Contributed by E. Lynn Grayson
March is designated as Women’s History Month and highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. The celebration traces its roots back to 1911 when the first International Women’s Day was held on March 8 and continues to be celebrated on that day each year. Congress passed Public Law 100-9 in 1987 designating March as Women’s History Month and each year the president issues a declaration recognizing this special month long celebration.
The National Women’s History Alliance selects and publishes the yearly theme—the 2019 theme is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence.” The theme honors women who have led efforts to end war, violence and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society. This year’s theme is the perfect one for women lawyers to come together and celebrate our collective efforts to fight against domestic violence, respond to gun violence in our communities and to ensure the rule of law is alive and well in a justice system accessible to all.
While we look forward to celebrating the progress of women lawyers during Women’s History Month, we fully appreciate the ongoing challenges we face in succeeding in today’s legal profession. The 2018 survey completed by the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) provides some sobering statistics on the advancement of women lawyers. In 2006, the NAWL survey found the percentage of women equity partners to be 15%. In 2018, the same survey found the percentage of women equity partners had increased to 20%. At that rate of progress, it will take until at least 2078 for women to make up 50% of the equity partners. The 2018 survey also found that 47% of associates and 30% of nonequity partners were women so there is a pipeline of talent but these successful women lawyers are not reaching the highest tiers of law firm management and leadership.
Attend The Chicago Bar Association’s Working Women’s Legal Summit on March 8 to learn more about the current state of women in the legal profession but more important, gain insights on how to advance in your career and how best to manage the challenges faced by women lawyers. We invite you to join us too for the Women’s History Month Luncheon: Celebrating the Progress of Women on March 8 featuring Jane DiRenzo Pigott, Managing Director of R3 Group LLC, presenting “The Pay Gap Explained: Why It Exists, How We Close It.”
A number of important and interesting programs of particular interest to women lawyers will also be hosted by the CBA in March and more information is available at www.chicagobar.org/chicagobar/WHM.
Celebrate Women’s History Month with the CBA this year and join us on March 8 for the Working Women’s Legal Summit and the Women’s History Month Luncheon. Registration is available at www.chicagobar.org/chicagobar/WHM.
“When Women Support Each Other, Incredible Things Happen”
About the Author: E. Lynn Grayson
Recognized as one of the nation’s leading environmental lawyers, E. Lynn Grayson is a partner in the environmental law firm of Nijman Franzetti LLP. She is the immediate past chair of the Environmental and Workplace Health & Safety law practice at Jenner & Block LLP, where she served as lead environmental counsel in U.S. and international transactions and counseled corporate leadership on the management of material environmental risks and liabilities.
Ms. Grayson also advises clients on critical enforcement, regulatory and litigation matters, conducts environmental internal investigations and defends clients in criminal, whistleblower and qui tam actions. She has significant experience defending against natural resource damage claims and performing due diligence including water scarcity concerns.
Prior to her career at Jenner & Block, Ms. Grayson was the Chief Legal Counsel for the Illinois Emergency Services and Disaster Agency and the State Emergency Response Commission. She has also prosecuted federal and state environmental cases as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois.
Ms. Grayson has made significant contributions to promote diversity in the legal profession, including the advancement of women. She is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law Firms and a past chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s standing committee on Women and the Law, as well as the Chicago Bar Association’s Alliance for Women. She has received numerous awards and honors including the CBA’s Alta May Hulett Award, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois’ Women with Vision Award, the ISBA’s Diversity Leadership Award and the 2017 Best Lawyers’ Women of Influence Award.
Ms. Grayson earned her bachelor’s degree from Franklin College and her J.D. from Indiana University’s School of Law.