Women’s Leadership Development Initiative

August 7, 2012

The Arent Fox Women’s Leadership Development Initiative strives to facilitate mentoring and training programs that contribute to the retention of our women lawyers; to ensure that women continue to serve and be represented on firmwide committees, with the ultimate goal of advancing even more of them into leadership roles; and to create networking opportunities for our lawyers and their counterparts in the business world.

A Best Law Firm for Women

In 2011, Arent Fox LLP was named one of The 50 Best Law Firms for Women 2011 by the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) and Flex-Time Lawyers LLC, a national consulting firm advising attorneys and legal employers on work/life balance. The 2011 honor was the latest recognition garnered by the firm for its commitment to promoting the role of women in the legal profession. In 2008 and 2009, Flex-Time Lawyers LLC, in conjunction with Working Mother magazine, named Arent Fox one of their Best Law Firms for Women. Our firm was recognized as one of only 50 law firms in the nation that, according to Working Mother and Flex-Times Lawyers, "understand that when the market improves, the war for talent will return and they will be better positioned to recruit and retain the best and brightest.” For further information, see our press release dated September 14, 2011. To read the 2009 and 2008 Working Mother articles, please click here and here.

Afghan Women Lawyers Training Conference

Working with the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan, Arent Fox has supported the advancement of Afghan women in the legal profession. Since the Partnership was launched in 2007, the firm has initiated or engaged in several programs to train Afghan prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges. Many Arent Fox attorneys have participated in the program, including Robert C. O’Brien (Managing Partner, California, and past co-chair of the Partnership), Mary Carter Andrues, Jennifer Terry, Terree Bowers, Stephen Larson, and Pierre-Richard Prosper. In 2009, the firm joined the State Department in hosting prominent Afghan women attorneys and law-enforcement officials for an intensive two-week training program in the United States.

The 14 participating jurists explored topics including mediation, domestic violence, family and mental health, and narcotics law, while gaining insights into the American judicial system. They met with high-ranking government officials, among them Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and retired Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Sandra Day O'Connor.

The Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan is a joint initiative launched in December 2007 by the US State Department and America’s legal community to assist in the development of the rule of law in Afghanistan. The partnership allows law firms to demonstrate their commitment to improving the justice system in Afghanistan by funding projects that promote women’s rights, access to justice, legal aid, professional development, and other important justice-related activities.

Women in Leadership

Approximately 36 percent of Arent Fox attorneys are women and 24 percent of partners are women, exceeding the national average of 19 percent. 48 percent of attorneys promoted to partner over the past 6 years have been women. Women lawyers at Arent Fox serve as practice group leaders as well as on numerous firmwide committees – and several are the lawyers responsible for a number of our largest clients.

We are proud to be able to say, too, that our women lawyers are committed to and recognized by the legal and business communities outside Arent Fox. In August 2010, Arent Fox’s Marylee Jenkins, a partner in the firm’s intellectual property law practice, assumed the office of Chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Intellectual Property Law, the largest intellectual property organization in the world and the oldest substantive Section of the American Bar Association (ABA). Also in 2010, Arent Fox LLP's Linda Baumann, a partner in the national health care practice at Arent Fox LLP, became Chair of the American Bar Association’s Health Law Section, an active and influential ABA section with more than 8,500 members. The prior year, in June 2009, Bernice Leber completed her term as president of the 75,000-member New York State Bar Association, the nation’s largest voluntary state bar.

Since 2005, firm partner Pamela Deese has served as Vice Chair of the ABA Section of Science and Technology, Committee on Technical Standardization and Infrastructure and serves on the editorial board of the Licensing Journal. Maidie Oliveau, counsel in the firm's Los Angeles office, serves Vice Chair of the Sports Division of the ABA’s Forum Committee on the Entertainment and Sports Industries and sits on the editorial board of the ABA’s Entertainment and Sports Lawyer. Deborah Froling serves on the executive board of the National Association of Women Lawyers. Leah Eisenberg is an executive officer of the Women’s Division of the New York Institute of Credit. Arent Fox’s Mary Carter Andrues, a partner in the firm’s white collar and investigations practice, has assumed the office of President of the Federal Bar Association’s (FBA) Los Angeles Chapter.

Community Commitment

In addition to supporting our lawyers, Arent Fox is committed to the advancement of women outside the firm. Among other organizations, we support the National Women’s Law Center and the Women’s Bar Association. Moreover, we were a lead sponsor of the Washington Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business program – which honors the most influential business women in the Washington, DC, region – from 2004 to 2008.

Representative Client Work

Miller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins. June 7, 2008, Arent Fox LLP won a historic ruling from the Supreme Court of Virginia in a nationally watched custody battle testing whether states like Virginia that bar legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships, will enforce judgments and judicial orders from states like Vermont, which do recognize same-sex unions. Click here for press release and background information.

Love v. Johanns. Arent Fox has teamed with the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and others to represent women farmers who were denied farm loans and loan servicing by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) based on their gender. The discrimination lawsuit Love v. Johanns, Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, Case No. 1:00CV02502 (D.D.C.) was filed on October 19, 2000, by a number of women farmers who are seeking to have the class certified as a class action on behalf of women farmers and prospective women farmers nationwide who were discriminatorily denied farm loans or loan servicing by the USDA from 1981 to December 1996 and from October 19, 1998, to the present.

At present, the plaintiffs are awaiting a decision from the DC Circuit on their appeal of the district court's denial of class certification. The women farmers seek damages and injunctive relief as a result of the department's actions. Seven lawyers and two legal assistants work on this case. See Womenfarmers.com for more information regarding the case.

Georgetown University International Women's Human Rights Clinic. In conjunction with this clinic run by Georgetown University, an Arent Fox associate traveled to Uganda in 2004 to supervise a team of law students on a human rights fact-finding mission on the frequency of the practice of female genital cutting. The students then drafted a human rights report with critical feedback from the Arent Fox associate, which will be used by local advocates to lobby for the passage of legislation banning the practice.

Contact Us

For more information about our Women’s Leadership Development Initiative, please feel free to contact the co-chairs:

Barbara Wahl
Deborah Froling

To download the PDF version of the Women’s Development Leadership Initiative brochure, please click on the link to the right.