Issue 39, Summer 2014

It has been gratifying to see the favorable response to my book, Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know, and the growing enthusiasm for book-related activities and events. This issue of Management Solutions describes some of the ways that firms, organizations and professional associations are shining the spotlight on men’s sponsorship of women. 

Many readers of Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know have asked me for permission to reprint some Tables that they find especially useful in explaining the difference between mentorship and sponsorship. With the permission of my publisher,, I am making those Tables available here.  

This issue also includes an article published in the NALP Bulletin in which I argue that women’s initiatives should include men and not focus only on women; reviews and articles about Sponsoring Women and my coaching work; as well as some of my upcoming speaking engagements.

The next few months will take me to many cities, including New York, Minneapolis, Boston, Law Vegas and Washington, DC. If you would like to get together while I’m in your area, or if you would like to discuss some of the ways I can help your firm, please contact me.

In This Issue

Events that Celebrate and Promote Sponsorship: 4 Examples

I am delighted that interest in sponsoring women is growing and giving me the opportunity to promote women’s advancement in many different kinds of professional environments. To address a variety of audiences, industries and organizations, I have developed several kinds of sponsorship events. Significantly, these events are drawing men into the discussion and hopefully, into action. In many jurisdictions, the programs qualify for CLE credit in elimination of bias. Below are examples of how four different organizations with very different constituencies honored men who sponsor women and inspired more men to do so.

Would your firm, bar or professional association be interested in hosting an event to promote sponsorship? Contact me and let’s talk about what we can do together to thank the men and women who help women succeed and to encourage others to do the same.

1. Seattle Breakfast for Champions

We had a very successful Breakfast for Champions in Seattle in April, hosted by Megan Muir and law firm DLA Piper. The 75 people who attended came from many different fields, including law, business, banking, finance, venture capital, recruitment, engineering, and academia. It was a lively group and they participated actively in the discussion. 

We honored three sponsors and each of the protégées recounted different experiences and reasons to celebrate their sponsors’ support:

  • Kathleen Grohman, an associate at Cozen O’Connor, honored Binh Nguyen, Corporate Counsel at BECU Tukwila Financial Center. They met when Kathleen was still in college and contemplating law school. In the years that followed, Binh helped Kathleen find internships that gave her experience in different fields of law practice; prepared Kathleen for law firm interviews; and connected her with important law and business contacts in the community.
  • Amy Kosterlitz, currently a coach and consultant after a 30-year career as a lawyer and leader at GordonDerr LLP, honored her former law firm partner Peter Buck. Amy emphasized how Pete helped her build self-confidence and leadership abilities by pushing her out of her comfort zone and promoting her capabilities to the male real estate developer clients who were reluctant to have a young, petite, woman take the lead on their cases. She also noted how he helped her manage the tension of juggling work and motherhood, and modeled a professional life that made time for personal interests and activities.
  • Eve Riskin, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the University of Washington College of Engineering, honored Dr. Robert Gray, Professor of Electrical Engineering Emeritus at Stanford. Eve’s description of how Bob Gray supported her career was set out in a 17-page document that she and several other women engineers submitted to the White House in 2002 when they nominated him for a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, which he received. Eve recounted the many ways Bob supported women engineering students and Ph.D. candidates over several decades by creating a climate where they felt safe from harassment and discrimination; where sexist comments and behaviors were not tolerated; where cooperation was valued more than competition; and where women were able to thrive in their professional pursuits.  

2. Santa Cruz County Bar Association program

Santa Cruz County has fewer lawyers than many large law firms, and most of those lawyers practice as solos or in small firms. Yet 74 lawyers – 42 men and 32 women – turned out to learn about the challenges that women face in advancing to leadership and what men can do to eliminate obstacles and smooth the way.

Several women sent me stories of the men and women who had been their mentors, advocates and sponsors. Two women spoke to the audience about their champions:

  • Laura Walther, of Cartwright, Scruggs, Fulton & Walther and three-term President of the Santa Cruz County Trial Lawyers Association, highlighted the role that the late Morton Marcus played in her career. Marcus was a college English professor who showed Laura that she may have been a top student, but she had a lot to learn, especially about persuasive writing. His critical red pen was coupled with enormous support and encouragement, and she credits him with using his influence to help her receive a full scholarship to law school and getting her off to a strong start in her legal career.
  • Angel Hess, a solo practitioner, honored several men who have helped her career take shape: Thornton Kontz, Martin Nichols, Robert Frandeen, Creighton Mendivil, Nathan Benjamin, Courtney Leibrock and Henry Niles. She singled out Thornton Kontz, a former Santa Cruz County Bar Association President, as a champion who put his reputation on the line by supporting her application to the Lawyer Referral Service panel before she had the requisite experience to qualify without a backer. This enabled her to receive client referrals from the LRS, which was a major step in starting her law practice.

3. Watermark Global Webinar

Watermark invited me to present a webinar for its sponsor companies throughout the world. Watermark is a community of executive women who have risen to the top of their fields and come together to connect, develop and advocate for the advancement of women in the workforce. The July webinar was designed for men who want to know how they can sponsor women effectively. More than 270 people registered for the webinar; about 25% of them were men and during the Q & A period, most of the questions came from men. 

4. Program for Women: Why and How to Find Sponsors

I recently conducted a teleconference for women about why mentorship and sponsorship are important, how mentors and sponsors differ, and how to find both. The women were the first group of Fellows in the On-Ramp Fellowship, which provides opportunities in law firms for experienced women lawyers who want to re-enter the profession after taking time out. This program, which has been presented on-site in firms as well as remotely by web and telephone conference, addresses women's need to learn about the importance and dynamics of sponsorship. 

Mentorship vs. Sponsorship: Visual resource

People often ask me to distinguish between mentoring and sponsorship. I have written several explanations, but many people have told me that three Tables from my new book, Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know, are especially helpful. With permission of the publisher,, you can download the Tables here.  The book provides a more detailed explanation. Another discussion of mentorship and sponsorship can be found in my 2013 book, Lawyers’ Professional Development: The Legal Employer’s Comprehensive Guide, 2nd Edition, and in this summary of the distinctions between coaching, mentoring and sponsorship.

Recent Publications

My article Achieving Gender Balance Depends on Men” was published in the July 2014 NALP Bulletin. The article argues that solving the persistent problem of gender imbalance at partner and leadership levels should be reframed as a strategic, high priority business objective and that women’s initiatives should welcome men and make them part of a firmwide team effort to achieve that objective. NALP has kindly granted permission to make the article available here. 

Read Susan Smith Blakely’s review of Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know at and

Jamie Jackson Spannhake wrote an article about Professional Development Coaches. I was one of the coaches she featured. “Get the Career You Want with a Professional Development Coach,” Connecticut Lawyer, July/August 2014  

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Upcoming Events

Sponsoring Women: Book Presentation

September 3, 2014

The New York Women's Bar Association Foundation has invited me to discuss my book at a breakfast event being held at The Cornell Club in New York City.

Corporate Counsel Symposium

October 15, 2014

On October 15, I will moderate a panel on advancing the careers of women lawyers in both private practice and corporate law departments at the Dorsey & Whitney Corporate Counsel Seminar in Minneapolis.

Futures Conference

October 16, 2014 - October 17, 2014

The Futures Conference of the College of Law Practice Management will take place in Boston this year. I will be a break-out group facilitator, and also look forward to both induction of new Fellows and presentation of the InnovAction Awards.

Association of Legal Administrators Conference

November 4, 2014

I will be presenting two programs at the Association of Legal Administrators 2014 Human Resource Management Conference for Legal Professionals in Las Vegas on November 4. One program is about mentoring for leadership development and succession; the other is about engaging men in advancing women.

Professional Development Institute

December 4, 2014 - December 5, 2014

At this year's PDI, I will speak on the topic of mentoring for leadership succession. My co-presenters will be Rebecca Normand-Hochman, founder and Director of the Institute of Mentoring, and Kit Chaskin, Global Director of the Women's Initiative Network at Reed Smith. 

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