January 02, 2018

Retired Land of Lincoln executive director to keynote ‘Women in Leadership’ dinner

by Pete Rosenbery

Lois WoodLois Wood, the recently retired executive director of the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc., is the keynote speaker at the SIU School of Law Women in Leadership Networking Dinner at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The dinner is the final event for a two-day Women in Leadership Workshop that prepares about  35 female and male law students to be leaders while they also learn about the challenges that women face within the legal profession due to real and perceived gender differences.

The workshop runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday, Jan. 11-12, in the Hiram H. Lesar Law Building. The workshop culminates with a dinner featuring Wood at 6 p.m., Jan. 12, in Student Center Ballrooms.


Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the workshops and the dinner featuring Lois Wood, retired executive director of the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. For more information or to arrange interviews contact Diane Regan, the law school’s interim director of communication and alumni outreach, at 618/453-8768.


The two-day workshop is specifically for students but the dinner is open to the public. The dinner cost is $25 a plate and the registration deadline is Friday, Jan. 5. Visit www.law.siu.edu/academics/center-programs/women-in-leadership-program.html for registration information and additional details on the workshop.

43 years with Land of Lincoln

Prior to becoming executive director at Land of Lincoln, Wood was managing attorney in the organization’s East St. Louis office and a staff attorney. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 1974.

Wood represented low-income clients with housing and issues in state and federal individual cases and class actions and collaborated with community groups on community and civil rights issues. She also represented financially distressed farmers as part of the Illinois Family Farm Law Project and was president of the Board of the Farmers’ Legal Action Group from 2005 – 2013.

Workshop focus is on leadership

The workshop’s primary focus is on women in leadership, but includes all types of diversity – including gender, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and people with disabilities, said Cindy Buys, law professor and workshop co-creator.

Workshop topics include diverse methods of communication, opportunities to develop professional leadership skills, gender issues in the workplace, networking, and balancing career and family issues.

The workshop allows female students who are interested in attending law school know that SIU School of Law has programming designed to address issues they will face, Buys said.

Women in the legal profession

Although women have been attending law school in equal numbers to men for the last couple of decades, women still have a long way to go to achieve equity in the legal profession, Buys said. In 2017, women made up 22.7 percent of partners in law firms and only 20 percent of equity partners, according to the New York Times,.  Women comprise 45.49 percent of associates at private firms and 34.54 percent of all lawyers are women.

According to the National Jurist, 30 percent of the law school deans are women and 33 percent of state and federal judges are women, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Three of the nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are women.

Recognizing female leaders in the legal profession

The workshop is recognizing female leaders in the legal profession and those who support them with inaugural awards. Former First Circuit Judge Kimberly H. Dahlen is receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award; Kelly Giraudo, an SIU alumna and partner at Butler, Giraudo and Meister in Pekin is receiving the Trailblazer Award, and the Carbondale law office of Sandberg, Phoenix and Von Gontard, headed by partner Kathy Pine, is receiving the Organizational Award.