ARK is going bigger and better for the 13th annual Women Legal conference. Previously a one-day event, the extra day provides additional time and space for exciting changes. Conference chairperson, Patricia Gillette, public keynote speaker and member of JAMS, shares with ARK what attendees can expect.
Gillette has a long-standing history with the ARK program, serving as the Women Legal conference chairperson for several years. The conference has continued to evolve over the years and remains on the cutting-edge of issues women face in the legal industry.
This year brings exciting change, says Gillette. “What’s most exciting to me is having the opportunity to spread the conference over two days, and to give people the opportunity to actually have more interactive experiences than we have in the past because we have more time.”
During the two days, professionals who are Marketing and Business Development Directors, partners, associates, heads of Human Resources, Professional Development and Recruitment Professionals, and Diversity and Inclusion Managers will address gender diversity and equality in the legal profession.
The 13th annual Women Legal conference will take place Feb. 25 and 26 at Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego, a new location from previous years. Keep reading for Gillette’s top three can’t-miss pay-offs to attending this year’s conference:
1. Professional development you can implement right away
Each year, the conference is developed and tailored around attendee feedback and trends in the industry, to ensure content remains current and focuses on what participants would benefit from most, says Gillette. “We don’t design the conference based on what we think the people need. We design the conference based on the feedback we get from our conference attendees and thought leaders.”
Gillette will lead a hands-on workshop on day two that focuses on developing and practicing skills that fit individual styles for business development. Some of the other sessions include a keynote presentation about the connection between diversity and transformation, continuous improvement, and innovation work; a highly interactive conversation around developing a growth mindset, both in organizations and individuals; and a panel discussion about how women lawyers can forecast their own futures. The conference provides practical, tangible takeaways that can be immediately implemented following the two-day event, Gillette explains.
“This is not pie in the sky. This is something you walk out, and you’ve got things you can do tomorrow that are going to change or enhance the way you move your career forward,” she says.
2. Lasting contacts and connections
The two days provide double the networking opportunities for attendees. Over the last decade, the Women Legal conference has created a strong community of attendees who travel from around the country to further their careers, says Gillette. Many returning attendees reunite and continue strengthening connections and relationships they established at the conference years ago, she says.
There’s a great blend between returning participants and first-time attendees, so networking is a significant highlight for everyone involved, says Gillette. “They will develop contacts and connections that will really help them as they move forward in their careers, either as additional friendships or professional relationships that may assist them as they think about what they’re going to do with their careers.”
Participants will have more than seven hours of scheduled networking opportunities over the course of the two-day conference. The networking sessions will take place throughout breakfast and lunch, in-between breakout sessions, and will include an evening cocktail reception.
3. Time with leading experts in the legal industry
More time also means more speakers, and Gillette is especially excited about the speaker line-up this year. Speakers from leading firms in the country, many that Gillette has worked with personally, will talk about their innovative women’s initiatives and the best practices that help their firms advance women in the workplace, she says. They’ll also share very targeted, practical advice for career advancement, how to enhance existing skillsets within yourself, and life lessons for moving your career forward. “It gives the opportunity to hear what the best and the brightest thought leaders are thinking about with respects to the future of the legal industry,” she says.
Gillette is confident the professional development, networking opportunities, and speaker engagement will equip attendees with everything they need to further their careers. “When you put those three things together, I think the people who attend the conference will leave with an advanced knowledge over most of their counterparts in their firms about what they can do to help themselves, as well as our industry, move the needle on women in law.”