Kirkland’s Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI) promotes the recruitment, retention and advancement of women attorneys at the Firm and aims to develop them into leaders within their practice groups, the Firm, the legal profession and the community. WLI sponsored more than 80 programs across the globe in 2014, including networking events, discussions, informational lunches and training sessions. A Firmwide WLI Planning Committee pairs senior women and rising associate leaders to shape the future of the Firm’s women’s initiatives.
In September 2014, Kirkland held the Firm’s inaugural Women Partners’ Retreat. The event, hosted by WLI, took place in the Chicago office. The retreat was facilitated by founder and president of Flex-Time Lawyers, Deborah Epstein Henry, and included networking with members of the Global Management Executive Committee, planning on retention and promotion of women attorneys, and discussions of proposed strategies with a group of Kirkland committee chairs.
Since 2005, in further support of the area of work/life balance for parents and families, Kirkland has been offering its nationally-recognized Parenting Link initiative. Through a substantial distribution list and series of speakers and events, Parenting Link responds to questions, resource needs and issues raised by both male and female parents at Kirkland and their spouses. Topics range from the ins-and-outs of getting your children in preschool/grade school to understanding children's social and behavioral changes. Parenting Link provides information concerning parenting in a concise manner while offering a secondary benefit of enhancing and building relationships among parents at the Firm.
"Through our WLI workshops and programs we provide focused and useful
strategies and tips to help our women attorneys navigate the unique challenges
and opportunities for women practicing law."
— Elizabeth Deeley, San Francisco Litigation Partner
Women’s Mentorship Programs
WLI has a formal mentoring program called "Mentoring Circles" focused on small groups of female senior partners, midlevel associates and junior associates that span practice areas. Each "Circle" is headed by a female partner, and female associates are assigned to a group while working at the Firm as summer associates. The program allows women at various stages in their careers to mentor each other and to develop relationships with their female colleagues.
The Women in Law School program is a year-long initiative aimed at increasing the Firm's on-campus diversity outreach by fostering mentoring and networking opportunities for rising women attorneys that support the development of women in the legal field. This initiative is designed to encourage in-person interaction between Kirkland women attorneys and University of Chicago and Northwestern women law students facilitated through informal lunches and coffee, career panels and evening receptions. In the 2014–2015 academic year, approximately 150 female students attended programs hosted by the Firm.
Through Kirkland's "ALLSA" initiative, female attorneys in several of the Firm's other U.S. offices partner with female and diverse law student associations at key campuses around the country. The ALLSA initiative is designed to encourage a sense of community among diverse attorneys and law students, increase the visibility of Kirkland’s diverse attorneys on law school campuses, create mentoring relationships with diverse students and open unique conduits for professional development. At the core of ALLSA are over 70 Kirkland liaisons who have formed relationships with 67 diverse law student groups.