January 08, 2013

Media Advisory -- ‘Women in Leadership’

The Southern Illinois University School of Law will host a program this week that focuses on preparing law students to be leaders while also learning about challenges that women face as leaders within the legal profession.

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the fourth “Women in Leadership Program,” Thursday and Friday, Jan. 10-11, in the Hiram H. Lesar Law Building at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  The workshop runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.  The workshop culminates with a dinner at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 11, that features Fifth District Appellate Court Judge Melissa Chapman as the keynote speaker.  The media is also welcome to attend the keynote speech at 17th Street Bar and Grill, 214 N. 17th St., Murphysboro.

About 30 current SIU School of Law students, including some male students, will participate in the workshop with topics that include gender and communication, negotiation, interviewing, networking, gender issues in the workplace, developing a personal-professional brand, and balancing career and family, and running for political office.  The program features law school faculty, other faculty on campus, alumni, local attorneys and judges participating in lectures, small group discussions, group exercises and panel discussions.   First Circuit judges Kimberly Dahlen and Carolyn Smoot and statewide political party leaders Barb Brown and Terri Bryant are among the featured speakers.

Law school professors Cindy Galway Buys and Alice M. Noble-Allgire created the “Women in Leadership” program in 2010 to address gender inequities they see within the legal profession. 

Buys notes that recent law school graduates who participated in all three prior workshops utilized the skills learned in helping secure their current jobs.  Angela Rollins is working as a clerk for Judge J. Phil Gilbert, a federal judge for the Southern District of Illinois, and Natalie T. Lorenz recently became an associate with the Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd., in Edwardsville.

The program has helped empower more than 100 male and female students “by helping them develop a handful of essential leadership skills as well as the knowledge of how gender differences can affect their work,” Noble-Allgire said.

Women hold approximately 15 percent of equity partnerships in the nation’s top law firms, comprise 21 percent of the nation’s law school deans, 20 percent of corporate general counsel, 22 percent of federal judges and 26 percent of state court judges, according to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. 

In Southern Illinois, there are 11 female circuit and associate judges among 63 judges within the First, Second, and 20th judicial circuits, which cover 26 counties, according to the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts website.

Chapman, a member of the Fifth District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon since 2001, is one of two women on the seven-member panel. She will discuss equal pay, which Noble-Allgire said is an economic issue that continues to resonate with women.  Several recent studies show that women, on average, still earn only 82 percent of what their male peers earn.  There are conflicting explanations and theories for why the gender pay gap persists, Noble-Allgire said.

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Alicia Ruiz, the law school’s director of communication and outreach, at 618/453-8700.