CHARLESTON – A group of female lawyers at Bailey & Glasser LLP have organized the Women Lawyers’ Networking Group of West Virginia in an effort to fill a previously untapped need for networking in the state.
The group held a kickoff event Sept. 22 at Bailey & Glasser’s Charleston office.
Bailey & Glasser attorney Sandra H. Kinney said she heard of a similar group from one of the partners in the firm’s Boston office who said she enjoyed the interaction with other female attorneys and that she finds it helpful to her practice.
“I thought that Charleston would be a great place to start a similar group,” Kinney told The West Virginia Record. “I’ve practiced in West Virginia for over 20 years, and I know that there are a lot of accomplished women lawyers working here.”
Kinney said she brought the idea to some of her female colleagues this past summer, and she started talking about organizing a more formal group in the Charleston area to bring women lawyers together to build connections.
“We were surprised by the immediate, positive reaction to the idea and also thrilled,” Kinney said. “Our Facebook group went live on the afternoon of Sept. 8, 2016, and in 10 days, it’s grown to 493 members.”
Because of the instant popularity, Kinney said it looks like the group will be a statewide organization rather than just a Charleston-focused group.
“Our goal is to create an organization open to all women lawyers to share business development ideas, identify referral sources and establish mentoring relationships,” Kinney said.
Kinney said the number of female lawyers has increased over the years, but those attorneys don’t always have an opportunity to work with one another.
“We envision this group as a place where women can come together, share their experiences, both professional and personal, and foster professional development,” Kinney said.
Kinney said law is a still male-dominated profession. She said a May 2016 report from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession revealed that women comprise 36 percent of all lawyers. However, in private practice, women make up only 21.5 percent of all partners, and as of 2014, female lawyers earned 83 percent of what male lawyers earned.
“Our numbers are increasing, but one of the keys to success in the legal profession is business development,” Kinney said. “One of the goals of this group is to form professional and personal relationships that can lead to referrals and collaboration. These relationships will help the firms we work for and our clients as well.”
Bailey & Glasser attorney Maggie Burrus said in a news release that, by virtue of their small although ever-expanding, numbers in the legal field, “women attorneys may fail to benefit from the unique perspectives of their talented and successful female colleagues.”
“It is our hope that this group will bring together women in all stages of their careers to foster creativity, leadership, and success in the practice of law,” Burrus said.
The Women Lawyers’ Networking Group of West Virginia said interested lawyers can join the organization’s Facebook group to receive notifications about upcoming events.