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Posted on: Mar 15, 2019

Celebrating Women’s Voices in the Courtroom

By Emily Dodane, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP

The Women’s Voices in the Courtroom event took place on Friday, January 25 at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. The event was well attended (and even had a waiting list). The event’s facilitators, speakers, and topics discussed were simultaneously engaging, informative and at times, even comedic.

One panel focused on women in the judiciary. This panel featured the Hon. Diane P. Wood, Chief Judge of the Seventh Circuit of Appeals; the Hon. Jane E. Magnus Stinson, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana; the Hon. Loretta H. Rush, Chief Justice for the Indiana Supreme Court and was moderated by the Hon. Nancy H. Vaidik, Chief Judge for the Indiana Court of Appeals. This all-star panel was refreshing in that not only did they discuss their successful careers, but they also each shared a personal story of adversity which they overcame. The panelists noted that resiliency and perseverance helped to get them to where they are today. 

Also noteworthy, Chief Justice Rush spoke about sponsorship versus mentorship in the context of women helping women. Sponsoring other women goes one step further than mentoring. Mentors advise but sponsors advocate. She emphasized the importance of sponsoring women by identifying and encouraging other women to seek leadership opportunities like running for school boards or serving on committees. 

Executive Director of the Tobias Leadership Center and Professor of Business at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business Julie Manning Magid spoke briefly on the disparity of women represented at higher levels within the legal profession. She also highlighted a forthcoming manuscript written by Sloan Crawford, a law student, titled Hoosier Women in the Law, that will focus specifically on Indiana women lawyers.

The latter half of the event featured a panel of female litigators at various stages in their careers and another panel comprised of in-house counsel from the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Eli Lilly and Company and Cummins Inc. The corporate counsel panel discussed the role that counsel can play in promoting diversity within the firms they hire. Cummins and Eli Lilly both track diversity in outside counsel in some way. Some examples mentioned were tracking hours billed by female associates and formally evaluating firms’ efforts to increase the diversity of the lawyers working on their matters routinely.

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