Women in the Law

Women in the Law 2021 was held virtually on Friday, May 21. Our 2020-2021 theme is All In: Reimagining Inclusive Workplaces. Program highlights include:

Program highlights included:

  • An intimate interview with Nina Totenberg, NPR’s Legal Affairs Correspondent. The conversation with Totenberg will include her close friendship with RBG, her role as a trailblazer in journalism and much more.
  • A conversation with Michele Coleman Mayes, vice president, general counsel and secretary of the New York Public Library, and the Honorable Victoria Roberts ’76;
  • A special presentation by Shirley Leung, columnist and associate editor at The Boston Globe;
  • A mindfulness exercise by Brenda Fingold;
  • Three timely and topical panels: Strategies for Promoting Equity and Inclusion in the Legal WorkplaceRewriting the Code: Women, Law and Technology; and “Democracy is not a state. It is an act....” (John Lewis).
  • Three breakout sessions to choose from: Dive Deeper into the "isms"; Out of Time and Out of Mind: Strategies to Make the Most of Every DaySo You Want to Be a General Counsel.
  • And much more... Check out the conference schedule below!

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2021 Conference Schedule

Friday, May 21, 2021
8:15 AM Gathering on Zoom and Networking
8:30 AM Welcome 
Mielle Marquis| @MielleMarquis
Director of External Relations, Northeastern University School of Law
Amy Carlin ’00
Partner, Morgan Brown & Joy (conference chair)
James Hackney
Dean, Northeastern University School of LawMusical contributions from Alisha Williams, who recently graduated from the California Jazz Conservatory, and singing duo Ella Marcus and Sarah Katherine Lawless, who attend the Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music, set the tone for a dynamic and inspiring day of programing.
9:00 - 10:00 AM Keynote Address
Michele Coleman Mayes
Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, New York Public Library
In conversation with: The Honorable Victoria Roberts ’76
10:00 - 10:10 AM Mindfulness Exercise
Brenda Fingold
Mindfulness Consultant
10:10 - 10:15 AM Break
10:15- 11:15 AM Panel 1
Strategies for Promoting Equity and Inclusion in Legal Workplaces
As lawyers, many of us have worked hard to achieve real diversity in the workplace. But diversity can’t be the end game when most workplaces struggle to maintain a culture that truly supports equity and inclusion. In this session, panelists will share strategies they’ve used to encourage their organizations to make changes that benefit all who are working for equity in the workplace. This panel will include an expert who works with organizations to transform cultures on issues of equity, and who will impart actual tools to those eager and interested in creating openings for more inclusive workplaces.Panelists:
Laura Rees Acosta
Managing Director, Diversity + Inclusion, Goodwin
Dr. Darnisa Amante-Jackson
Co-founder of the Disruptive Equity Education Project
Su Joun
Principal, Diversity@Workplace Consulting Group SuJounTALENT
Rosa Nuñez
Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Foley Hoag

Amy Carlin ’00
Partner, Morgan, Brown & Joy

11:15 - 11:25 AM Break
11:25 AM - 12:25 PM Panel 2
Rewriting the Code: Women, Law and Technology
It’s no secret that technology is a male-dominated field where women often face challenges. For female lawyers, getting involved with technology on the legal side can be a way to better understand and network into either start-ups or established companies. Our panelists will share strategies for opening up opportunities and a seat at the table in technology and social media companies as well as how to improve recruitment and retention in this niche.Panelists:
Vanessa Candela ’00
Chief Legal Officer, Celonis
Juliana Spofford ’89
General Counsel, Chief Privacy Officer, Aidentified
Alicia Tambe ’15
Public Policy Manager, Global Connectivity & Access, Facebook

Jessica Silbey
Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law

12:25 - 1:10 PM Special Presentation
Shirley Leung
Columnist and Associate Editor, The Boston Globe
1:10 - 1:15 PM Break
1:15 - 2:15 PM Panel 3
“Democracy is not a state. It is an act...” (John Lewis)
Exasperated, frustrated, and appalled at the state of the world? The challenges before us are daunting - racial injustice, threats to peace at home and abroad, assaults on democracy and the rule of law, a broken healthcare system, intractable poverty, climate change and other environmental threats, a troubling immigration system, ongoing challenges to the rights of women and LGBTQ folks (just to name a few). You are compelled to act, to use your formidable skills -- legal and otherwise - to engage and make a positive difference. But where to begin? Join a panel of fellow activists and hear how they are using the law to work for social change across multiple contexts.Panelists:
Michelle Banker
Director of Reproductive Rights and Health Litigation, National Women’s Law Center
Emily Rochon ’13
Owner/Manager, Renewable Futures, Brussels, Belgium
Sara Schnorr
Of Counsel, Locke Lord
Connie Vetter '93
Principal, Connie Vetter, LGBT Attorney at Law
Heather Yountz ’07
Immigration Attorney, Demissie & Church

Sunu Chandy ’98
Legal Director,  National Women’s Law Center

2:15 - 2:20 PM Break
2:20 - 3:20 PM Breakout Sessions

Dive Deeper into the "isms"
Racism, sexism, ageism, ableism…discrimination takes many forms in the workplace—and is ever-evolving. These are thorny topics, and it feels all too easy to say the wrong thing. Most of us feel unable or ill-equipped to address the “isms” that we experience or witness, yet yearn to engage to promote real learning and change in our own communities. In this session, breakout leaders will discuss ways to have difficult conversations or otherwise respond when you’re confronted with these issues in the workplace and beyond.

Breakout leaders:
Dr. Darnisa Amante-Jackson
Co-founder of the Disruptive Equity Education Project
Soudie Tahmassebipour ’99
Founder, RE-ENVISION Consulting; Executive Director, Wachusett Area Social Justice Alliance

Out of Time and Out of Your Mind: Strategies to Make the Most of Every Day
Dutifully racking up billable hours or enduring the grind of back-to-back meetings and the expectation of lightning-fast responses to endlessly urgent demands is no guarantee of time well spent. Your time is valuable—and not just in stark economic terms. Where is your life and career energizing you versus depleting you? Are you ready to move through your days with energy and enthusiasm? In this session, you will gain clarity about what lights you up and develop strategies for honoring that in your daily life. Join the discussion and make every moment count.

Breakout leader:
Tracey Lukes
Vice President, Hollister Institute

So You Want to Be a General Counsel
What is the necessary skillset for becoming a general counsel – i.e. what traits are necessary to succeed in this very fast-paced in-house environment? Exceptional legal skills are just table stakes on the road to becoming general counsel.  A great general counsel is a master of relationships, an executive confidant, a business enabler and a teller of hard truths. Being intentional about your career - the places you work, the assignments you seek, who you work for and who takes you under their wing - are all crucial if you want the top job. Our distinguished breakout leaders will share their stories and show you the way.

Breakout leaders:
Vanessa Candela ’00
Chief Legal Officer, Celonis
Nancy Reiner '84
Partner, Major, Lindsey & Africa

3:20 - 3:25 PM Break
3:25 - 3:55 PM Special Presentation
Nina Totenberg
NPR's Legal Affairs Correspondent
3:55 - 4:00 PM Break
4:00 - 4:30 PM Virtual Networking
Join us in celebrating #WIL2021

We gratefully acknowledge the efforts of our
2020-2021 Women in the Law Advisory Group: 

Navjeet Bal ’89
Kelly Bonnevie ’92
Professor Emerita Judy Brown
Vanessa Candela ’00
Amy Carlin ’00
Kelly Douglas ’92
Kathy Henry ’00
Sofia Lingos ’09
Christina Miller ’98
Karen O’Malley ’94
Gina Perini ’01
Mala Rafik ’97
Cynthia Reed ’80
Rachael Rollins ’97

About Women in the law

Since its founding, Northeastern Law has championed diversity in the legal profession.Today, more than half of our graduates are women, practicing in every conceivable setting — from private practice to public service, from the bench to business — as well as a host of non-legal fields. Our annual Women in the Law conference provides career guidance and professional development growth to women attorneys and other professionals at all stages of their careers, and brings together powerful decision makers from Boston and beyond.