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A Women’s Initiative that Moves the Needle

Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney

Like many law firms, litigation firm Segal McCambridge struggled with the retention and elevation of female attorneys throughout its nine offices. Although nearly 50% of new hires consisted of women each year, the firm rated below the ABA averages in female associates, partners and equity partners.

Recognizing the importance of firm diversity and inclusivity at all levels, the firm engaged Builden to bring to life a women’s initiative that would encourage the retention of female attorneys and systematically improve the pipeline of female partners.

With that in mind, Builden partnered with the firm to create Forward Together, a three-pronged program combining education, mentorship and networking to better serve the women of the firm.

Builden also assisted in creating a roster of quarterly events to:

  1. Increase the presence and retention of female attorneys in each office
  2. Improve elevation opportunities for female attorneys
  3. Identify strong female candidates for partnership

Forward Together pairs a female associate with a female partner mentor and offers regular opportunities to connect and learn from one another and outside experts. The initiative also hosts guest speakers for events made available to all attorneys and staff, regardless of gender or title.

Despite its mid-pandemic launch in August 2020, Forward Together’s mentorship and event participation far exceeded the firm’s expectations.

After a successful first-year pilot, Segal McCambridge built upon the Forward Together programming and expanded it to include two Associate Liaisons under Builden’s recommendation. The liaisons now continue Forward Together’s mission by creating supplemental curriculum supported by the associate perspective.

Two years in, Forward Together has become a powerful recruiting and retention tool for Segal McCambridge, demonstrated by an increase in its female associate ranks by 37%, its female partner ranks by 57% and its equity partner ranks by 68%.

Jill Felkins, managing shareholder of the firm’s Chicago office, recently shared with AALM about the value of the program and the improvements Forward Together had brought to the firm.