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Jenner & Block was one of 54 leading US law firms that participated in the 2016 inaugural Women in Law Hackathon, a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition aimed at generating innovative ideas to close the gender gap in law firms. Partner Reid J. Schar, co-chair of the firm’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice, served as Jenner & Block’s representative to the program. The initiative was sponsored by Stanford Law School, Diversity Lab and Bloomberg Law.
Nine Hackathon teams – each comprising six law firm partners from across the United States, two talent/diversity thought leaders and a Stanford law student – began working together in January, meeting virtually, twice a month, to devise initiatives to retain and advance experienced women lawyers in law firms. On June 24, 2016, the teams presented their ideas to a panel of high-profile judges.
Team 9 – Jenner & Block’s team – took home the first place prize for its proposal of a gender neutral compensation model titled SMART (Solutions to Measure, Advance and Reward Talent) that incorporates each firm’s values and culture, taking into account, in addition to billable hours and business generation, activities related to what women in law firms tend to spend more time on – advancing diversity, committee work, training, pro bono, etc. A SMART App and Dashboard to help track progress towards goals, developed as part of the proposal, was previewed during the Hackathon.
Bloomberg Law provided prize money for the top three teams to donate to their nonprofit of choice that advances women in the legal profession. The SMART team donated its $10,000 first place prize to Ms. JD, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the success ofaspiring and early career women lawyers.