Friday, August 12, 2011


Highlights from the Hastings Leadership Academy for Women

At last month’s Hastings Leadership Academy for Women (LAW), twenty-one women partners from firms across the country spent three and a half focused days on building their leadership skills with business-based curriculum and practical skills practice. Here are some highlights:

Ida Abbott, Co-Director of LAW, led off the program with a discussion of women’s leadership roles and paths for getting there. Ida set a framework for different ways people approach their career planning: setting goals, setting direction, and having a general sense of what’s important to them.

An especially lively discussion centered around social networks. Professor Joan C. Williams, Co-Director of LAW, led a program which reviewed the social science research on networks. Joan explained the differences between “clique networks,” that is, networks that are closed and where everyone knows each other, and “entrepreneurial networks” where one person can serve as a connector of otherwise unconnected networks. Participants learned about the value of both strong ties and breaking into new circles and talked about ways to cement weak ties.

This conversation tied in well with the program “ Bringin’ in the Rain: Effective Business Development” with Sara Holtz. Sara focused on developing the marketing mindset and having consistent follow up with a short list of high potential business prospects.

Carol Frohlinger worked with the participants to negotiate for themselves in her workshop “Claiming Your Place at the Table.” She laid out a negotiation framework and highlighted strategic moves, helping the partners to approach self-advocacy with the same skills and confidence that they use for their clients. With the information from the PAR/MCCA study on compensation systems, this conversation led to much discussion on how to negotiate for fair compensation.

A keynote speech from Mary Cranston was the highlight of the day where LAW alumnae and in-house counsel also attended. Mary spoke honestly about her vision, facing fears, and setting goals (without judgment as to the outcome) as keys to her career success. It was truly an inspirational talk.

The Leadership Academy will take place again July 11-14, 2012 in San Francisco, with a special day of programming for alumnae and in-house counsel on July 13th. More information will be posted at


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