Are Your Firm’s Future Leaders Ready to Pitch for Business?

It’s 2018 and yet it’s still easy to become demoralized looking at gender diversity stats in the legal profession … particularly in Big Law … particularly in practice areas that haven’t historically been welcoming of women.

You’ve heard the stats: Women make up just 19 percent of law firm equity partners and women of color represent just 2 percent of equity partners.

But you know what’s encouraging? The conversation around diversity is no longer relegated to special diversity committees or women’s initiatives. It’s being driven by the industry’s most powerful influencers—clients—and that makes all the difference.

In-house leaders are demanding diversity and inclusion from outside counsel and law firms that step up have a clear competitive advantage.

Where does ALM fit in? In 2016, working with in-house lawyers at Apple, eBay, SurveyMonkey, GoPro and dozens of other companies, we piloted a forum called Perfecting Your Pitch that gave women partners and associates the opportunity to practice pitch delivery, enhance their business development skills and forge relationships with in-house counsel committed to seeing more diversity on their teams.

The program generated such positive feedback from our law firm and in-house participants that it inspired us to bring it back for another year—this time on both coasts. There are a ton of great reasons to get involved in Perfecting Your Pitch. Seriously. Ping me if you want me to detail them. In this blog, I’ll keep it simple: What law firm wouldn’t want to show off its rising stars in front of in-house lawyers from companies including Facebook, Mastercard, Nestle, Salesforce, Panasonic, Purdue Pharma, Airbnb, Netflix, McKesson, ComScore, Twitter, and Square.

Here’s how the event works:

  • Law firms send teams of up to five women lawyers who are prepared to pitch in response to a detailed fact pattern laid out in a fictional RFP. (Team composition is up to firms but we think senior associates and junior partners will get the most from the experience.)
  • This year’s fact pattern—developed by our in-house partners at Salesforce—focuses on an acquisition. The detailed scenario opens up a range of legal and business issues, making this event ideal for cross-disciplinary teams with expertise in M&A, tax, employment, data security, antitrust and other fields. Don’t worry, you get the RFP with plenty of time to prepare.
  • Teams present pitches to two separate in-house panels comprised of three in-house lawyers representing different companies. Each pitch session lasts one hour, allowing for memorable interaction and feedback.
  • During the event, participants may opt to join a roundtable discussion related to M&A law, business development or gender equity in the legal profession.
  • The half-day program culminates with a networking lunch where in-house leaders share their business development dos and don’ts.

If I sound like a booster for this program, it’s because I’m a true believer in the power of women to help each other achieve professional success. As it happens, I’m working on the event with an influential group of women within ALM that includes Chief Content Officer Molly Miller, The American Lawyer Editor-in-Chief (EIC) Gina Passarella, Corporate Counsel EIC Heather Nevitt, Legal Events Director Sharon Morabito and General Counsel Dana Rosen.

From our team to yours, we hope see you this fall at Perfecting Your Pitch!

Click here for more info on our Oct. 10 Perfecting Your Pitch event in New York.

Click here for more info on our  Nov. 14 event in San Francisco.

Vanessa Blum