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Coalition News and Events

August/September, 2014


Coalition Events


September 9:

In-House Social Event


September 17: 

StepUp A View from the Top


September 18: 

Style & Success Event


October 1: 

Annual Meeting


October 2:

Book Club Event


October 28:

Women Working Together: Using Data to Change the Future


November 18:

5th Annual Leadership Forum


December 10

Holiday Party


To find out more about these events, please visit

 The Coalition's Website 

Welcome New Members!


Akerman LLP


McDonald Hopkins LLC


In-House Committee Networking Event

September 9, 2014

 Join fellow Coalition Members for a fun social night of networking in Oak Brook.



1415 W. 22nd Street

Oak Brook, IL  

6:00 p.m.


 RSVP Today!



5th Annual

Leadership Forum


 The program will feature our awards presentation and a keynote speech from Pamela Ryckman, the author of STILETTO NETWORK:

Inside the Women's Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business.


Pamela Ryckman has written for The New York Times, Financial Times, Washington Post, Fortune.com/CNNMoney, and The New York Observer, among other publications.


  Register Today!


November 18, 2014 4:00-6:30 p.m.

 Kirkland and Ellis LLP 

200 E. Randolph St., Chicago 


Congratulations to the recipients of the 2014 Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers "50 Best Law Firms for Women" recognition.


Eight Coalition members were among the firms lauded for their family friendly policies, and business and career development initiatives that help women attorneys succeed and advance into the leadership pipeline.


Chapman & Cutler

Jenner & Block

Katten Muchin Rosenmann

Kirkland & Ellis

McDermott Will & Emery

Neal Gerber & Eisenberg

Schiff Hardin

Seyfarth Shaw


The survey found that 20% of lawyers at the winning firms use full-time flex-time work arrangements, compared to 15% of 2013's Best Law Firms, and the percentage of lawyers who work reduced hours grew to 10% from 9% last year.


The law firms are featured in the August/September issue of the magazine, and workingmother.com and flextimelawyers.com.  

Congratulations to Coalition Board President Margo Wolf O'Donnell , Shareholder, Vedder Price, on being named to the 2014 40 Under 40 Hall of Fame by Law Bulletin Publishing Company. 


Law Bulletin Publishing Company conducts an annual survey to determine who Illinois attorneys believe are the "up and comers" of law in Illinois.


Click here to learn more about 40 Under 40. 

Finances 202: A Playbook for Alternative Fee Arrangements, the second in the Finances Series, was held at Neal Gerber & Eisenberg on August 21st.  More than sixty attendees, representing both in-house and outside counsel, learned tips to strengthen their understanding and utilization of various AFAs.  


Special thanks to Emily Milman of Crate&Barrel, who served as moderator and to the panel of experts which included Audrey Rubin of AON, Linda Miller of GE, and outside counsel Shayna Cook, Lauren Loew, and Katherine Minarik, all of whom shared their vast experience and knowledge of various types of AFAs.   

StepUp Events




August 27:

Step Up Open House.

 Learn how to make the most of your membership and how Step Up members make an impact in the lives of teen girls. Bring friends to introduce to Step Up! 5:30-7:30pm.

Hosted by: Baker Tilly

205 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago

Details and registration  here.


September 10:

Power Breakfast with Barri Rafferty. 

 Add a little inspiration to your breakfast with a morning of intimate discussion with Barri Rafferty, senior partner and CEO, Ketchum North America. Sponsored by Ketchum.

Open to Icon+ members.


Brasserie by LM

800 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago 

Details and registration  here.


September 11: Information Session for Prospective Board Members.

Learn about involvement on Step Up Chicago's board of directors, and how the board drives sustainability in Chicago. 5:30-7:30pm.


1 S. Dearborn, Chicago.

Details and registration  here. 

Coalition Job Board 

If you have an in-house attorney position or non-attorney firm position that you would like to post, please email the information to chicago@thewomenscoalition.com with a cc to Megan Mathias at megan@loppmathiaslaw.com, and we will post it on the Coalition website job board.  The job board may be found in the member portion of the website. 

Quick Links
Letter from the Board President 


Dear Coalition Delegates:


It is very exciting to witness the energy of our group - the Coalition's board and membership has grown and enabled us to offer a large number and variety of programs.  Attorneys from member law firms and companies have attended more than 25 events this year.  Most of the Coalition events include CLE credit, and all of the Coalition programs offer strategies and networking to build and propel the careers of women in law.


The Coalition is planning 10 CLE and/or networking events between now and the end of 2014, including our annual event announcing the "Call to Action" results and the Coalition's Leadership Forum, featuring a keynote speaker and the recipients of this year's Coalition awards. You can sign up for many of these events here. 


The Coalition committees are now preparing for our new programming and membership year.  If you would like to get involved, either as a committee member or co-chair, please send an email to chicago@thewomenscoalition for more information, and/or plan to attend the Coalition's annual meeting on October 1.  Also, we still have seats open at the Coalition tables for the September 8 CBA luncheon featuring Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- please let us know if you can attend.


Warm regards,


Margo Wolf O'Donnell

Shareholder, Vedder Price

President, Coalition of Women's Initiatives in Law

A View From The Top Panel

September 17, 2014


This annual panel event is sponsored by the Coalition of Women's Initiatives in Law, as well as McGuireWoods and BMO Harris, and will feature c-level women in discussion about their career journeys.


5:00 - 7:30 p.m.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP
300 N. LaSalle, Chicago   Learn More and Register Here 


The Only National Forum Facilitating Women-to-Women Exchange on Current Legal Issues. The second annual Women, Influence & Power in Law Conference has a uniquely substantive focus, covering the topics that matter most to corporate counsel, outside counsel, and public sector attorneys. 

Click here for more information 

September 17 - 19, 2014

The Capital Hilton, Washington, DC 

Style and Success

Building a Wardrobe that Works at Work

What does your personal style say about you as a professional?  How do you build a lasting wardrobe yet keep up with changing trends? 
Please join us as EpsteinSchwartz Legal Search presents Judi McCarthy, Chicago Personal Stylist/Shopper.  Judi will address these concerns and others, as well as take your questions.  Judi works with professional men and women across various industries and has a keen understanding of how personal style can help shape your personal and professional image.  
Judi's presentation will be followed by cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and networking.
DATE: September 18, 2014         Register Now! 
TIME: 5:00 - 6:30 p.m.
HOSTED BY: Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
525 W. Monroe Street, Chicago
Presented by:

Book Club Event:

Striving to Thrive in the Legal Profession


Please join the Associates Committee of the Coalition for a discussion of Arianna Huffington's book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.  In Thrive, Huffington argues that we must redefine what it means to be successful in today's world.  According to Huffington, pursuit of the traditional metrics of success-money and power-has led to unhappiness, stress, and burn-out.  Huffington argues that we need a third metric for defining success, which includes well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. 


Three distinguished attorneys will lead a discussion of the book and its applicability to women in the legal profession.  Drawing on their varied background, the discussion leaders will talk about what it means to be successful in the legal field and how women can pursue a successful legal career in a manner that embraces the third metric.


NOTE: Attendees need not have read Huffington's book to participate and benefit from the the discussion. The Committee will circulate a list of key concepts and discussion topics in advance of the event for those who do not have time to read the book.

 October 2, 2014

6:00 - 7:30 PM

 Hosted by: McGuireWoods LLP

77 W. Wacker Drive, 44th Floor



The discussion leaders will include:

Jane Pigott, Managing Director, R3 Group LLC;  Susan Lichtenstein, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc; and Amy Manning, Managing Partner of the Chicago office, McGuireWoods LLP  

Women Working Together:

Using Data to Change the Future 

Chicago's Call to Action Event


October 28, 2014

4:00 to 5:30 p.m. - Reception to follow

Jenner & Block:  353 N. Clark Street, Chicago 


It is time again for the Coalition of Women's Initiatives in Law to announce the results of the Chicago Call to Action, which tracks the top ten Chicago-area firms in three categories: the percentage of women in partnership, the percentage of women in associate positions, and the percentage of women in the "other attorneys" category. 


This year we are pulling together a number of organizations that are providing essential benchmarking reports that track data on women's advancement towards leadership roles in the legal and corporate sectors.  Gloria Santona, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of McDonald's Corporation and the Chairwoman of The Chicago Network's Census for 2013, will describe the results of the Census, which tracks women in leadership roles in the top 50 public companies in the Chicago area, and how the data has changed over time.  The National Association of Women Lawyers' Immediate Past President Deborah Froling (Arent Fox), who is co-chair of NAWL's Survey Committee, will talk about NAWL's Survey on the Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms, including this year's results and the long view of the results after 8 surveys.  Jane Pigott (R3 Group) will present the Call to Action results and share some history of the project and key takeaways from the beginning of the initiative to date. 


After all three women have set forth some historical perspective and the current results from their surveys, Claudia Wolf (Deloitte) will moderate a discussion between the three leaders about how the three sets of data relate, how they can be used to make progress, and what we can all do to help women advance at a faster rate than that which has been shown through the history of the reports.


At the reception following the program, we'll celebrate the milestones of two groups of women working together: the 15th anniversary of the Women Everywhere: PARTNERS IN SERVICE PROJECT, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing volunteer services of the legal community to women and children in need; and the 100th anniversary of the Women's Bar Association of Illinois, an association bringing together women lawyers across the state to learn, network, and advocate for women in the legal profession.  It is a rare program that brings so many different local, state-wide, and national women's groups to the same table to work together and celebrate each other


Join us to learn from the collaboration and plan for a future working together to advance women in law.


Register to Attend


Application for Illinois CLE is pending.

Coalition Spotlight - Jennifer Rakstad


 Why did you enter - and leave - the practice of law?  

Like may people considering law school, I was looking at various options for my liberal arts degree, and law seemed like a good fit for my skills, strengths and interest in helping others.  I clerked for a district court judge right out of law school, which I loved, and then started in Mayer Brown's Litigation group.  I enjoyed my work as a litigator and had some great experiences.  As I got to be more senior,  I realized that my passion for helping others would be better met in a different role.  Mayer Brown allowed me to transition into my current position, where I work one-on-one and in group settings with our attorneys as a coach, helping my attorney clients get what they want out of their careers.  This has been the perfect fit for me - I get to use my knowledge and understanding of the law and my firm along with my coaching skills in a way that makes a difference in the lives of individual attorneys.   My role has also allowed me to support women attorneys (as a coach and part of our women's leadership committee), which is a priority for me.


Why did you get involved in the Coalition?  

I was the Co-Chair of the Chicago Women's Forum at Mayer Brown at the time the Coalition was founded, and as a result was part of the steering committee who started the Coalition.  Being part of the founding of the Coalition - and an active member ever since - has been a great fit for me and for Mayer Brown.  The networking and programming opportunities provided by the Coalition have grown exponentially over the years, and they provide phenomenal opportunities for our women attorneys across the city.  The Coalition has also allowed me to further develop a network of peers who are focused on similar issues in their law firms and companies.

What are your outside interests? 

This is a very timely question, as I'm in the process of trying
to cull my outside interests to a few key activities.  I have been an active volunteer in my children's activities and on a few charitable boards over the last few years.   At this point in my life I am trying to take a strategic approach to my free time, so I am being more deliberate in what I say "yes" to doing and letting go of some prior commitments.   In the fall I plan to continue as a Girl Scout leader for my daughter's troop and volunteer at my children's school.  I love to ride my bike along the lakefront and take spinning and yoga classes.  I am also a continuous learner, so I hope to dive into the stack of books on my bookshelf that I haven't made time to read over the last few years!

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with other women lawyers? 

Take control of your own career.  This may sound cliché, but what I see in my coaching practice is that lawyers who are focused and strategic about their careers give themselves the most options.  This doesn't mean you have to commit to a particular path, but you should always have a sense of where you are going and how to help yourself get there.  Having a set of supporters - in the workplace and in your personal life - is key.  These individuals can help you grow and see your "blind spots."  Being engaged and proactive about your career will make you someone that others want to mentor and invest in as well.


Jennifer Rakstad is the Career Development Advisor (US) at Mayer Brown LLP and Treasurer of the Coalition.  Jennifer is a certified coach who coaches and counsels attorneys in all U.S. offices of Mayer Brown individually and in groups on a wide variety of career and leadership topics.  Prior to transitioning into this role, Jennifer practiced in Mayer Brown's Chicago Litigation group.  Jennifer is part of Mayer Brown's firm-wide Women's Leadership Committee and was a founding member of the Chicago office Women's Forum.