It Is Up to Us to Level the Field

Power and privilege are passed to those who look and feel similar to the holders of power and privilege. This is how power and privilege are sequestered by men. It preserves the status quo. It is not for lack of woman-to-woman collaboration and shared enterprise that the vast volume of power and privilege flows from the male ranks. It is because the power and privilege rests, to this day, in the hands of men, and is often passed down to men. While the pipeline may contain men and women, it is a too common occurrence that only the men are recognized and the women are passed over.

This paradigm can only shift if men are equally committed to enacting real change. I was fortunate to have a former professor and male lawyer colleague as a mentor. He was, and still is, a man of great integrity, who blends blatant honesty and strategic finesse in his dealings with people facing extraordinarily challenging legal problems. He also gave me my first legal case, helped me publish my first legal article, and put me on my first board of directors of a law-related professional association. Throughout most of my career, men have given me the privilege of introductions to others, case work, and business origination connections.

For this reason, women need to be ever more astute and alert to their own passage of benefits, opportunity, power, and privilege. Mentorship is ever more important for women lawyers and women entrepreneurs. It is up to women to reach for opportunities and when attained, to pass the opportunities down the pipeline of women. It is up to women partners to take the business financial records and explain them in painstaking detail to the younger generation of women associates. It is our obligation as leaders in our field to pass business development opportunities to women by introducing women to our good networks, by sharing the most robust job leads with women, and by voting in favor of and promoting women on boards and in the boardroom. If we can eventually complete our careers knowing that we leveled the field of opportunity between the sexes, then we will have done well. I hope and aspire to be some young female lawyer’s hero someday.