Thinking of Becoming a Non-Profit Lawyer?

If you are a graduate of Georgetown University or its law school or other graduate schools and thinking of becoming a non-profit lawyer, here are two things to help you.  First of all, Chapter 12 of Best Friends at the Bar:  The New Balance for Today’s Woman Lawyer includes important information about non-profit law and a profile of Bonnie Brier, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of New York University.  Bonnie’s remarkable career will inspire you to follow the non-profit career path.

Second, tune into a webinar next week that is being offered by Georgetown University to its alumni on the subject of starting and growing a non-profit.  As a law graduate of Georgetown University, I also will be featured in the webinar series this fall on the subject of the special challenges to women in the law.  Stay tuned to my blog to find out more as that program approaches.

The quality of these programs is very high, and, even though next week’s webinar is not specific to non-profit lawyers, it will provide valuable information on non-profits in general.  After participating in the webinar, you can read my book for more specifics about non-profit law practice.

The webinar titled “Leadership Lessons from Nepal to D.C.: How to Start and Grow a Non-Profit?” will be aired on Monday, June 23 at 12:30-1:30 EDT.  It will chronicle the founding of the non-profit Women LEAD in Nepal, and the information from the Georgetown University Alumni Career Services promotional materials describes it as follows:

When Claire Naylor (F’11) and Claire Charamnac (F’11) launched Women LEAD, a leadership development organization for young women in Nepal, this was the question they encountered most frequently. In three years, they have built an organization that has empowered more than 600 young women to become leaders in their schools, communities and nation. Charamnac , United States executive director, has focused on growing Women LEAD through fundraising, communications and outreach. Naylor, Nepal executive director, has built Women LEAD on the ground, leading everything from program and partnerships development to operations, finance and governance in the midst of political instability, worsening infrastructure and 12-hour power cuts.

The webinar will share the co-founders’ leadership lessons learned from building a nonprofit, specifically:

  • Challenges in building a board;
  • Working cross-culturally;
  • Fundraising; and
  • Marketing and communications for a start-up nonprofit.

Not only will you learn a lot about starting a non-profit, but you also will learn a lot about a non-profit focused on developing women leaders.  This is definitely a two-fer!

For more information on the Georgetown University webinar series, visit the Alumni Services web site where you can register for upcoming webinars.


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Thought For The Day

True humility is being able to accept criticisms as graciously as we accept compliments.

Sabrina Newby

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More About that Pesky Student Loan Debt for Lawyers

This week has been disappointing for any of us who are hoping that Congress will do something to relieve the debt crisis for all student loan borrowers, including, of course, young lawyers.  As reported by Above the Law earlier this week, between 2008 and 2012, the median debt burden for recent law school graduates increased by 54 percent, from $83,000 to $128,000.  By comparison, student debt for medical students increased only 22 percent during that same time period.  I guess the presumption is that lawyers are going to make so much more money over time than doctors that we just should be satisfied with this incredible escalation.  Right!  Yes, the medical profession has its challenges today, but so does the law profession.  Who is asleep at the switch when it comes to controlling the costs of legal educations?  Yes, the law schools and the ABA, but there does not seem to be much happening there.

Enter Senator Elizabeth Warren (D -Mass), who has sponsored a bill to allow student loan borrowers to borrow at a reduced rate on federal loans and also to refinance at that same rate.  It seems like a good idea, right?  Encouraging education by helping with debt reduction — like motherhood and apple pie.  Well, not so fast.  The additional cost of the program would be paid for with a tax increase for the wealthiest Americans, and that is the bugaboo.  The Republican filibuster in the Senate killed the bill on Wednesday, and at least one member of Congress, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, recited Dr. Seuss to entertain his fellow senators and keep the filibuster alive.  Nice.

In the face of this defeat, Senator Warren told the Boston Globe:  “Does this country protect millionaires’ and billionaires’ tax loopholes?  Or does it try to help young people who are just starting their economic lives?”  Good question.  But, that is a values issue that I will let you ponder.

So, what’s next?  According to the Huffington Post, the Democrats are not finished pushing the bill.  They are rolling it into their wider appeal to aid women because women are more likely to accrue debt but earn less than men to be able to repay it in a comparable time frame, thus paying larger amounts of interest.  Nice nexus, to be sure.  In fact, I wrote to Senator Warren several weeks ago and suggested something very similar to her.  Just saying …

However, there may be more than one way to skin this cat … wild cat that it has become.  Check out the Above The Law coverage “Law School Debt:  An Infographic” to read about a private bank initiative that may be helpful to the cause.  This is not an attempt to endorse any one bank or loan relief package, and I am sure that there are others out there with similar appeal.  Check them out!  It will definitely be worth your time — and your money!

And don’t give up the ship.  Strange things happen in politics and government.  Witness the shocker in my home state of Virginia this week when unknown college professor Dave Brat defeated the number two House of Representatives member, Eric Cantor, in the Republican primary.

The sands can shift very swiftly!


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Thought For The Day

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.

Anne Lamott

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Thought For The Day

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

Maya Angelou

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Following the Lead and Putting Women Attorneys in Charge

A recent effort by business leader Sallie Krawcheck epitomizes putting your money where your mouth is.  The bigger the mouth, the better the take, so Krawcheck has enlisted the help of top female leadership at companies like PepsiCo and Lockheed Martin, companies which have demonstrated a commitment to women in positions of leadership and management.

Here’s the deal.  Sallie Krawcheck, former an executive with Citi, Bank of America and Smith Barney, has moved on to investing financially in companies that put women at the top.  She is partnering with the investment firm Pax World Management to launch an index fund, which will invest in companies with high percentages of women in management and on governing boards.  Although the research has shown for years that diversity in management leads to better performance over time, this is the first time that the theory has been tested by investing in the top 400 companies in the world, all part of the Pax Global Women’s Leadership Index, in terms of commitment to women as corporate leaders.  For more information on the venture, see the June 8, 2014 Washington Post article.

As further evidence of her dedication to women, last year Krawcheck purchased 85 Broads, a professional women’s network, and is repackaging it as the Ellevate Network.  The problem that Krawcheck is addressing in both of these endeavors is that, on average, women make up about 20 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies and just 14.6 percent of executive officer positions, according to the research firm Catalyst.  These figures do not square with a recent report from Credit Suisse based on a survey of 2,360 companies.  The survey results showed that companies with women directors out-performed those without female board members on a variety of financial and earnings criteria.

So, isn’t it about time that law firms got the message?  It is hard to argue with those statistics, and also hard to argue that they would not apply in the law firm setting, where fewer than 20% of women are partners.  There is a demonstrated benefit to having strong female representation in the leadership suite, and it even has been showed that diverse teams outperform more capable teams in terms of skills.

Onward and upward.  If you are looking for a good investment for your deep pockets Aunt Maude or Uncle Charlie, be sure to aim them in the direction of the Pax Global Women’s Leadership Index.  Is it a sure winner?  Who knows?  That remains to be seen.  But, think about the fact that the global public-based financial aid made available to households in developing countries often is pledged specifically to the women of the households.  Those women are motivated to improve the lives of their families, and they will move Heaven and Earth to do it.  They are hard workers, capable of multi-tasking, tough taskmasters, and they are goal-oriented.  They appreciate a minority opinion, and they know how to compromise.  If governments and government collaborations around the world can see that, so can the leadership of law firms.

We can only hope … and pray!

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Thought For The Day

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.

Hannah More, Writer

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Thought For The Day

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Viktor Frankl

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