Diversity Scorecard 2014: Women Closing The Gender Gap
Last year, Aracely Alicia and Peyton White Lumpkin, former associates at White & Case, formed the Dos Equis group. The group's purpose was not socializing or networking, but to give a cross-generational group of female lawyers the opportunity to share information about the business of law. Now, about 24 women from law firms like Bilzin Sumberg and Katz Barron are members.
"We can ask questions you're afraid to voice at your law firm," said Alicia, who just made partner at Alvarez Arrieta & Diaz-Silveira in Miami. "I call them black box topics, which are not so openly shared. We didn't exclude men for negative reasons. It's just that we wanted a space where we feel more comfortable with our peers."
The Miami chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers also is doing its part to promote women. The group recently created a position to monitor leadership openings and notify FAWL's 400 members when there are openings for judicial seats, a Florida Bar board post or judicial nominating commissions.
"We are working hard to lean in and help women," said Sherrill Colombo, president of the Miami chapter of FAWL. "We really get behind our members to let them know there are opportunities out there."
Female general counsel are making an effort to position their business with female outside counsel. At a recent female general counsel seminar held at Greenberg Traurig in Miami, that issue was discussed by Angela Camacho, associate general counsel of Microsoft Latin America; Adrienne Cornejo, vice president of legal affairs for Phoenix Group LLC; and Catherine Smith, senior vice president and general counsel for Brightstar Corp.
When she asks for a law firm recommendation, Cornejo said she gets a man's name nine out of 10 times. So she personally scours law firm websites for female partners. If there isn't one in the practice area she's looking for, she will contact a female senior associate.
"The reason I do that very deliberately is because if there's a chance that a woman will get credit for the business, then I've helped her build her book of business," Cornejo said. "That's the only way that the needle is going to move because women will not become partners until they have a book of business, and they will not have a book of business until we hire them."
Cornejo said she feels a moral obligation to hire women.
"For more than 10 years, 50 percent of the people graduating from law schools are women, so the question is why are there still only 16 percent female equity partners," she said. "There's obviously a problem there, and I think we need to be part of the solution as women, and I think we have a moral obligation to our female peers to do what we can to make those numbers grow."
Building On Friendship
Brightstar's Smith started giving her business to Greenberg Traurig shareholder Patricia Menendez-Cambo after they met at a social event and bonded talking about their children.