Women Lawyer Groups Form Board-to-Board Mentoring Partnership

Building on their informal relationships, board members of the National Association of Women Lawyers have committed to mentoring younger leaders in the legal sphere who serve on the board of Ms. JD. The goal: to power up the profession's up-and-comers.

Two groups that support women in the legal profession are partnering up to boost their impact—through mentorship. Members of the National Association of Women Lawyers board of directors are set to mentor members of Ms. JD’s board.

NAWL’s mission is to provide leadership, a collective voice, and essential resources to advance women in the profession and to advocate for women’s equality under the law. Ms. JD is a nonprofit dedicated to the success of aspiring women lawyers and those who are early in their careers.

“Mentoring is key to both Ms. JD’s and our mission to advance women in the legal profession,” said Jenny Waters, NAWL executive director. “For our board members who are more senior, that’s something they have all taken on—reaching back and making sure the way for the younger generation is easier than their way has been.”

The idea for a one-to-one mentorship program grew out of the NAWL officers’ decision to enhance some of the informal relationships they had with other groups working in the same space, Waters said.

Individual members of each board have been paired up based on location, so that they can meet in person when possible, and by practice area. During the year-long mentorships, the mentors and mentees will check in with each other regularly, by meeting for breakfast, for example, and catching up over the phone and by email. Each pair will decide what works best for them.

The NAWL board members have a lot of experience with mentorship, and they know how to make the relationship productive, Waters said. NAWL has invited the Ms. JD board to its 2017 annual meeting in July, and the groups will meet in person there. “This gives them a day to solidify their relationships,” she said.

NAWL has worked with Ms. JD for years. “We have cosponsored programs aimed at the younger subset of the legal profession,” Waters explained, including cohosting webinars. Recently, they and three other legal groups jointly issued an open letter to the incoming Trump administration, urging the president-elect to appoint diverse candidates to the judiciary and other government positions.

“One group that is passionate about its mission can initiate a great deal of change,” NAWL President Leslie Richards-Yellen said in a statement. “Two groups with similar goals—in this case, advancing women under the law—can maximize their impact through collaboration.”

The women who have dedicated themselves to serving on Ms. JD’s board “will have an impact on the profession. By joining together, we hope to exponentially increase that impact,” Waters said. “They are the doers and the actors of the profession. These are people we want to support in any way we can.”


Allison Torres Burtka

By Allison Torres Burtka

Allison Torres Burtka, a longtime association journalist, is a freelance writer and editor in West Bloomfield, Michigan. MORE

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