Issue 40, Fall 2014

This is a wonderfully busy time! The interest in sponsorship is growing as more firms and companies realize the important part it can play in promoting gender balance at top organizational levels. At the same time, mentoring remains in the spotlight because of its central role in professional development. I have produced several new resources on both subjects and in this issue of Management Solutions, I am pleased to offer them to you:

  • A short paper that you can distribute to mentors on why and how to listen to mentees.
  • An article on leaders mentoring leaders.
  • A podcast on men, women and sponsorship.
  • A chapter from a new publication on the vital role of men in women’s career advancement.

Survey: With my colleague Kenneth Imo, Director of Diversity at WilmerHale, I am conducting a survey on law firm sponsorship programs. A link is provided below if you are interested in participating.

The holidays are coming! It’s not too soon to start thinking about holiday gifts for colleagues, contacts and clients. Two of my books make particularly good business gifts during the holidays and at any time of year: Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know and Women on Top: The Woman’s Guide to Leadership and Power in Law Firms. You can find descriptions, ordering information and links to both on my website.

Roundtables: Membership is now open for two vital Roundtables for law firm leaders.

If you would like to join either Roundtable, or if you would like more information, please contact me. 

New diversity training resource: My friend and colleague Vernā Myers has produced A Day in the Life ILE, an innovative interactive learning tool that helps learners experience a workday through the eyes of diverse individuals. To learn more about the software and view a demonstration, contact Jane Bermont at, (443) 438-7060.

In This Issue

Mentoring and Sponsorship Resources

(1) Mentors need to listen

This is the time of year that many firms give special attention to mentoring. Here is an article you can distribute to mentors in your firm to remind them that listening is a critical part of the mentoring process:

Want to be a good mentor? Listen up! Mentoring may be an age-old process, but that doesn’t mean that everyone does it well. Most partners enjoy mentoring junior lawyers and fancy themselves good at it. They like to think they can have a positive influence on a younger lawyer’s career by giving advice, sharing insights about how they became successful, and telling stories about their experiences. After all, they have the wisdom that comes with years of practice and professional success, and they have inside knowledge about how the firm works and what its expectations are for associates. Because they are expected to advise and they have so much to share, mentors traditionally talk much more than they listen. And that’s where they go wrong… Download my PDF file to read more.

(2) Your Old Guard is leaving. Are your new leaders ready to take over?

Talent Think Tank is a new blog on talent management topics and I’m pleased to be one of the contributors. My recent submission is about why established leaders should be mentoring new ones:

Leaders Teaching Leaders: The Power of Mentoring. How is your firm preparing its new leaders? The need to do it is becoming urgent. A NALP study of law firm demographics reports that in 2013 there were 22,861 law firm partners. According to The American Lawyer, about 16% of partners in the 200 top-grossing law firms are 60 years old or older and more than half of them are at least 65; over the next five years, another 7,000 partners will turn 60. Most of those partners will soon retire or leave their firms and their departures will create a demand for new leaders. Faced with this daunting prospect, many law firms are starting to prepare for leadership transitions. Read more here.

(3) Podcast about men, women and sponsorship

I will be presenting two programs at the Association of Legal Administrators’ Human Resources Conference in Las Vegas, November 3-5, 2014. The topics are: “Beyond the Early Years: Mentoring for Leadership Development and Succession” and “Women, Men and Sponsorship: Engaging Men in Advancing Women.” The ALA interviewed me recently about women, men and sponsorship. They recorded the interview as a podcast, which you can listen to here.

(4) Chapter in new book

Ark Group in association with Managing Partner has just published a new report, Breaking Barriers: Promoting and Retaining Women in the Legal Profession. This publication features many thought leaders writing on issues facing women in the legal profession and strategies to accelerate their advancement. My chapter is called “Men: The Key to Advancing Women.” Download my chapter as a PDF.  For the full report, please visit Managing Partner.

Sponsorship Program Survey and Webinar

Many firms have started or are considering sponsorship programs as a way to retain women and minority lawyers and cultivate diverse talent. Kenneth Imo, Director of Diversity of WilmerHale, and I are conducting a survey to ascertain the current state of those programs.

To participate in this survey, please click here. Please do so right away; the survey will close Tuesday, October 21, 2014.

On Thursday, October 29, at 2:00 ET, the Professional Development Consortium will host a webinar where Kenneth and I will lead an open discussion of sponsorship and present some preliminary survey findings. If you are a PDC member and wish to participate, please contact Sally Burroughs, PDC's Coordinator of Association Services.

Recent Publications

"Sponsoring Over Mentoring: Go the Extra Distance." Wendy Werner's Career Steps column focuses on the importance of sponsorship in the Sept/Oct issue of Law Practice.

Thomas L. Sager and Bonnie Mayfield, “Tangible Results Speak Louder Than Well-Intentioned Inclusion Words,” For The Defense, August 2014, discusses the importance of mentors and sponsors in advancing women and women of color into leadership. 

Debra Michals, “Upward Bound,” Smith Alumnae Quarterly, Fall 2014, discusses how mentors give women a power boost in the workplace. 

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