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CHICAGO, April 15, 2016 – Jenner & Block is pleased to be one of 54 leading US law firms participating in the Women in Law Hackathon, a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition aimed at generating innovative ideas to close the gender gap in law firms. Since January, the participants have been working together, virtually, in teams that are devising initiatives to help retain and advance experienced women lawyers in law firms. Each team comprises six partners from across the United States, two talent/diversity thought leaders and a Stanford Law School student. The firm’s representative on the team is Partner Reid J. Schar, co-chair of the firm’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice.
“We are proud to participate in the Women in Law Hackathon,” Mr. Schar said. “We have a proven tradition of promoting and advancing women at Jenner & Block, and we are eager to collaborate and be part of thought leadership initiatives that further advance those goals within the firm and the legal profession at large.”
Jenner & Block has long championed efforts to close the gender gap within its own ranks. While women currently represent 18 percent of the partnership in large law firms across the United States, women represent 22.2 percent of the partnership at Jenner & Block. A report by the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance ranked the firm in the top 10 of 118 of the United States’ law firms surveyed regarding their promotion of women lawyers to partner in 2015. That year, the firm’s class of 13 new partners was 61.5 percent women; the 2016 class of 18 new partners was 44.4 percent women. Overall, in the past three years, 50 percent of the new partners have been women.
The firm also strives to place women in leadership positions. Jenner & Block was one of the first AmLaw 100 firms to have a female managing partner. Susan C. Levy served in that role from 2008 to 2014. Today, three women partners serve on the firm’s governing board, the Policy Committee. Among the women partners on the Policy Committee is Susan J. Kohlmann, who also serves as managing partner of the firm’s New York office and chairs the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
Jenner & Block also participates in the OnRamp Fellowship, the first re-entry program launched in the legal field for women returning to the workforce after an extended hiatus. That fellowship was founded by Caren Ulrich Stacy, chief executive officer of Diversity Lab and the creator of the Women in Law Hackathon.
“Jenner & Block is strongly devoted to promoting and advancing women, as part of its broader commitment to diversity within the firm,” Ms. Kohlmann said. “We have made great strides, but we hope to make many more through our participation in initiatives such as the Women in Law Hackathon.”
On June 24, 2016, the Hackathon teams will pitch their ideas to a group of high-profile judges at Stanford Law School. The top three teams selected by the judges will grant their prize money, donated by Bloomberg Law, to nonprofit organizations that are helping to advance women in the legal profession and beyond.
In conjunction with the Hackathon, Stanford Law School developed a policy course to research why the gender gap persists in the legal profession and propose possible solutions. Students enrolled in the course, supported by three faculty advisers, will author a white paper on the issue, which will be available to Hackathon participants prior to the June event.
“There has never been such a large collaborative effort where rival law firms join together to solve the gender parity issue,” Ulrich Stacy said. “Nor has a major law school previously created a class to examine and help solve the problem. There is an unprecedented concentration of brain power being applied to this issue through the Hackathon.”
Click here to learn more about the Hackathon.