May 29, 2007
WHAT EMPLOYERS LOOK FOR FROM SUMMER CLERKS
From St. Mary's University School of Law Job Bulletin dated 7/8/05:
WHAT EMPLOYERS LOOK FOR FROM SUMMER CLERKS
According to the Gilbert Law
Summaries Employment Guide,
The “Top Eight Hit List”: What
Employers Look for From Summer
1. Excellent “output.” in written
assignments, oral advocacy
and/or dealing with
2. Good judgment: The ability
to act and dress appropriately
and deal sensibly and
maturely with situations as
3. Enthusiasm for the projects
you do and for the employer
itself. Employers will
often take the summer
clerk who shows the most
interest in them.
4. Flexibility: The willingness
to accommodate different
work styles, personalities,
5. Appreciation of the opportunity
to work with the employer.
6. The ability to get along with
support staff and colleagues,
that is, to “fit in.”
7. An understanding of what
the organization’s goals
are, whether it’s a business
(like a law firm) or any
other kind of service provider.
8. Realistic expectations of
what work is, and what you
can expect from it.
May 25, 2007
Students Beware--Surfing the web without buying a cup of joe may land you in the slammer!
Bootlegging Wireless Access
Orin Kerr serves up this interesting post about a Michigan guy who was prosecuted for using a coffee shop's wireless access without ever entering the coffee shop. As Kerr describes:
Each day around lunch time, Sam Peterson would drive to the Union Street Cafe, park his car and--without actually entering the coffee shop--check his e-mail and surf the Net. His ritual raised the suspicions of Police Chief Andrew Milanowski, who approached him and asked what he was doing. Peterson, probably not realizing that his actions constituted a crime, freely admitted what he was doing.
Milanowski eventually swore out a warrant for Peterson's arrest, even though the coffee shop owner didn't even realize that accessing the coffee shop network without going inside was illegal. Eventually, Peterson was charged with theft under a computer crime statute and given a $400 fine and 40 hours of community service (A more reasonable penalty, it seems, would have been to simply reimburse the coffee shop for the cost of a cup of java for each day that Peterson used the wireless as a noncustomer.).
Kerr wonders whether Peterson actually committed a crime under Michigan's statute prohibited "unauthorized use" of a computer network. Among other things, Kerr argues that Peterson's use was not unauthorized because the coffee shop made the network available to anyone. He writes:
What's the rule — no hopping on wifi from a coffee shop unless you enter the shop? Unless you actually buy something? What if you're outside waiting for a friend to join you for a latte, but you haven't gone in yet? Where do such rules come from, and what notice does a defendant have before being held criminally liable? I've written before about how unauthorized access statutes threaten to punish an incredible amount of conduct online, and this seems like the latest evidence in support of the point.
For now, if you're waiting outside a coffee shop in Michigan, keep your wireless turned off until you enter the store!
Posted by Carolyn Elefant on May 23, 2007 at 05:05 PM
Another law firm merger
Locke Liddell Merger With Lord Bissell Will Form 700-Lawyer Firm
Brenda Sapino Jeffreys
Locke Liddell & Sapp, based in Houston and Dallas, and Chicago-based Lord, Bissell & Brook have agreed to merge and will form a 700-lawyer firm named Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell.
Jerry Clements, the Austin, Texas-based managing partner of Locke Liddell, says the firms signed a preliminary term sheet on Tuesday. The merger must be approved by at least 75 percent of the partners in each firm at votes set for mid-July and is expected to close by Aug. 1.
Clements will head a nine-member executive committee that will also include a vice chairman and three other representatives from each firm. The firm's headquarters hasn't been decided, Clements says, although she notes it may be Austin because that's where she lives.
Thomas W. Jenkins, chairman of the executive committee at Lord Bissell, could not immediately be reached for comment.
"This represents a beginning of a new era for Texas law firms," Clements says. "To my knowledge, this is the first time a large Texas firm merges with a law firm from outside Texas with offices outside the United States."
Locke Liddell is the larger firm with 399 lawyers, but Lord Bissell, which has about 300 lawyers, has a wider range of offices. Locke Liddell has offices in Houston, Dallas, Austin, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. Lord, Bissell's offices are in Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, Calif., and London.
Washington, D.C., is the only location where both firms have offices; Clements says Locke Liddell is moving soon into new office space in D.C., and the merger plans call for lawyers from Lord Bissell's Washington office to move into that new space once the merger closes.
Locke Liddell, meanwhile, boosted the size of its D.C. office earlier this week when it brought on 14 real estate lawyers from the Washington office of Chicago firm Katten Muchin Rosenman. The group includes partners Jennifer Beer, Christopher Hart, Adam Lichenstein and Edward Zughaib as well as 10 associates.
Clements, who has been Locke Liddell's managing partner for less than a year, says the merger with Lord Bissell makes a lot of sense for Locke Liddell due to cross-selling opportunities -- particularly, in the financial services, intellectual property, litigation and health-care areas -- and geographic expansion. The deal also makes sense from financial and cultural perspectives, she says.
"It gives us the national footprint we are wanting to serve our clients better," Clements says. "It gives them opportunity to get to a [larger] size."
Clements says Locke Liddell has been looking for a good merger partner for several years and started talking with Lord Bissell earlier this year.
"It's one that finally made sense," she says.
She declines to identify other prospective merger partners.
Clements says lawyers from Locke Liddell and Lord Bissell have worked together in the past on banking regulatory matters and as co-counsel or counsel for co-defendants on litigation or arbitration related to reinsurance disputes. She declines to identify clients the firms share.
The merger would be the largest for the firm since January 1999, when Houston-based Liddell, Sapp, Zivley, Hill & LaBoon merged with Locke Purnell Rain Harrell of Dallas to form Locke Liddell & Sapp.
Locke Liddell's national reputation got a large boost in October 2005 when President George W. Bush nominated Harriet Miers, a former co-managing partner in Locke Liddell and then-White House counsel, for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Miers withdrew her name from consideration three weeks later amid controversy over her qualifications. Miers, a commercial litigator, left the White House in February and returned to Locke Liddell as a partner in Dallas.
Financially, the firms "match up nicely," Clements says.
"The economics work for both firms. There's a very good cultural fit," she says.
Profits per partner at Locke Liddell averaged $831,000 in 2006, up 16.1 percent from 2005's $716,000, according to Texas Lawyer's Annual Report on Firm Finance. Revenue per lawyer at the firm averaged $693,000 in 2006, up 4.7 percent when compared to $662,000 in 2005.
In 2005, profits per partner averaged $610,000 at Lord Bissell, while revenue per lawyer came in at $580,000 at the firm, according to The American Lawyer's Am Law 200 report, published in June 2006.
Clements says Locke Liddell can do a deal such as the merger with Lord Bissell because of the firm's positive financial position. She says that's due to hard work by the partners in the firm and by former managing partner Bryan Goolsby, now a partner in Dallas.
May 11, 2007
Cultural Sensitivity in Legal Practice
Having a grasp of cultural sensitivities will come in handy as a lawyer, whether you practice in the Midwest or in the Shanghai office of a London firm. With large firms increasingly opening foriegn offices and the resulting exchange and interaction between the offices necessitates sensitivity to cultural differences. The National Law Journal picked up on this topic in an article entitled "Cultural Gap" which describes some embarrassing moments and other situations where ignorance of the culture can have extremely negative results for clients.
The Culture Gap
The National Law Journal
May 11, 2007
So many countries, so many rules for attorneys to follow.
When dealing with Asian clients, be careful how you handle business cards and be attentive to who sits where.
In Latin countries, be prepared for two-hour meals before talking business. In China, save the small talk for after the deal. And in France, you may want to arrive at a meeting fashionably late.
Globalization of the legal world has led more lawyers to travel overseas and work with foreign clients, so grasping another country's customs can make or break a lawyer's deal.
"There are many lawyers going abroad who are not aware of the differences, so they offend someone," said Tanja Diklic, who helps bridge the cultural gap between Americans and Europeans as the director of business development and client relations in the New York office of SD Petosevic, a Belgrade, Serbia, law firm. "I've seen people lose business over this."
Clifford Chance's junior attorneys have role-playing assignments, which involve cultural differences. Holland & Knight often has lawyers spend time in some of the firm's six international offices, where they get acquainted with the cultures of other countries.
Associates from all 18 offices of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker recently met in Marina del Rey, Calif., where they learned about each other's cultures and their countries' business practices. DLA Piper's managing partner, Terry O'Malley, said his firm often relies on employees with knowledge of a particular culture.
"If I get on an airplane and fly to Hong Kong, I have 90 colleagues there ready to take care of me," O'Malley said.
A number of big firms, including Baker & McKenzie; Holland & Knight; New York's Weil, Gotshal & Manges; and Houston's Fulbright & Jaworski, said they do not provide cross-cultural training specifically, but touch on these issues during workshops on diversity as well as informal discussions and attorney exchanges.
Lawyers familiar with other countries' business etiquettes said they often tip off their colleagues.
Frederick A. Brodie, a litigation partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, warns that it may be impolite to address Japanese executives by their first names. He also advises American lawyers to put everything in writing and avoid unfamiliar abbreviations when working with foreigners.
BUSINESS CARD TIPS
Like others who have worked with Asian clients, Brodie stressed the importance of a proper business card exchange, a much more formal ritual than in the United States and done with two hands.
One lawyer said a Japanese businessman never picked up a card that an American lawyer threw on a conference table as if he were playing poker.
American lawyers' styles tend to be more aggressive than those of Asian lawyers, so they could come off as offensive, said Sarah Jones, a partner at Clifford Chance.
"The flexibility of how you deal with people is important," she said. "I watched that be very detrimental to a transaction."
In many Asian countries, it is also important to know who sits where, said Howard Chao, a partner at O'Melveny & Myers who is in charge of the Asia practice.
In Japan, the honored guest typically faces the door, and the most senior employee sits in the middle of a table, he said. Chao, who was born in Taiwan and now works out of his firm's Shanghai, China, and Silicon Valley offices, said American lawyers should also know that large meetings in Asia often serve as "theater," since much of the actual negotiating takes place in smaller sidebar meetings. Lawyers working with Asian clients should also pay attention to how they draft their documents, he said.
"It's kind of countercultural, but people like to see contracts that are more concise and get to the essence of it without much verbiage," Chao said. "So you can offend someone or put someone off by delivering a document that's over the top."
MEETING THE VP
When working in Latin America, lawyers should be prepared to meet with high-ranking government officials, such as a country's vice president, as the government gets very involved in a lot of transactions, said Anibal Martin Sabater, an international arbitration adviser at Fulbright & Jaworski.
Lawyers should also expect lengthy lunches and dinners, since there is a strong emphasis on personal relationships, said Paul Hastings' Dino Barajas, a partner who is the co-head of the firm's Latin American projects.
"Rather than just jumping into negotiations or putting out their main points from the beginning, there needs to be a kind of appreciation for the other person, their background, some type of common ground," said Barajas, who also makes it a point to use chopsticks and try sake in Japan and to express his appreciation for foie gras in France. "It's almost akin to dating."
By contrast, one lawyer said the chitchat typically comes at the end of meetings in China.
In France, arriving for a meeting on time may be a faux pas. Akiko Mikumo, a member of the management committee at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, said she drew puzzled looks when she showed up 20 minutes early for a dinner at the Paris home of a general counsel's wife.
"You're supposed to come at least 20 minutes late," she said, adding that has been changing as the French become more familiar with Americans' punctual habits.
And in Russia, vodka is often served along with handshakes during business lunches, said Gary P. Kaplan, a partner in charge of tax and international groups at San Francisco's Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin, which is part of the International Lawyers Network, an association of 87 law firms with more than 5,000 lawyers in 68 countries.
"Each person at the table is expected to stand up and make a toast," he said of several business trips he took to Moscow last year. "People get a little tipsy to this day over business meetings."
The opposite occurs in the Middle East, where Clifford Chance once organized a seminar. The firm ensured that it was being respectful toward Islamic guests by not serving alcohol. Meanwhile, Epstein Becker & Green's Lowell Lifschultz learned how important connections can be in other countries when a Moroccan lawyer proudly told him that he knows the king.
Other things are simply learned by trial. During a speech in England on U.S. sexual harassment laws, a Clifford Chance lawyer tried to be polite by using the word "fanny" to describe a case in which a store manager inappropriately touched a female's behind. It was only afterwards that he learned that in England, that word describes a female's other private parts.
In some countries, lawyers' roles may be completely different from those of American lawyers, said David Williams Russell, a partner in Indianapolis' Harrison & Moberly, which also belongs to the International Lawyers Network.
"They may not be able to answer your question or may try, but may be thinking, 'This isn't my job, I'm not a businessperson, I don't answer business questions,' " Russell said, naming Mexico as an example. "You've got to realize they don't always view themselves as problem solvers."
This occurs because some foreign attorneys are more accustomed to citing the law instead of putting it to practical use, which is what most American lawyers do daily, Russell said.
In parts of Eastern Europe, lawyers are often not used to 24-hour turnaround time and deadlines, said Kathryn Szymczyk, a Canadian who has been working for a year and half as the director of legal strategies and client services at SD Petosevic.
"They are not used to producing a commercial product; they are more used to just reciting a law as opposed to really understanding a client and where they are coming from to produce a concrete solution," said Szymczyk, who said further that a part of her job is to "westernize the office.
"You can't overestimate enough the effect cultural differences will have."
Some lawyers said law firms don't invest in cross-cultural training because it can't be linked to billable hours. John Conroy, managing partner of Baker & McKenzie, the world's largest law firm, said his firm prefers to use a recruiting model designed to identify individuals with a number of skills, including cultural sensitivity.
"It's not terribly effective to have a workshop or a course that will tell you how to receive business cards," he said. "There, frankly, are much more important ways of serving clients that vary from one culture to another that you can't capture completely through a crash course. It's more effective to have people who are culturally sensitive."
Brian Szepkouski, a certified trainer at Etiquette International in New York City who also runs his own intercultural management consulting business in New Jersey, said corporations are proactive when it comes to cross-cultural training, but law firms tend to be more reactive and wait for a pressing issue to come up.
But Mary Crane, a lawyer who heads Mary Crane & Associates, which consults Fortune 500 companies and law firms on various issues, including business etiquette, said law firms have been paying more attention.
"They are recognizing this is critically important," she said. "Working in a global economy, one needs to have an understanding of international protocols. It's an ounce of prevention."
Kaplan, from Howard Rice, said large law firms should consider such investments so that American lawyers don't learn through mistakes.
"You're kind of an ambassador of your country every time you go abroad to do work," he said.
"We're considered ignorant, so to try to break that as a stereotype, I think that type of training would be highly appropriate," he added.
May 09, 2007
The Woman Partner Problem
Bruce MacEwen, Esq. the author of a widely read blog on law and economics "Adam Smith, Esq." writes about the dearth of women partner in large law firms and gives suggestions on how large law firms can attract and retain larger percentages of women. Bruce may be in a position to have his views heard within the large law community. Besides writing for his blog (which averages 300,000 readers) he regularly presents at Am Law 100 firms, and has been quoted in major news and legal publications. The blog--Adam Smith, Esq. can be read at www.adamsmithesq.com
The Women Partner Problem
Frankly, I've written too infrequently about our industry's deplorable statistics on the ratio of women partners to male partners. I have excuses, but they're not reasons. Herewith a first attempt to remedy that.
This is prompted by a survey that opens with these vivid statistics:
"The search for reasons begins with the confounding fact that women and men have been graduating from law schools and entering the firms in virtually equal numbers for at least 15 years but, according to the MIT Survey #1 on Rates of Attrition women make up only 17% of firm partners. That number increases to only 21% if the period before women entered firms in large numbers is excluded, according to the 2006 National Association of Women Lawyers survey."
Here's how the Wall Street Journal law blog described it:
The report, “Women Lawyers and Obstacles to Leadership,” was produced by the MIT Workplace Center along with local bar associations. Of the 1,000 Massachusetts lawyers surveyed, 31 percent of female associates had left private practice entirely, compared with 18 percent of male associates. The gap widens among associates with children, to 35 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
The following quotes are, I think, striking (emphases supplied):
“I once heard someone describe their position as a junior associate at a large law firm as the best paying dead-end job they have ever had." [Female associate]
"Among associates, over 50% of women work more than 50 hours a week. Women with children, however, limit the number of hours they work. Among women with children, only 32% work more than 50 hours a week. On the other hand, male associates with children do not limit the number of hours they work in the same way women with children do. On average, over 75% of men work over 50 hours a week. Among men with children, 85% work more than 50 hours. Men with children, in fact, tend to work more hours."
"At the non-equity partner level, both men and women report working more hours than associates, but there is still a difference between the number of hours men and women work. Sixty-five percent of women non-equity partners work more than 50 hours a week, whereas only 55% of women with children do so.
"Again, the presence of children decreases the number of hours for women non-equity partners, but the same effect does not appear for men. At this level also, men with children tend to work more hours than women with children.
"At the partner level, the same pattern persists with one striking difference. Both men and women tend to work more hours than non-equity partners. However, both men and women partners with children work fewer hours than those without children. This is the only point at which the impact of children on time spent at work is similar for men and women.
"Lauren Stiller Rikleen in Ending the Gauntlet: Removing Barriers to Women’s Success in the Law (Thompson/ Legalworks, 2006) argues that the essential condition for the success of flex-time systems is change in traditional firm management. At present, she says, management committees are usually made up of partners who are pre-eminent in their practice areas but not necessarily knowledgeable about management principles, economics, or finance. Their tendency is to follow traditional hiring and promotion practices without undertaking sophisticated analyses of their costs.
"She concludes that what is needed is a rational examination of sole reliance on billable hours as the basis for a firm’s profitability, and rational consideration of additional compensation structures.
"For this she strongly urges a turn to professional management for law firms."
I'm going to second her recommendation of "professional management for law firms" (I know: Regular readers will be shocked by this), in what may strike some as a radical way by the time I'm done with this piece, but first let's flesh out more of the survey's findings.
The survey also asked women taking advantage of "flex-time" options their reasons for doing so. The responses were:
• Nearly 90%: More time with children
• Less than 10%: Everything else, such as:
o elder care
o more control of working hours
o work not intellectually stimulating
o wanted to pursue other interests
o didn't need the money
What does all the foregoing demonstrate? To me, one and only one thing. That one thing seems to have been lost in all the smoke and brimstone surrounding "gender equality," "sexism," and the endless, fought-to-an-exhausted-standstill debates between the societal and civic virtues of stay at home Mom's vs. the battle cry of those calling the sisterhood to the professional office ramparts.
That one thing is: Having children is different. It's different than taking a sabbatical or a detour into government or nonprofit service, and it's vastly different for men than for women.
The unspoken assumption—on both the part of the firm and the part of the individual lawyer—is that father/lawyers are more committed to their careers and more determined to succeed, but mother/lawyers have heard the siren call of the newborn and will never report back to the office feeling the same uncompromised commitment they did before. Isn't this what we all think but dare not say?
That's why "flex-time" has always struck me as such a weak, jury-rigged, and fundamentally ineffective half-measure. The dirty secret about flex-time is that it's 80% of pay for essentially the same amount of work.
Just yesterday I was talking with a (male) former Skadden international deals lawyer who recounted, in sadness and not in anger, the story of a female colleague on maternal "flex-time" who was involved with a deal in Taipei, where it was the start of the business day around 9:00 pm in New York—and of course the investment bank client had bankers on the ground in Taipei on Taipei time. You literally had to be there all night.
We've talked, at this point ad nauseum, about changing "attitudes," we've talked about cabining expectations, we've talked about the relative importance of child-raising and deal-brokering, we've talked about how no one on their death bed ever wished they'd spent more time at the office, etc., etc., etc. And we're stuck where we were 15 years ago.
I don't know about you, but I have to conclude as at least a closet empiricist that these conversations, alternatively sanctimonious, defensive, patronizing, righteously indignant, and confused, have fundamentally failed to advance the ball downfield.
So I have a different and perhaps radical suggestion: Can we not recognize that the fundamental problem is our insistence that a woman's prime child-bearing years coincide with the years of the tournament to partnership? And if that is the ineluctable problem—the reason we've made pitifully little progress over two or three decades of massive investment in women's careers and endless exhortation—then, if we're serious, shouldn't we do something about that?
In other words, why can we not decouple those two ten-year time frames so that they're not coincident in time but at worst weakly and marginally overlapping? My proposal is this:
• On a voluntary basis, let women who want to take time off to start a family do so—firms could obviously set their own ground rules, but I would think a reasonable period of time might be as long as seven or eight years for the "family sabbatical."
• Why would women return to the workplace after that long away? Because many of them would want to: Remember, these are by hypothesis highly motivated, exceptionally well educated people not used to being "defeated" in any sense of the word. And after the kids are a little older, a high level of commitment to work is again feasible. There's an enormous difference between having a toddler or having an elementary school student.
• Women who aren't in a position, or who choose not, to start a family, as well as any brave hearts who want to plow ahead on the partnership track with kids at home, would do so. But: Motherhood/maternity would not be a permissible or recognized reason for requesting "flex time." In for a dime, in for a dollar. I think this one single change would do more to eliminate the ghettoization of motherhood as anything else we could do.
• When women who had taken years off returned, they would jump right back on the partnership track ladder, although some firms might choose to make them "repeat" the year they were in when they departed. (For example, if you left as a fifth year, you might come back as a fourth year.)
• The point of this optional "repeat year" is two-fold: To recognize that such an extended period of time away from the practice means your technical skills need a refresher (and the substantive law may have changed as well—imagine leaving the securities practice before SOX and coming back after it), but second to recognize that both men and women who followed the straight and continuous path would probably resent returnees' picking up precisely where they left off. Think of it as a form of requiring the returnees to "compensate" the firm for having received the favor of the family sabbatical.
• Some will object that after such an extended period of time away, no one can rejoin the partnership race. My answer to that is: What a patronizing and condescending suggestion. I don't believe anyone's in a position to say that, flatly, about all women (or men). Face it: Those who return will be highly motivated, and they will also have gained a level of maturity and picked up skills that will be of genuine value to the firm and its clients. (Think time management, prioritization, multi-tasking, and maintaining equilibrium in the face of unreasonable or inexplicable behavior.)
Does this mean women would work towards, be eligible for, and become partners a decade or so after men? If I can do arithmetic, that may be its implication. Would men, famously frailer than women in older age, want to retire earlier and would some rough justice in terms of overall career duration be maintained? It's possible.
So I'm proposing that we confront head-on instituting a program that purposely "parks" women out of the workforce for five to ten years—with no stigma—so that there need not be a stark, dichotomous choice between spending a critical decade or so of your life either launching a family or pursuing partnership. You could actually get to take your stab at both, seriatim not simultaneously.
Would women under this hare-brained scheme have at last the "level playing field" everyone genuflects to? I think so. Maybe women at last would have a fair shot, and that 50%/17% statistic could change. On the merits. No stigma; no Mommy Track.
Would one firm care to initiate their own little sandbox experiment testing this hypothesis? In one department? With two or three class years of associates? On a tiny tiny scale?
The only thing you have to lose is the half of your starting associates who lack a Y chromosome.
Female lawyers in U.S. opt for women-only client outings.
5/4/07 Daily Rec. (Rochester, NY) (Pg. Unavail. Online)
2007 WLNR 8657591
Daily Record (Rochester, NY)
Copyright 2007 Dolan Media Newswires
May 4, 2007
Female lawyers in U.S. opt for women-only client outings.
Nora Lockwood Tooher
One evening last fall, 19 women lawyers from a large Chicago law firm got together with 60 women clients to browse designer shoes at the Cole Haan store on Michigan Avenue. They sipped cocktails, snacked on appetizers and swapped business cards. Many also used a special discount to buy shoes at the upscale store, which closed early to the public for the private party. "It was more successful than I think we ever would have guessed," said Leslee Cohen, a principal at Much Shelist and co-chairwoman of the firm's women's initiative. "The women were shopping and networking with each other. We made contacts for this law firm, and our guests made contacts with each other, which they found very helpful." The event was one of a growing number of women-only client outings hosted by law firms throughout the country.
Many events have a decidedly feminine flair, as women attorneys opt for glamour over golf to schmooze with their female clients. "Women want to network in a way that's comfortable to them, and women generally like elegant, special things," explained Ilene Robinson Sunshine, a partner at Sullivan & Worcester who formed the firm's women's initiative. The women-only client events can be focused on a wide range of activities. Over the past five years Sullivan & Worcester in Boston has sponsored women-only networking events that included a reading by novelist Alice Hoffman, a performance by Shakespeare & Co. and a flamenco night at the Four Seasons Hotel. Halleland Lewis in Minneapolis has hosted a wine-tasting event for women lawyers and clients for the past eight years. Last September, celebrity chef Mario Batali cooked meatballs and chatted with some of the Bryan Cave law firm's female lawyers and 30 female clients in Manhattan. The firm's St. Louis office hosts annual spa retreats for female clients, and its London office recently hosted a reception for 100 women attorneys and professionals working in aviation insurance. "You really do need to know your clients," said Betsy Bousquette, a partner in the Bryan Cave's Manhattan office and head of professional resources. "You need to have times to have fun together." Leadership their way Women-only legal marketing events have been around for years, but they have become increasingly popular in the wake of Sara Lee Corp.'s 2004 Call to Action, which advocated diversity in the legal profession. In response, law firms are not only hiring more women and minority lawyers, but increasing efforts to retain them, with mentoring, leadership and marketing programs geared specifically to women and minority attorneys. Jane Pigott, head of R3 Group, a diversity consulting firm in Chicago, said the women-only events also reflect an effort by women partners to help junior women attorneys acquire marketing skills so they can move up the law firm ranks. "As more women move into power positions, they are not only choosing to do it 'their way,' but they are encouraging and facilitating that opportunity for more junior women," she said. Ellen Ostrow, head of Lawyers Life Coach, a Silver Spring, Md. coaching firm for women lawyers, agreed: "In a law firm, to be promoted to a position of leadership, you have to be a rainmaker, so the idea is to create opportunities for women to improve their business development opportunities because they tend to be excluded from the traditional old-boy networks." Squelching criticism Concerned that its shoe-shopping evening might be perceived as frivolous, Much Shelist included a business speaker in the program. As it turned out, however, the event was so successful from a marketing perspective that organizers shouldn't have worried, Cohen said. "We had the level of attendance and positive response because of the shopping element," she said. "It's a great ice-breaker." Sunshine, of Sullivan & Worcester, said that initially some male lawyers at her firm criticized the women-only events as exclusionary. "There was some mumbling about why we were doing this, but we pointed out what has now become fairly well-accepted -- women holding positions in business where they are in a position to retain outside counsel are a group that you would market to specially," she said. The success of the firm's women-only outings, which attract about 100 women lawyers and clients each year, silenced the criticism, she noted, and many male attorneys now request invitations for their female clients. "People are thrilled to have their clients and contacts invited to the events," Sunshine said. "It's been a win-win situation for all the attorneys in the office." Charting a path Women client events also serve a broader purpose by creating a support group for women business professionals in the community, said Teresa Kimker, a shareholder at Halleland Lewis. "Typically, a lot of the clients tend to be lawyers themselves, and part of it is that may be a good pool of people who might bring business to the firm," she said "There's also that broader message that all women professionals tend to share some issues in common." Paula Pace, a partner in Bryan Cave's St. Louis office, said the firm's annual spa retreats have strengthened relationships between the women who attend. "You can't help but get to know each other better," she said. "Each year there is a deeper understanding and a deeper friendship between the lawyers and the clients." In many law firms, women-only networking events are only one component of ambitious women's initiative programs designed to help women in the firm. Akin Grump in Washington, D.C. has held women-only networking retreats for women partners and clients for 20 years. This year, it added a two-day retreat for all 200 of the firm's women lawyers. Women attorneys from the firm's 10 U.S. offices, as well as offices in Moscow and London, attended. The conference included sessions on communication and leadership skills, as well as discussions about balancing professional and personal demands. "This was different in that it wasn't so much focused on marketing and client development as on the retention and promotion of female lawyers," said Cheryl Falvey, head of the firm's litigation group in Washington. "What I thought was so special [about the retreat] was that we included every female lawyer in the firm, including the younger ones who are looking for role models, who don't really get the access to partners -- male or female -- that they want, to try and chart a path within the law firm.