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  • Mon, February 17, 2020 1:21 PM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)

    Lawyer, Author, Mindfulness Instructor

    The first time I ever heard about implicit bias I was instantly intrigued. Finding that there was a test for it, I jumped at the opportunity to see my results. At the time I was still living in Portland, Oregon – a place that prides itself on being open minded and encouraging diversity – and I figured since I grew up there I would do fairly well on the test. I wasn’t wrong, but what was most revealing to me was that I also wasn't right. The test revealed that I did, in fact, have biases. I was until that moment completely unaware of it, and more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of something like this being hidden away from me in my head. The test makers reassured me that I was fairly normal in these characteristics, but that did little to assuage my Portland hipster ego.

    So what is implicit bias? It’s important to acknowledge that implicit bias resides in an area of our brains that is largely outside our awareness or ability to control. It is an involuntary attitude or stereotype that acts on our decisions and understandings in unconscious, out of sight, way. We don’t even know they are there. Which is why, when the Harvard test revealed it to me those many years ago, I was a bit taken aback.

    Since taking that test I’ve become much more curious, and conscious, of the ways implicit bias works and can be countered in our everyday lives. It is especially important to be aware of the impacts in recruiting, where an oversight of bias can lead to major gaps in hiring.  Which is why I’m excited to hear from the upcoming plenary speaker for the 2020 WALRAA Educational Conference, Jeena Cho.

    Jeena Cho, author of The Anxious Lawyer, will be speaking on Managing Implicit Bias Through Mindfulness at the opening lunch for the Conference, beginning at 12pm, March 10th, at the InterContinental at the Wharf. When it comes to managing bias, the more tools you can add to your toolbox, the better chance there is of creating change. Don’t miss Jeena’s talk and learn how mindfulness can help us create more room to maneuver around implicit bias.

    Want to see how you fare on implicit bias? Click here to take the Harvard sponsored test, Project Implicit, that shattered my illusions those many years ago.

  • Tue, February 11, 2020 2:21 PM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)


    Manager of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
    Thompson Hine LLP
    2020 Educational Conference Committee

    Nirvana Dove is one of three dedicated WALRAA members that have generously volunteered to lead the planning and organization of this year's Educational Conference. The Educational Conference is WALRAA’s largest and most well attended event, and requires a LOT of behind-the-scenes coordination from its committee members. As our February Spotlight member, we take a closer look at what motivates her and how she keeps her balance. Show your support in the comments below!

    1.      How long have you been a member of WALRAA? What has been your favorite experience so far?
    I have been a member of WALRAA since 2015. I think my favorite experience has been serving as co-chair of the Diversity Committee and working closely with a fellow WALRAA member to plan the committee's annual program. This opportunity was a great way to dive deeply into a topic that was important to both of us and allowed us to get to know one another.

    2.      How has WALRAA helped you in your field?
    WALRAA has been a great resource for connecting with people who have been able to provide advice and share information. Through these invaluable connections, I learned more about diversity, equity and inclusion work and, ultimately, decided to focus my career in this field.

    3.      How did you first learn about and get started in Attorney Recruiting/Career Services? 
    After I left legal practice, I spent some time working to identify my passions and the type of work that is fulfilling to me. When I started at Georgetown, I knew that I was interested in DE&I work and I knew I was interested in serving as the type of adviser that I wished I'd had in law school. With that, however, I wasn't really clear on the possibilities for making a career out of this work. Over time, my role at Georgetown became increasingly more focused on DE&I and I honed my interests and focus.

    4.      What is your favorite moment of your career so far? 
    My favorite moments are when either a student or attorney that I've worked with has come back to me to share their achievements. These moments are fulfilling and affirm that I'm accomplishing my goal.

    5.      What is it that challenges you most in your job? 
    The biggest challenges in my job is that there isn't a clear roadmap to guide me and the fact that the changes in our profession that I am working to make will happen slowly and over time.

    6.      How do you balance career and personal life? 
    The support of professional champions/sponsors and ability to work flexibly are critical to my ability to have work-life autonomy to balance my career, family and other responsibilities. At each stage of my career, I carefully review how a particular role will work in connection with the rest of life and I am very transparent about my equal dedication to work and to family. That said, there is never a perfect balance!

    7.      What professional goals have you set for yourself this year? 
    This year, I am looking forward to successfully implementing the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Action Plan that my team developed for our firm in 2019 and continuing to hone my expertise in DE&I best practices and innovative concepts.

    8.      What is the best professional advice you have received? 
    The best professional advice that I have ever received is to engage in work that you love and are passionate about. I'm grateful to be able to do this work.

    9.      What do you like to do for fun? 
    I love to hang out with my kids and my husband, to travel and sleep is also pretty high up there on the list.

    10.  Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know? 
    I nearly pursued a career as a professional ballerina before I went to law school. Quite the different path!

  • Mon, February 10, 2020 10:56 AM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)

    Over the past few weeks, Above the Law has published a two part article on the topic of the law firm hiring process – and it hasn’t been positive. Although the author writes primarily from the perspective of the candidate, and sees the onus of responsibility on the partners, as legal professionals we have a duty to consider our share of the responsibility.

    The two articles explore hiring process pain points including how long the process takes, interviews granted as favors, the stressed out and stretched out interviewee, and the die-hard habits of interview questions, cover and thank you letters.

    Granted, being caught smack in the middle of a non-responsive partner and an eager candidate has often left me feeling frustrated, as I’m sure it has for most in that position. However, the articles bring up good questions for review, and certainly something to talk about. Are there better ways we can be influencing this process? Alternatives for communication during the sometimes incredibly dragged out interview process? How have you handled this problem at your firm, if at all? Let us know in the comments below.  

    Read the first article here, and the second here.

  • Wed, January 08, 2020 11:43 AM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)


    Recruiting and Program Manager
    George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School
    2020 WALRAA President 

    Welcome to a New Year of exciting events, programs, monthly meetings and mentorship from WALRAA! As you may know, stepping up to lead WALRAA in 2020 are several new board members and executives. Our member spotlight focus for this month is the newly elected President, Janie Piemonte. Get to know Janie and her vision for WALRAA in her own words below.

    Message from Janie:

    “I am excited to be the WALRAA President for 2020, the first year of a new 5-year strategic plan for the organization. I look forward to meeting even more of our members and learning how we can best serve all of you. Taking my direction from the great work being done by the strategic plan committee, I hope to be able to increase the developmental programming for all our membership and also re-energize our experienced professionals who have so much wonderful experience to share. I am looking forward to a great year of fun, learning, and professional and personal growth together! “

    1.      How long have you been a member of WALRAA? What has been your favorite experience so far?
    I have been a member of WALRAA for 4 years. I think my favorite experience was probably the WALRAA Happy Hour at the NALP conference in Hollywood, Florida 2 years ago. It was such a great venue and a terrific opportunity to connect with each other.

    2.      How has WALRAA helped you in your field?
    As the main contact for large firm hiring at our law school, WALRAA has been instrumental in helping me develop and strengthen my relationships with the many firms represented.

    3.      How did you first learn about and get started in Attorney Recruiting/Career Services?
    Funny thing is I did not set out to do this particular role, I just took a job in the Career Services area to work with the law students. The role I currently have sort of developed over time as I took on more responsibilities from the counselor previously working with large firms........she is a long time WALRAA member!

    4.      What is your favorite moment of your career so far?
    I think there are moments every year when I see a particular student blossom and come into their own. Helping them navigate the many career options out there and finding the best "fit" for them is very rewarding.

    5.      What is it that challenges you most in your job?
    The legal hiring model can be particularly challenging when I see students I know have great potential experience somewhat limited options due to the emphasis on 1L grades.

    6.      How do you balance your career and personal life?
    Not always particularly well :). I try hard not to check my email on weekends and take time to do something that is fun and rejuvenating.

    7.      What professional goals have you set for yourself this year?
    I feel I can always improve in how I do my current job by thinking broader and sometimes outside the box so that is a goal this year. In addition I am trying to be more mindful in general. I am very action oriented so sometimes I need to be more willing to sit with an idea for a while and let it come to its full potential.

    8.      What is the best professional advice you have received?
    I think the most impactful professional advice I have received was being reminded that not everyone works in the same way but that doesn't make one right or one wrong.

    9.      What do you like to do for fun?
    I love to travel and have time with family, immediate and extended. I also enjoy quiet pursuits like jigsaw puzzles and needlework.

    10.  Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?
    I started my career as a financial trader and my background is actually in financial analysis, very far from what I do now!

    We’d love to know what you think. Leave us a comment about Janie, her vision, or your thoughts on WALRAA’s future in the comments below.

  • Mon, December 30, 2019 1:34 PM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)

    According to today’s Washington Post article, that is exactly where our HR departments are headed. The authors report that the emphasis on belonging grew out of a natural progression from looking at what was working and not working in diversity and inclusion programs. Belonging in the workplace is quickly becoming HR's next hot topic - although not everyone is quite certain how to implement it yet.

    For its proponents, using the word ‘belonging’ is intended to bring in an emotional element of diversity and inclusion, rather than just focusing on bottom line numbers or who is in the room. As subsequent generations of students continue to rise into the ranks of companies (and law firms), they are looking for a sense of community and social connection. Belonging is the word that feels right.

    Have you seen an emphasis on belonging in your firm conversations yet? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Fri, December 27, 2019 12:54 PM | Brittney Rokicki (Administrator)

    The ABA spent two years studying women's decisions to leave large firms and compiled their findings into the report Walking Out The Door. This report compares perspectives from men, women, and managing partners and aims to reveal answers in three focus areas:

    • Everyday experiences that contribute to success for women and men
    • Reasons why women stay vs leave
    • What is working vs not working in regards to advancing women

    While it's not surprising that parental responsibilities are a significant factor influencing women's decisions, what is most revealing about this report is that it is a small part of a much larger picture of gender bias in firms. The authors compare it to "death by a thousand cuts." The lack of access to business development, significant senior female role models, and advancement opportunities in big firms are also discussed as having a significant impact on women in large firms.

    At 20 pages long, the report is an insightful window into what is happening behind the scenes before women choose to leave, and why firms might be missing the mark on getting them to stay. It concludes with concrete action steps for positive change and is well worth the read.  

     Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 

  • Tue, November 19, 2019 11:05 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Director of Attorney Recruiting, Diversity & Development
    Williams & Connolly LLP

    1. How long have you been a member of WALRAA? What has been your favorite experience so far?
    I've been a proud WALRAA member for almost 10 years! My favorite experience has been serving as a WALRAA mentor and having one of my mentees, Sherry Bridge, recently join my firm this year.

    2. How has WALRAA helped you in your field?
    What started as a role focused on attorney recruiting has gradually expanded to include associate development and diversity and inclusion. At times, it has been rather daunting to wade into unknown territory but the support, guidance and resources from fellow WALRAA members has really helped me spread my wings professionally.

    3. How did you first learn about and get started in Attorney Recruiting/Career Services?
    I was a former paralegal at Williams & Connolly. In addition to having tremendous respect for the litigators, I really loved the firm culture and comradery we shared in the trenches. After clerking and litigating elsewhere for several years, when I was ready for a career change, I was welcomed back to lead our attorney recruiting department. Being a former litigator - and my love for socializing - has made recruiting my dream job!

    4. What is your favorite moment of your career so far?
    While our team members have many years of collective experience, we are relatively new to each other. But everyone has really stepped up to support each other personally and professionally in the short time we've worked together, even when we are working long hours, and watching us grow and thrive has easily been the highlight of my career to date.

    5. What is it that challenges you most in your job?
    It's hard for me to say no to a good social event and I often forget that I require more sleep than a summer associate.

    6. How do you balance your career and personal life?
    I don't love the phrase "work life balance" because it implies that my personal and professional life have perfect equilibrium and never overlap. On my best day, I try to be flexible and shift my priorities at home and at work, depending on what the situation requires. On all other days, I try for some self care and pat myself on the back for keeping my children alive and happy. And give a shout out to my husband for doing the same because I couldn't do any of this without an amazing partner.

    7. What professional goals have you set for yourself this year?
    The Diversity Committee hosted a very insightful meeting this year on Law and Parenthood that not only provided attendees with interesting data but gave us practical tips that we could implement at our respective organizations.  It resonated with me as a parent who like so many has struggled with competing demands at home and in the office.  The conversation spurred a group of us to form something we’ve been discussing for a while - the inaugural WALRAA Parents Group which had had its first meeting last month.  It's been heartening to see that there are so many ways to parent and I love getting parents together to learn from each other. Like so many, I've benefitted tremendously from the committee work and networking events that WALRAA has hosted and I welcomed the chance to give back to an organization that has given so much to me.

    8. What is the best professional advice you have received?
    Instead of focusing on the salary, find a job that interests you and you're more likely to work hard at it and turn it into a career.

    9. What do you like to do for fun?
    I love to cook and we have family dinners with my parents every Sunday. Now that I've stopped burning everything in my Williams Sonoma cookbooks, it's become a favorite family tradition.

    10. Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
    I'm an introvert. Just kidding.

  • Tue, July 16, 2019 2:20 PM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written By: John Hollway

    Attorney well-being is a topic of great focus today, and with good reason. Attorneys suffer from very high rates of substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and suicide, and a recent Harvard Business Review article rated law the loneliest profession. This may not surprise you—perhaps you or a colleague is hurting.

    But we owe it to ourselves and our profession to find answers so that we can, first, ensure those who are in crisis mode receive the immediate help and attention they need, and, second, adopt preventive measures to help change the statistics.

    When we talk about “attorney well-being,” what do we mean? “Well-being” and “wellness” are thrown about a lot, and becoming more integrated into conversations around the practice of law, but not everyone means the same things. Well-being is more than ergonomic desks, step challenges and meditation programs (though I’m supportive of all three of those initiatives!). So here, I propose a framework for thinking about well-being in the context of work and the practice of law.

    Full Artile

  • Mon, April 22, 2019 12:14 PM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Legal Recruiting Coordinator
    Perkins Coie LLP

    How long have you been a member of WALRAA? What has been your favorite experience so far?
    I've been a member of WALRAA for two years.  My favorite experience so far was the 2018 Educational Conference.  I thought the breakout sessions were really great!

    How has WALRAA helped you in your field?

    It has allowed me to meet so many others in Legal Recruiting. I'm able to listen to their stories, learn about their experiences, and apply some of their ideas to my own work.

    How did you first learn about and get started in Attorney Recruiting/Career Services?
    I joined Perkins in February 2016 and started helping out with Legal Recruiting that summer (their busiest time).  I became a full time coordinator within the department by April 2017.  

    What is your favorite moment of your career so far?
    I really enjoy getting to meet lateral hires in the different stages of the hiring process. I first meet them in the interview stage and if they're hired, I then get to on-board them and see how they acclimate within firm. I also really enjoy our summer associate program as I attend many of the events with our summers so it adds fun activities to an otherwise very busy time.  

    What is it that challenges you most in your job?
    Honestly, it has to be the workload at the busier times of the year. Our summer associate program won't have even ended when I've already started planning and preparing for OCI.   

    How do you balance your career and personal life?
    While my hours and commute makes a personal life on weekdays a bit more difficult, I find time to see my family and friends as often as I can on the weekends.  

    What professional goals have you set for yourself this year?

    I'd like to continue to learn more about legal recruiting both within my firm and from our WALRAA membership meetings.  

    What is the best professional advice you have received?
    The best professional advice I've received is also echoed by my mom often - be an advocate for yourself!  Fight for what you want and don't take "no" for an answer.

    What do you like to do for fun?
    Cue the common answers - reading, watching tv, movies. I also love spending time with my dog and love to travel as often as I can to new places.  I hope to visit Spain this fall and head somewhere warm over the winter holidays.  

    Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
    I'd have to change this question to "most people at WALRAA" because my friends know I'm a giant nerd.  I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and am still waiting for my letter to Hogwarts...

    Attorney Recruiting & Development Coordinator
    O'Melveny & Myers LLP

    How long have you been a member of WALRAA? What has been your favorite experience so far?
    1 year. I thought the Industry Survey with Eva Wisnik was very helpful. 

    How has WALRAA helped you in your field?

    This is my first law firm job; when I was thinking about switching industries, a WALRAA member told me about the organization, and I reached out to a few people on the board to talk to them about their career paths. These conversations helped me determine that legal recruiting would be a good fit for me, and ultimately positioned me to apply to and accept an offer at O'Melveny. I'm very thankful for WALRAA helping me get my start here and introducing me to a great field!   

    How did you first learn about and get started in Attorney Recruiting/Career Services?
    In my previous role, I helped run our internship program, which quickly became my favorite part of my job. I decided to try to make that piece more of a central part of my day-to-day, and in conversations with others, stumbled on attorney recruiting. 

    What is your favorite moment of your career so far?
    I love our summer associate program! I enjoy the recruiting process and figuring out who is going to be part of our class, as well as planning for their arrival. Their first day at the firm has to be my favorite part though: they bring such a nice energy and excitement to the office as a whole. 

    What is it that challenges you most in your job?
    I think the most challenging part (which I also like) is that we get to wear a lot of hats, and it's just a lot to juggle all of the different components and make sure that you aren't dropping the ball on any of it. It really is true that no two days are the same, which I also really enjoy.   

    How do you balance your career and personal life?
    Honestly, I haven't found this to be too difficult so far. We have a really great team, and when everyone is committed and is working hard when we are at the office, then we can all have a good personal life outside of the office too. Some parts of the year are of course busier than others, but it helps to have a flexible, can-do-it attitude at all times. 

    What professional goals have you set for yourself this year?

    I've learned so much this first year, and I'm excited to continue to learn and grow in year two. Specifically, I'm looking forward to going back through parts of the recruiting cycle for a second time and making recommendations for ways we can improve based on my previous experiences. 

    What do you like to do for fun?
    I like to get outside as much as possible, especially now that the weather is warming up! I also love attending concerts (preferably at Wolf Trap or another outdoor venue). My husband and I love to travel; we are planning a trip to South Africa this year, which I'm very excited about. 

    Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
    I love dachshunds. I had a dachshund growing up named Buddy, and it makes me very happy when I see one walking around DC. I look forward to the day when I can have my own again! 

  • Tue, April 16, 2019 4:36 PM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    When Major, Lindsey & Africa released its 2018 Partner Compensation Survey, showing that male partners earn 53 percent more than female partners at top U.S. law firms, well-deserved attention was placed on this persistent problem. Since the survey’s inception in 2010, male partners have consistently reported substantially higher average compensation than female partners. Because underlying factors causing this pay gap are complex, the search for solutions requires robust discussion and collaboration among everyone in the industry.

    One voice with a special stake in the gender pay gap—and a special ability to help solve it—is that of the legal recruiting industry. Legal recruiters serve as intermediaries and trusted advisers between firms and candidates, and have a unique view of talent across the industry. By coaching highly qualified candidates to fully advocate for and market themselves while also assisting law firm clients in analyzing the value of a lawyer or group of lawyers’ practices, recruiters are in a unique position to help move the needle on closing the gap.

    Indeed, because successful legal recruiters have a broad view of the industry, the work we do to help address pervasive issues like the gender pay gap starts as early as law school and extends throughout a lawyer’s career. Here’s how we can make a difference.

    Full Article

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