Women in eDiscovery Should Explore These Five Empowering Organizations.
Our recent sponsorship of Woodruff Sawyer’s Women GC Community inspired us to dig a little deeper and spotlight five of the most influential organizations empowering women in eDiscovery today. Women unfortunately may still hold the minority in both the legal and technology industries, but we’ve noticed a trend among the superstars within that minority: an ever-increasing expertise and leadership in the eDiscovery industry, where law and technology intersect.
Electronic discovery has transformed the legal industry, and expertise in this area is a huge plus for women looking to make their mark or increase their marketability at all levels. eDiscovery streamlines the most grueling aspects of litigation through identifying, collecting, and producing electronically stored information (ESI) for production in a lawsuit or investigation. Indeed, one of the most important decisions a law firm makes is whether to handle eDiscovery in-house or to hire an end-to-end eDiscovery company.
The eDiscovery industry is an ever-growing and ever-changing one, and the demand for new talent is growing just as quickly. To bolster your opportunities in the legal field, we encourage you to learn more about eDiscovery and consider becoming a certified eDiscovery specialist. As a starting point, here are five organizations by and for women whose support systems and resources we think are worthy of a shoutout and much more.
1. Women In eDiscovery
Women in eDiscovery (WiE) was founded in 2007 and is growing rapidly, with 31 chapters throughout the United States. Members are women from many areas of the legal field, including attorneys, paralegals, litigation support professionals, legal IT staffers, consultants, and vendors. WiE’s mission is to provide education, resources, and networking opportunities to women working in the burgeoning eDiscovery industry. By keeping members on the cutting edge of new developments, WiE helps women become increasingly valuable to their firms and companies.
2. Relativity’s Stellar Women Podcasts
Relativity, a prominent legal technology company, sponsors a series of podcasts about women movers and shakers in eDiscovery and other business-oriented technology fields. The goal of Stellar Women is to provide a platform for emerging leaders, build a community of allies, and promote gender equity. Sonia Chowdhury, Gina O’Neill, and Betty Nguyen are but a few of the many prominent leaders providing advice for women breaking into the eDiscovery field or looking to advance to its highest levels. Prefer reading to listening? Check out their blog coverage of the podcasts as well.
3. Attract Retain Advance (ARA)
Attract Retain Advance (ARA) began as an idea cooked up by three women IT professionals at their quarterly dinner in Chicago to discuss trends and advice for women working in IT. Enthusiasm grew quickly and it wasn’t long before they founded ARA with the mission of helping women in IT learn about new technology and advance their careers. In addition to the original Chicago chapter, now there are chapters in New York, Seattle, Houston, Stamford CT, Dallas, and Silicon Valley. Lack of mentorship has been cited as one of the major impediments to women’s success in STEM fields, and ARA’s mission is to provide women with the support they need to advance in the technology industry.
4. National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF)
The National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) is a selective membership organization for preeminent minority and women-owned law firms, with a mission of forming long-term partnerships between these firms. The organization recognizes that efforts by corporations and public entities to diversify through employment at traditional law firms have not succeeded. Thus, NAMWOLF focuses instead on encouraging these entities to hire women and minority-owned law firms. This approach gives member firms control over their destiny while positioning them to gain a larger share of the legal services market.
5. Women and Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF)
Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF) was founded in 2005 with a mission to support women employed at the largest law firms and corporate law departments in the United States, London, and Paris. The goal of the organization is to give women at these powerful organizations the tools they need to “lead by example as change agents” by fostering a strong sense of empowerment. One of WILEF’s powerful tools is a rating system by which they recognize a company’s progress in promoting women to high ranks and rewarding them with the WILEF stamp of approval. To receive this “Gold Standard” rating, a company must meet both of the following criteria:
- 25% of equity partners are women or, alternatively, 40% of attorneys becoming equity partners during the past twelve months are women; and
- 10% of women equity partners are women of color or 4% of women equity partners are LGBT.
Additionally, companies must meet at least two of the following five criteria:
- 20% of the firm’s U.S. branch office heads are women;
- 25% of the firm’s primary governance committee are women;
- 25% of the firm’s compensation committee or its equivalent are women; and
- 20% of the top half of the firm’s equity partners in terms of compensation are women.
WILEF is optimistic that this type of competition at the top of the industry will propel more women into positions of power where they command salaries that are on par with men.
Education, Excellence, Equality
The above organizations are a mere sampling of women in the legal industry continuing a long tradition of banding together to push toward excellence and equality. Education is one of our most powerful and highly treasured tools here at BIA. We invite you to empower yourself, your teams, and your careers by furthering your knowledge and expertise in the field of eDiscovery.
BIA has been here from the beginning—before the “e” got added to “discovery.” We know the law and the technology. We have a Women in eDiscovery chapter officer on our team. In addition to turning an eye toward the five organizations empowering women in eDiscovery discussed here, we urge you to reach out to our experts and to take advantage of the many educational resources we update frequently—blogs, articles, case studies, downloadable templates, webinar resources (complete with recordings and transcripts), a glossary, and more.