Beyond Bias: Unleashing the Potential of Women in Law

Beyond Bias: Unleashing the Potential of Women in Law highlights the practical steps firms should be taking to address training, leadership, and retention,  issues of female lawyers and how to start moving the needle. 

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  • Publication date: June, 2017
  • Pages: 90
  • ISBN: 978-1-78358-288-4


The lack of women in power positions represents a poor return on investment for law firms, and could be costing them far more than they think in both economic and cultural terms. Quite aside from the widely accepted understanding that more diverse teams perform better, research shows that it actually costs more and takes longer to replace female partners than their male colleagues.  Moreover, the scarcity of women mentors could be having a long-lasting effect on up-and-coming female associates. 

The problem is far from new but law firms’ usual answers – business development training, diversity programs, investment in “women’s initiatives” – doesn’t seem to be having much of an effect, despite the collective millions firms are spending on these. The numbers of women attaining power positions in law firms have remained static for decades. By contrast, the percentage of women holding GC positions in Fortune 500 companies is growing, and women are increasingly likely to be found in in-house roles. 

Packed with fascinating insight, experience, and research from a broad range of lawyers, coaches, academics, thought leaders, and consultants, Beyond Bias: Unleashing the Potential of Women in Law considers just how much firms are costing themselves by failing to promote and retain talented women, the reasons their efforts have so far seen so little return, and the practical steps they can take to start to move the needle. We’ll also consider what women can do more of to create and seize opportunities, claim credit where it’s due, and get the most out of their business development efforts, wherever they practice. 

Beyond Bias redresses some ancient wrongs with practical observations although who can say where we are going and where we will end up:  the book is a major start on this new road so do read it soon." review by Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers and Phillip Taylor MBE, Head of Chambers and Reviews Editor, “The Barrister”. See the full review here.


Executive summary

About the authors

Chapter 1: Cheaper to Keep ’er – The economic impact of losing female talent at law firms

By Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio, behavioral economist and chair of Harvard Law School’s Executive Leadership Research Initiative for Women and Minority Attorneys at the Center on the Legal Profession

  • The power of big data to quantify the loss
  • What’s included in the cost of turnover?
  • Women leaders: Expensive to replace
  • The implications
  • Conclusion

Chapter 2: Fix it, not them – How to increase the number of women in positions of power

By Patricia K. Gillette, keynote speaker and former law firm partner

  1. The Mansfield Rule
  2. Enhancing opportunities for building client relationships
  3. Scanning performance reviews and feedback for gender inequities
  4. Implicit bias training

Chapter 3: Getting rid of mindless barriers to advancement

By Ellen Ostrow, Ph.D., PCC, CMC, founding principal of Lawyers Life Coach

  • Psychological inflexibility 
  • Psychological flexibility
  • Acceptance and commitment training (ACT) to reduce biased responding
  • Research evidence
  • ACT for women lawyers

Chapter 4: Balance – A radical new “B word” for the powerful woman 

By Janice P. Brown, founder and senior partner in the Brown Law Group

  • What is power?
  • What does a powerful woman look like?
  • What is true power?
  • When do you become “powerful beyond measure?”

Chapter 5: Reclaiming the next generation – Understanding and leveraging millennials in your workplace

By Katherine M. Larkin-Wong, associate at Latham & Watkins LLP

  • What defines “millennial”?
  • Are millennial lawyers the same and what can law firms do to keep them?
  • Millennials are here to stay – How will you engage them?

Chapter 6: Getting down to business development – What works for women?

By Carol Frohlinger, founder of Negotiating Women Inc.

  • Introduction 
  • What should women keep doing?
  • What should women do more of? 
  • What should women do less of? 
  • Appendix A: Summary of “Business Development in the
  • ‘New Normal’” 

Chapter 7: Striking the self-promotion balance

By Debbie Epstein Henry, founder and president of Flex-Time Lawyers LLC and co-founder and managing director of Bliss Lawyers

  1. Be great
  2. Be prepared
  3. Observe others
  4. Credit others
  5. Benefi t others
  6. Get help
  7. Own it
  8. Take risk
  9. Make the ask
  10. Show initiative
  11. Pay attention to the details
  12. Understand you will mess up
  13. Develop a signature

Chapter 8: Does size really matter?

By Cathy Fleming, partner at Fleming.Ruvoldt PLLC

  • Mistake #1: Always believing what Big Law managers tell you 
  • Mistake #2: Not marketing on a daily basis
  • Mistake #3: Targeting the wrong clients
  • Mistake #4: Not making sure you are happy
  • Mistake #5: Thinking Big Law is the only source of excellent lawyers
  • Mistake #6: Believing that clients will come to you just because you are a good lawyer 
  • Mistake #7: Not respecting adequately the referring source of business
  • Conclusion

Chapter 9: Using personal interests to help make it rain

By Audra A. Dial, managing partner, Atlanta office of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton

  • Social outings
  • Vision boarding
  • Book club
  • Gift giving 
  • Celebrating anniversaries of success 
  • Monster jam 
  • Holiday lights at the botanical garden
  • Final thoughts
Contents and Summary


Patricia K. Gillette
Patricia K. Gillette is one of the country’s leading experts and most sought-after speakers on gender diversity and equality. She was a top-rated employment lawyer and litigator for 40 years as well as a major rainmaker in her firms. In 2015 she resigned as a law firm partner to pursue her passion for changing the legal profession as an author and keynote speaker. Patricia was also invited to join JAMS and now spends some of her time mediating employment-related cases.
Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio
Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D., is a behavioral economist and chair of the Executive Leadership Research Initiative for Women and Minority Attorneys at the Center for the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School and a Senior Research Fellow, jointly appointed at HLS and Harvard Kennedy (WAPPP). She can be reached at
Audra A. Dial
Audra Dial is the managing partner for Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP’s Atlanta office. Audra is an experienced litigator practicing in the firm’s nationally recognized Patent Litigation Team, in addition to handling complex commercial litigation involving technology. She focuses her practice on complex federal court litigation involving trade secrets, patent disputes, restrictive employment covenants, and complex business disputes involving intellectual property. Audra has obtained favorable verdicts in many high-profile intellectual property disputes, including on behalf of several Fortune 500 companies. She has represented companies whose intellectual property was misused both domestically and abroad.    
Cathy Fleming
Cathy Fleming is a refugee from Big Law and a name partner in a nine-lawyer firm with offices in New York City and the Meadowlands, New Jersey. Previously she served as chair of a White Collar Group, Chair of Tax Investigations Group, and as managing partner of a New York City Office of several AmLaw 200 firms. Cathy is a former federal prosecutor, including serving as chief of special prosecutions as an assistant united states attorney in the District of New Jersey. Cathy focuses her practice on complex civil litigation and white-collar criminal cases. She has extensive experience in commercial, securities, employment, tax, antitrust, health care law, and international extraditions. Cathy has tried more than 60 cases to verdict, most of which have been in federal courts, including in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California. She conducts internal integrity audits and investigations for corporations and public bodies. She also provides counsel to corporate management and committees and has represented members of special committees in defense against shareholder complaints in federal and state tender offer litigation. Cathy represents companies and its executives and employees in criminal, tax, SEC, and other federal and state investigations. A significant portion of Cathy’s work cannot be disclosed, since the matters were never made public. Cathy is a past president of the National Association of Women Lawyers. She has been named a Super Lawyer in New York each year since its inception in 2006. Cathy has been married to Steven John Abrams since 1980. They have two grown children and a very spoiled cavalier king charles spaniel.
Carol Frohlinger
Carol Frohlinger is the president of Negotiating Women Inc., an advisory firm committed to helping organizations to advance talented women into leadership positions. Coauthor of Her Place at the Table: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success, Carol has over 15 years’ experience in designing, developing, and delivering highly customized programs for executive women. Using social science research about the systemic factors that impact female leaders as the context, Carol’s approach emphasizes practical skills that equip women to position themselves to best advantage. Among the topics she focuses on are leadership, communication, personal branding, strategic networking, and of course negotiation. Her current research is focused on the systemic issues that women in professional services firms must negotiate to succeed, particularly those related to business development. Her recent white paper, “Business Development in the ‘New Normal’” was published by Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute and included recommendations for actions professional services firms can take to improve results for both men and women. On the organizational change side of the gender parity challenge, Carol consults with senior leaders, designs diagnostic surveys, conducts focus groups with women at all levels, and advises firms about how to launch and support women’s initiatives that deliver a solid return on investment. Carol recently served as an advisor to a team comprising six law firm partners that won third place in the Women in Law Hackathon (a “shark tank” style competition) intended to create innovative solutions to the gender equity problem in the legal profession. She is also the “practitioner in residence” at the Women, Leadership and Equality Program at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Carol is an affiliated faculty member of the Simmons School of Management and teaches at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Formerly, Carol served on the faculty of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law Leadership Academy for Women. Her advice has been featured by The Today Show, CBS MoneyWatch, NPR, and the New York Times, among other mainstream media. Frequently called upon to provide expert input by publications serving professional services firms, Carol also contributes articles to specialty journals such as Managing Partner and the ALM Law Journal’s Marketing the Law Firm. Carol serves on the Women in the Legal Profession Committee of the New York City Bar Association and formerly co-chaired its Business and Leadership sub-committee. She co-authored “What You Need to Know About Negotiating Compensation”, a publication of the American Bar Association’s Presidential Task Force on Gender Equity and also served on the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of the Legal Profession. Carol volunteers with The Thirty Percent Coalition, an organization with a mission to increase the number of women on the boards of America’s publicly held companies. She has been honored by The International Alliance for Women with its “World of Difference Award” and was named to the Top 50 Most Influential Women List by the Irish Voice. Carol holds a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law. 
Debbie Epstein Henry
Debbie Epstein Henry is an expert, consultant, best-selling author, and public speaker on careers, workplaces, women and law. She is the Founder of DEH Consulting, Speaking Writing that consults to companies, firms, non-profits and individuals. She wrote two ABA best-selling books, Law & Reorder (author, 2010) and Finding Bliss (co-author, 2015) and her work has been featured by hundreds of news outlets including The New York Times, NBC Nightly News and The Wall Street Journal.  Debbie built a network of over 10,000 US lawyers and co-founded Bliss Lawyers, a majority women-owned company that employs lawyers to work in-house and at law firms. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Anne X. Alpern Award and being named among the Philadelphia Business Journal "Women of Distinction.”
Katherine Larkin-Wong
Katherine Larkin-Wong is a Litigation and Trial Associate in the San Francisco office of Latham & Watkins LLP and a member of the firm’s Antitrust and White Collar practice groups. Katie is a former president and now board emeritus of Ms. JD, chair of the Social Impact Incubator, and a Board Member and of the Associates Committee. She is a frequent writer and speaker on millennial lawyers and diversity in the law, and is herself a proud millennial. You can connect with her via Twitter @kmlarkinwong. 
Ellen Ostrow, Ph.D
Ellen Ostrow, Ph.D., PCC, CMC is a strategic talent advisor, psychologist, certified coach, and founding principal of Lawyers Life Coach LLC. Since starting her firm in 1998 she has provided executive, leadership, and career coaching to many hundreds of attorneys at all levels of seniority in private practice, corporate legal departments, government, the judiciary and non-profits. She also consults with practice groups, law firms, and corporate legal departments on strategic talent management and diversity and inclusion. Ellen is particularly known for her expertise on addressing barriers to the advancement of women in the profession and has spoken and written widely on these issues. She is the exclusive WILEF (Women in Law Empowerment Forum) endorsed leadership coach and serves as co-vice-chair of WILEF DC as well as on WILEF’s global board. She is the co-chair of the board of the ThirdPath Institute and serves on the District of Columbia Bar’s Board of Governors. Ellen is an advisor and coach for the DiversityLab’s OnRamp Fellowship and a consultant for its Women-in-Law Hackathon. Ellen’s deep understanding of the complexities of human behavior, motivation, emotion, and learning, derived from both her training in psychology and 30-plus years of experience working with individuals and organizations to facilitate change, combined with almost 20 years of working exclusively with attorneys and their employers, provides Ellen with a unique skill set among lawyer coaches and consultants. Ellen received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Rochester and her coach training from MentorCoach©. She has served on the psychology faculties of three universities as well as teaching several master classes for MentorCoach
Janice P. Brown
Attorney Janice P. Brown is the founding partner of Brown Law Group. Growing up in Montana, Janice Brown went to work for the U.S. Justice Department as a trial attorney in the tax division in 1984. Recruited right out of law school into Justices’ Honor Program in Tax, Ms. Brown tried lawsuits on behalf of the United States in venues throughout the western United States, including Iowa, Colorado, Nebraska, California and Texas. In 1987, Janice Brown was chosen Trial Lawyer of the Year at the US Department of Justice. This early recognition would prove to be one of many honors and awards to follow. She went on to be a partner in the firm Seltzer, Caplan, Wilkins and McMahon. She also began to visualize the client-focused philosophy that would be the basis for her own firm.

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