5 Big Gender Parity Ideas from a Stanford Law Conference

On Friday, we covered Women in Law Hackathon at Stanford Law School.

Nine teams comprised of nine members each pitched ideas to a panel of judges about how to improve gender parity in law firms. They competed for prizes to be donated to an organization of their choosing: 1st place $10,000, 2nd place $7,500 and 3rd place $5,000.

Now we have an overview of the winners below.

First Place

Few things motivate lawyers to work into the dark of the night like the Benjamins.

So why not use that profit-seeking mentality for good?

That was the gist of the idea that took home the top prize at last week’s conference. The first place winner was an app called SMART, or Solutions to Measure, Advance and Reward Talent.

In her speech introducing SMART, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s Perlette Jura said firms value the wrong things and incentivize the wrong behavior.

But SMART would create an objective, transparent method to evaluate attorneys and assign compensation based on eight different metrics:

  1. Billable and Pro Bono Hours
  2. Business Development
  3. Advancing Diversity
  4. Quality of Work
  5. Client Satisfaction
  6. Lawyer Development
  7. Leadership and Initiative
  8. External Visibility

Law firms, of course, have built in at least some (if not all) of these metrics in evaluating compensation.

Deborah Epstein Henry, a legal consultant who worked on the proposal, said: “What is really distinguishable is that for the first time, it shows contributions by attorneys throughout the firm and shows them in relation to each other. Attorneys that log their contributions immediately get feedback so they know how they should be spending time. That relative comparison has never been done during a compensation or evaluation process.”

Firms can decide how much weight they give each metric in the evaluation process.

Another added benefit about the SMART app to women is that it tracks performance on a rolling basis. “All the studies show that women don’t brag about their accomplishments as much. Men have an easier time talking about their accomplishments.”

Now, the team hopes that law firms will adopt the so-called SMART app, which has yet to be developed.

The SMART team was: Eva Davis, Winston & Strawn, Chris Groll, Holland & Hart, Lynn Pasahow, Fenwick & West, Katie Larkin-Wong, Latham & Watkins, Cate Stetson, Hogan Lovells, Reid Schar, Jenner & Block, Deborah Epstein Henry, Flex-Time Lawyers, and Rachel Boochever, Stanford Law School.

 

Second Place

What if institutional clients played a bigger role in helping women attorneys develop? The idea of enlisting clients from large institutions who are committed to advancing women in law caught the attention of judges and won a second place prize of $7,500.

Jessica Everett-Garcia of Perkins Coie pitched a plan that would seek out involvement from clients specifically in relationship succession planning. Currently, she said, “Very few firms actually involve the client in this dialogue.”

That team consisted of the following lawyers: Maja Eaton, Sidley Austin, Jessica Everett-Garcia, Perkins Coie, Andrea Farley, Troutman Sanders, Michael Florey, Fish & Richardson, Avery Blank, Avery Blank Consulting, Sang Lee, SJL Shannon, David Koschik, White & Case, Karol Kepchar, Akin Gump, Erika Merit Douglas, Stanford Law School.

 

Third Place

“The Five Year Moment” describes the challenging period two the three years before partnership, and then two to three years after partnership. A proposal for firms to develop a 20-point business development support plan to guide lawyers through that time won third place, $5,000.

The winning team consisted of: Brett Bartlett, Seyfarth Shaw, Lisa Kobialka, Kramer Levin, Mike McNamara, Dentons, Dawn Schluter, Miller Canfield, James Wareham, Fried Frank, Diana Kruze, Morrison Foerster, Carol Frohlinger, Negotiating Women, Jenny Waters, National Association of Women Lawyers and Anna Jaffe, Stanford Law School.

There was also a crowd favorite award given to two teams, which proposed applying a Rooney Rule to law firms, and another that proposed an app that tracked how much time attorneys spent including women in their client pitches and work.

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