By Mark Fefer
A move to build more business, camaraderie, and networking opportunities for DWT women has spread across the firm, with events this past year at multiple offices. These efforts include the formal launch in Seattle and Bellevue of a new initiative in collaboration with US Bank and Moss Adams, both leaders in promoting the advancement of women.
The Seattle/Bellevue project, called empoWer, aims to promote the professional and personal growth and success of women attorneys at DWT, and pave their way to leadership roles. While many law firm initiatives focus on the development of women attorneys within the firm, empoWer recognizes the importance of developing books of business through collaboration with referral sources from other companies and industries.
“A basic tenet of the project is that lawyers who control business and client relationships have the ability to be agents of change and persons of influence in the firm and the community,” says partner Lynn Loacker, one of the co-founders of the initiative.
Another co-founder, partner Sarah English Tune, says: “The importance of empoWer is that it helps women attorneys expand their networks as part of their professional and business development.”
A preliminary event was hosted by the firm on April 9th. Over drinks and hors d’oeuvres, Loacker introduced Tammy Young, who was then a managing director at Moss Adams, a company that has its own established and successful women’s networking group, called Forum_W.
Young told the attorneys that the women at her firm were “fired up to get to know you.” She noted that “building a book of business” is essential to success in professional services, and that networking is the key to making it happen.
Seattle partner-in-charge Bob Blackstone was in attendance at the empoWer kickoff, where he pledged to support the effort “120 percent” and said he viewed the advancement of women as “critical to our success.”
The empoWer initiative formally launched with a cocktail reception at DWT’s offices on Thurs., May 24, followed by a series of gatherings over the year. These included a Rainmakers Panel and a Networking 101 session. Membership includes over 40 women attorneys from DWT.
In December, empoWer members gathered for a reception at the Seattle Art Museum, followed by a tour of the current exhibition: “Elles: Women Artists From the Centre Pompidou, Paris.” Like the All the food and drink was sourced from women farmers, food artisans, winemakers, and distillers.
The project is just one of many efforts in 2012 to leverage network effects for women at Davis Wright. Here are a few others:
- About 15 women from the D.C. office gathered in February for dinner at the home of partner Laura Handman, where they discussed work/life balance, as well as business development.
- In March, nine women from the Bellevue office gathered for dinner at a local restaurant, a social event organized by Lynn Manolopoulos and Crissa Cugini.
- Also in March, nine women from the San Francisco office met at a small wine shop in the SOMA neighborhood for an evening of group cooking, eating, and drinking, run by the company Parties That Cook.
- In the summer, Seattle partner Cassi Kennan hosted a dinner at her home, attended by almost fifty women, where she led an informal discussion among a panel of five senior women partners from the New York and Seattle offices.
- For the second consecutive year, DWT’s Portland office organized a fall event for women attorneys, clients, and friends at a popular event space, where they could share tips, exchange stories, build relationships, and hear from an inspirational guest speaker. This year’s event, held in November, attracted 70 clients and friends. Opening remarks and introductions were made by Portland partner Chrys Martin, followed by a talk by Carol Gardner, who, in her 50s, started a greeting card company featuring her dog Zelda that has become a national sensation.
- Also in Portland, a group of DWT attorney moms has started getting together quarterly for an informal discussion of working/lawyering/parenting issues.
And more events are already being planned. As the empoWer initiative continues to grow, it will be expanded to include women thought leaders in other industries as well. The three companies hope to take their pilot partnership for business development to other cities where DWT, Moss Adams and US Bank all have regional offices.
“As recognized by our Gold Standard Certification from the Women in Law Empowerment Forum, Davis Wright is already a place where women can excel,” says Loacker. “We are determined to create even more opportunity in the future.”