articles have also been published in connection with Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know.

Two upcoming events that I'm participating in will also present important new opportunities for lawyers:

The launch of On-Ramp Fellowship provides an opportunity for experienced women lawyers returning to the profession to obtain positions with law firms for a one-year, paid training contract.

The National Legal Mentoring Consortium is holding a national conference on May 1-3, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. As part of an outstanding program agenda, the NLMC is providing a platform for firms, bar associations, schools and other entities who run mentoring programs they want to highlight. 

In This Issue

National Conference on Mentoring in the Legal Profession

The 2014 National Legal Mentoring Consortium Conference on “Mentoring in Our Evolving Profession” will take place on May 1-3, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. This conference will bring together representatives from bar associations, courts, law schools, law firms, and other legal organizations who currently administer mentoring programs, are interested in starting a mentoring program, or simply have a passion for mentoring. I will be moderating a program entitled “Beyond the New Lawyer: Mentoring at Later Career Stages," and many other informative and innovative topics are also on the agenda. Please come!

As part of the outstanding conference agenda, time has been allotted for a series of PED (Professional and Educational Development) Talks, which are focused, powerful, high-impact presentations on a topic related to mentoring. Each presentation should give the audience a concise and powerful message related to mentoring philosophies, breakthroughs, best practices, successes, learning opportunities, or needs. 

All conference registrants are eligible and encouraged to submit proposals for the available 6-minute PED sessions. The proposals should: identify the proposed presenter, the focused topic related to mentoring that the presentation will address, any technology that will be utilized (given the 6 minute time limitation, text rich Power Point is discouraged but video and other technology is encouraged), and a brief description of the message to be shared.  Please submit any proposals—or questions—to Brad Morgan no later than April 1, 2014.

New Opportunity for Women Seeking to Return to Law Practice

I am pleased to be working with OnRamp Fellowship, a new, exciting and unique opportunity for experienced women lawyers who have taken a break from practicing law and now want to re-enter the profession. OnRamp Fellowship offers one-year paid fellowships with law firms. In this pilot year of the program four major law firms -- Sidley Austin, Hogan Lovells, Baker Botts, and Cooley -- are offering fellowships in 15 cities across the U.S., including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Palo Alto, and San Diego.

The goal is to give returning women lawyers an opportunity to broaden their legal experience, skills, and contacts while also increasing gender diversity in law firms. Applications are due March 7, so if you know any women who might want to apply, let them know right away. Learn more at

Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

 What Men Need to Know

Women are as smart and hard working as men. They hold similar ambitions and want career success as much as men do. Research conducted by McKinsey, Catalyst, Thomson Reuters and others have demonstrated clearly that gender diversity at the leadership level creates significant economic and institutional advantages. Yet most law firms have shamefully few women partners and leaders.

After decades of entering practice on a par with men, women have been unable to crack the 15% equity partner ceiling and they trail far behind men in leadership positions and compensation. Women represent only 4% of law firm chairs and managing partners and hold less than 20% of executive committee positions. They make approximately 30% less than male partners, even when they bill the same hours and have comparable books of business.

One of the main reasons women continue to lag behind men in the degree and pace of upward mobility is that they lack sponsors. Sponsors are powerful supporters who send career-enhancing opportunities your way, advocate for your promotion and groom you for leadership. More men than women get promoted not because of any inherent differences in ability or ambition between the sexes, but because far more men enjoy the sponsorship of powerful partners who help propel their careers upward.

My new book, Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know is intended to change this pattern. It is written specifically for men, especially those who want to support women but are not sure exactly what they can do to be of service. It explains the importance of sponsorship for women, how sponsorship differs from mentorship, and why it is vital for men, especially those in positions of leadership, to sponsor women for the good of their firms. It also discusses why men who are potential sponsors might favor men and avoid or overlook women. It provides advice, guidance and specific steps for men to take to increase their sponsorship of women. 

It is well established that mentorship is essential for career development. But research has shown that men receive greater career benefits than women do from mentors. The difference is that women receive career advice, guidance and emotional support from their mentors, but men receive far more active career support from theirs. While women are going to business development classes and learning to network with other women, men are being invited to business pitches, client meetings, and golf games with clients and influential businessmen. While women are spending time planning events for the firm’s women’s initiative, men are being given high visibility work projects. While men who have yet to bring in any business are being promoted based on their presumed potential to do better, women with the same track record are kept in place because they are presumed to be less effective and less committed. Men enjoy these and other advantages because their mentors act as sponsors, that is, they view the men as protégés, prepare them to be future leaders, and vigorously advocate for them to get important promotions, clients and leadership roles.

Research also shows that women who have senior-level sponsors get promoted at the same rate as men. But most sponsors are men, because sponsors need to have power and the people with power in law firms – equity partners, top leaders and rainmakers - are overwhelmingly men. And most of those men sponsor other men. Consequently, twice as many men have sponsors and those men continue to rise steadily to the top leadership slots while women are left behind.

It is no longer sufficient for men leading law firms simply to voice their support for women; their support is presumed. Few men in leadership positions would deny the importance of retaining and advancing high performing women. But many men are unsure about how to manage the ambiguities, concerns and complexities that exist in opposite-sex sponsorship. Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know removes that uncertainty and eliminates any excuses for favoring men over women when it comes to sponsoring high performers for leadership and promotion.

Breakfasts for Champions: Celebrating Men Who Champion Women

I have long argued that in order for firms to attain gender balance at the leadership level men must be actively engaged in the effort. Over time, it may happen without men’s involvement; Catalyst estimates that if progress continues at the present rate, it will happen in 2075. But few women are willing to wait that long – and few firms can afford to wait another 60+ years.

So how do we get men to take the lead and become involved? We need some new tools and strategies. We need to give men information and guidance about what they can do and bring them into our conversations. Women talk with each other about gender-related issues and concerns in initiatives, programs and conferences for women, but men have few forums where they can focus on these subjects from their perspective. We need to give them a chance to ask questions and express their concerns about opposite-sex sponsorship without fear of being criticized or labeled as insensitive, foolish or politically incorrect.

My new book, Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know, gives men the information they need to sponsor women. In connection with the book, many new initiatives are under way. Activities include facilitating small groups for men where they can ask questions and discuss their concerns in a safe environment; facilitating dialogues between men and women on sponsorship and gender issues; coaching for men who sponsor women or want to; and events that spotlight successful sponsorship relationships between men and women.

One of the most promising initiatives is “Breakfasts for Champions.” The first of these events was held in Chicago on February 6, at the offices of Reed Smith and sponsored by the Chicago Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law. The purpose of this event was to honor sponsors who have championed women and in doing so, contributed significantly to the women’s success. Based on submissions from their protégées, we featured three sponsors: Peter Baugher, sponsor of Jenny Waters, at Schopf & Weiss; Russell Eggert, sponsor of Sue Charles, at Lathrop & Gage; and Carolyn Rosenberg, sponsor of Kit Chaskin, at Reed Smith. The event was designed to literally bring men into the room and into the conversation. The invitation encouraged women to invite men to come and they did; men made up about a third of the large audience. 

The interactive format of a Breakfast for Champions offers opportunities to be heard and to learn from men and women in sponsor-protégée relationships. Women describe how their sponsors championed them and then sponsors are questioned about specific aspects of their sponsorship efforts. We discuss as a group the issues raised in the sponsor-protégée presentations and in my book, and conclude by eliciting ideas for encouraging more men to sponsor more women. By publicly spotlighting successful sponsors and their protégées, we establish men as role models for their colleagues, start to collect and document best practices, rebut the fear of complexity in opposite-sex sponsorship, and reinforce the benefits of sponsoring talented women. Similar events are planned in San Francisco and other Bay Area cities as well as other communities around the country.

I am currently scheduling book-related events and would be delighted to hear from you about holding a Breakfast for Champions in your area, speaking on sponsorship to your firm, or other opportunities that will expand sponsorship efforts for women.

Recent Publications

“Sponsors Are the New Mentors, Especially for Women,”, January 2014.

“Sponsor a Woman: Four Steps to Get Started,” Men Advocating Real Change, Jan 2014

“Turn your Mentors Into Sponsors,” The Glass Hammer, Feb 2014.

My articles about sponsorship are featured on the International Bar Association Law Firm Management Committee Toolkit,

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