Women’s Leadership & Advancement Forum

Promoting the Pow[h]er of Attorney

This fall, the Boston Bar Association introduced a forum dedicated to promoting and generating fundamental change across areas of gender inequality within the legal profession. Led by an advisory committee, the forum will bring together leaders in the legal community to discuss issues they face within their firms, corporations and other legal departments and seek to identify resources and best practices to empower women lawyers and bridge the opportunity gap.


The Mechanics of Inclusive Recruiting and Hiring Practices
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
12:00 PM – 1:15 PM
via Zoom

Join the BBA Women’s Leadership and Advancement Forum for the second part in our series on inclusive  recruiting, hiring, and retention a discussion on creating and implementing inclusive recruiting and hiring practices in law firms and legal departments. Panelist will draw on their experiences with on-campus recruiting, lateral hiring, and interview and applicant evaluation processes, to provide law firm leaders and hiring partners with the concrete steps they can take to create a more inclusive legal team.



Tracey West
Diversity and Inclusion Director


Natasha Varyani
Associate Professor of Law
New England Law Boston


April English
Assistant Attorney General, Chief of Organization Development & Inclusion
Office of Massachusetts Attorney General


The Leadership Development Fund of the Boston Bar Foundation provides critical support for the Women’s Leadership and Advancement Forum.  For more information on the BBF or this fund, please contact Megan Leppert at mleppert@bostonbar.org or (617) 778-1924.



Deborah Barnard

Professional Development & Growth Partner
Holland and Knight LLP


Giselle Joffre

Foley Hoag


Kathryn Alessi


April English
Chief of Organizational Development and Diversity
Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General


Susan Finegan
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.


Courtney Hayden


Kathy Henry
General Counsel
Eastern Bank


Kanasha Herbert
VP, Senior Counsel
State Street

Peggy Ho

Peggy Ho
Executive Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Head of Government Relations
LPL Financial


Renee Inomata
Casner & Edwards


Sarah Kim
General Counsel
Treasurer and Receiver General of MA


Diana Lloyd


Carla Moynihan
Sherin and Lodgen


Suma Nair
Goulston & Storrs


Christine Netski
Managing Partner
Sugarman Rogers


Angela Onwuachi-Willig
Boston University School of Law


Payal Salsburg
Laredo & Smith


Paige Scott Reed
Prince Lobel


Manleen Singh
Robins Kaplan


Patricia Washienko
Washienko Frieberger


Addressing and Disrupting the Myths of Law Firm Hiring
Friday, May 14, 2021
10:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Join the BBA Women’s Leadership and Advancement Forum for a discussion addressing the myths surrounding hiring women and lawyers of color and how these myths create barriers and impact firms’ abilities to attract, hire, and retain talent. Panelist will discuss the perception, the reality, and provide concrete steps law firm leaders and hiring partners can take to build a more inclusive legal team.


Sandra S. Yamate, The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession
Suma V. Nair,
Goulston & Storrs PC
Sharisse Cail Perry,
Cail Perry and Associates
Jennifer Carriòn,
Morgan Lewis

Left Out and Left Behind: A Discussion on Women of Color in the Legal Profession
Thursday, November 19, 2020
5:30 PM to 6:30 PM
Via Zoom

The ABA Commission on Women in the Profession has released its latest study, Left Out and Left Behind: the Hurdles, Hassles, and Heartaches of Achieving Long Term Legal Careers for Women of Color. Two authors of the study, Paulette Brown, Chief Diversity Officer, Locke Lord LLP, and Eileen Letts, Partner, Zuber Lawler & Del Duca LLP, will share the results of this study and the impact that the paucity of women lawyers of color has on the administration of justice. Participants will learn about the concrete recommendations presented in Left Out and Left Behind, including adopting best practices for reducing biases in decision making; going beyond recruitment to inclusion; and incorporating an intersectional approach to addressing diversity and gender.

The report itself shows that:

  • women lawyers of color surveyed were far more likely to want to leave the profession than their white colleagues
  • were more likely to be subjected to both implicit and explicit bias
  • were more likely to report factors that blocked their “access to success,” including access to business development opportunities, being perceived as less committed to career and being denied or overlooked for promotion.

Join us for a fireside chat discussion followed by an audience Q&A.


Paulette Brown, Locke Lord LLP
Eileen Letts, Zuber Lawler & Del Duca

The Reward of Risk
Thursday, June 7, 2018
4:30 PM to 6:30 PM
Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

Afraid to make a professional leap? Hear how other successful women have reaped the rewards of taking risks in their careers. This program includes a dynamic panel discussion with women who have leaped across legal sectors and industries as well speed mentoring with these accomplished women for program attendees. Get ready to get risky.


Hon. Vickie L. Henry, Massachusetts Appeals Court
Kathleen Cloherty Henry, Eastern Bank
Mala M. Rafik, Rosenfeld & Rafik, P.C.
Carol V. Rose, American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLU)
Carol Ann Starkey, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP

Business Development and Personal Branding
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
4:30 PM to 6:30 PM
Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

Want to hear more about how to develop business and your own personal brand? This session will focus on how women can hone their brand, use their networks and increase self-promotion. Successful business developers will explain how they have built their careers and how they “make the ask” for business.


Kristina Bieker-Brady, McDermott Will & Emery
Deborah Birnbach, Goodwin
Juliet Davison, Davison Law LLC
Deborah Scaringi, Scaringi Marketing

Successful Transitions to In-House and Government Practice
Thursday, April 12, 2018
4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

This program is designed to provide advice to mid-level attorneys looking to transition into either in-house or government practice. Panelists will share their experiences and best-practices. Following the panel discussion, we will break up into smaller groups for more intimate conversations.


Abim Thomas, Vertex
Navjeet Bal, Social Finance, Inc.
Peggy Ho, LPL Financial
Christina Miller, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Gabrielle Viator, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

Flourishing as a Mid-Level Associate
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
4:30 PM to 6:30 PM
Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

This program is designed to give practical advice to mid-level female associates at law firms. A panel presentation will be followed by a highly interactive format, where participants will share best practices with other mid-level associates and leading female partners. Topics include:

  • Maximizing Your Potential in Your Client Work
  • Outside the Billable Hour: Connecting and Learning Inside and Outside the Firm
  • Taking Ownership of Your Career, and Taking Care of Yourself

Rebecca D. Raphaelson, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Jane E. Willis, Ropes & Gray LLP
Elizabeth Monnin-Browder, Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP
Deborah J. Manus, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP
Susan M. Finegan, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Alison Christine Casey, Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP

GRIT: The Secret of Advancement
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
3:30 PM to 6:30 PM
Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

View Program Gallery.

Two of the common characteristics of highly successful women lawyers are Grit and Growth Mindset.  Research shows that these traits can be learned.  Grit is defined as “perseverance and passion for  long-term goals” and teamed with a Growth Mindset – the view that one’s  abilities can be developed – they have been identified as important tools that aid highly successful women attorneys in handling challenging situations in the practice of law.  Join Milana  L. Hogan, Ed.D, the author of Grit, The Secret to Advancement (a book recently published by the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession) and a panel of esteemed Massachusetts women lawyers who have used Grit and Growth Mindset to advance their own success in the profession.  The panel presentation will be followed by break-out groups and a facilitated discussion in these small groups on how to handle challenging situations in the profession.  A reception will follow.

Moderator: Maureen Mulligan, Peabody & Arnold LLP

Panel Members:
Lisa Arrowood, Arrowood LLP
Honorable Heidi Brieger, Massachusetts Superior Court
Milana Hogan, Ed. D., Author Grit, The Secret to Advancement
Jennifer Inker, Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel. Fidelity
Karla Jarvis, Vice President & General Counsel, The Rockport Group
Sarah Kim, General Counsel to the Treasurer and Receiver General of Massachusetts
Lauren Rikleen, Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership

Women’s Leadership and Advancement Kickoff Event
Thursday, November 16, 2017

5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Boston College Club – 100 Federal Street, Boston, MA


Michele Coleman Mayes
Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
The New York Public Library

Michele Coleman Mayes is Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for the New York Public Library (NYPL).  Ms. Mayes joined NYPL in August 2012 after serving as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Allstate Insurance Company since 2007. She served as Chair of the Commission on Women in the Profession of the American Bar Association from 2014-2017. She served as a Senior Vice President and the General Counsel of Pitney Bowes Inc. from 2003 to 2007 and in several legal capacities at Colgate-Palmolive from 1992 to 2003.  In 1982, Ms. Mayes entered the corporate sector as managing attorney of Burroughs Corporation.  After Burroughs and Sperry Corporation merged, creating Unisys Corporation, she was appointed Staff Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Worldwide Litigation.  From 1976 through 1982, she served in the U.S. Department of Justice as an Assistant United States Attorney in Detroit and Brooklyn, eventually assuming the role of Chief of the Civil Division in Detroit.  Ms. Mayes received a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.

Ms. Mayes served on the Presidential Commission on Election Administration from 2013-2014. She served as Chair of the Commission on Women in the Profession of the American Bar Association from 2014-2017. Effective in 2015, she was appointed as an Advisor to the ABA Business Law Section, and in that same year, became a Fellow of the American College of Governance Counsel. In August 2016, she was elected to the Board of Directors of Gogo Inc. (NASDAQ: GOGO).



Anderson Kreiger LLP
Arrowood LLP
Barclay Damon, LLP
Beck Reed Riden LLP
Burns & Levinson LLP
Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP
Dain Torpy Le Ray Wiest & Garner, P.C.
Davis, Malm & D’Agostine, P.C.
Eastern Bank
Foley Hoag
Goulston Storrs, PC
Greenberg Traurig
Hinckley Allen
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP
Hogan Lovells
Holland & Knight LLP
Krokidas & Bluestein LLP
Laredo & Smith ,LLP
LPL Financial
Margolis & Bloom
McLane Middleton
Mintz Levin
Morgan Lewis
Nixon Peabody LLP
Peabody & Arnold LLP
Pierce Atwood LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP
Rosenfeld & Rafik, P.C.
Schwartz Hannum
Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green PA
Sherin & Lodgen LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Strang, Scott, Giroux & Young LLP
Suffolk University School of Law
Sugarman Rogers Barshak & Cohen, P.C.
Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers LLP
Todd & Weld LLP

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