Women’s Leadership Initiative


Katie McShane
+1 212 504 6670 

The Women’s Leadership Initiative (the “WLI”) strives to:

  • Enrich Cadwalader’s culture and competitive strengths by promoting diversity, inclusion and fair meritocracy for women within the firm.
  • Unlock the full potential of women practicing in the firm, invest in their professional development and acknowledge their contributions.
  • Advance women to top leadership and professional roles in the firm.
  • Encourage the mentoring, networking, recruiting, promotion, sponsorship, training and career planning of women attorneys.
  • Unite to help underrepresented women in need through signature pro bono projects.

The WLI has been recognized for its excellence and innovation, including the following:

  • Awarded a place on Yale Law Women’s 2015 Top Ten Family Friendly Firms List.
  • Shortlisted for the Chamber’s Women in Law Awards, USA 2015 for the Most Pioneering Gender Diversity Initiative.
  • Winner, Euromoney Legal Media Group’s inaugural Americas Women in Business Law Award for the Best Gender Diversity Initiative by an International Firm
  • Shortlisted in 2013 and 2014 as the Best Gender Diversity Initiative by an International Firm in connection with Euromoney Legal Media Group’s Americas Women in Business Law Awards.
  • The Legal Aid Society’s 2014 Award for Pro Bono Assistance, in recognition of the WLI Housing Clinic, an innovative collaboration between the WLI, Cadwalader’s Center for Community Service and The Legal Aid Society.
  • Difference Matters Magazine’s Top Corporate Allies for Diversity Awards 2014, recognizing the WLI’s focus on furthering the recruitment, retention and advancement of women at the firm and in the legal profession as a whole.

In addition, more than 20 of our women partners, counsel, special counsel and associates have been recognized recently by leading organizations and publications as leaders in their legal fields across the United States and the globe, including:

  • Chambers (USA and UK)
  • The Legal 500 (USA and UK)
  • Super Lawyers (NY, DC and London)
  • The Best Lawyers in America
  • IFLR 1000 (USA and UK)
  • Euromoney

Key initiatives and activities integral to the WLI’s mission, and its successes, include:

  • Firm Leadership Commitment – The firm’s leadership actively supports and is involved in all aspects of the WLI’s mission. The WLI is central among the many Cadwalader initiatives dedicated to meeting the firm’s goals on issues of diversity and inclusion and operates in close partnership with the Cadwalader Center for Diversity & Inclusion (the “CCDI”). 
  • Attorney Professional Development – The WLI offers an ongoing programs and opportunities designed to promote individual attorney development through training, thereby supporting career advancement. 
    • Professional Development Workshops: The WLI features speakers on topics such as business development, Cadwalader’s innovative sponsorship program, and fireside chats with female partners. Representatives of the WLI also have spoken at panel presentations at local bar associations focused on strategies for success as a female attorney. 
    • In-House Counsel Panel: The WLI recently hosted a panel discussion featuring female Cadwalader alumni who now have in-house counsel positions. These experienced corporate counsel addressed topics such as the selection process of outside counsel, their views on developing relationships with law firms, and ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs when using external counsel.
    • Demystifying the Partnership Track - The WLI has hosted a panel of women Cadwalader partners, that was moderated by Helen Wan, author of The Partner Track, a fictional story about a young Asian-American corporate associate at a New York law firm. The panel featured a frank discussion about women’s career experiences at the firm and the variety within women’s paths to partnership.
  • Client Engagement – The WLI hosts a wide array of professional networking and professional development events for firm clients and women attorneys, including custom-designed CLE programs presented by our women attorneys and various special events. 
    • For example, we have hosted client networking events, including a charity ride at SoulCycle with JP Morgan to benefit the Susan B. Komen Foundation and a shopping event at Saks Fifth Avenue with attorneys from Morgan Stanley focused on executive presence.
  • Work/Life Policy Reform – The WLI, along with the firm’s Taskforce for the Advancement of Women, is focused on ensuring that the attorneys who utilize the flexible work schedules and other work/life policies and benefits offered by the firm remain eligible for promotion to partner.
  • Pro Bono And Public Interest Endeavors – The WLI is dedicated to pro bono work and the sponsorship of non-profit organizations committed to helping women in need. These endeavors include the WLI’s Housing Clinic, which, in collaboration with the Cadwalader Center for Community Service and The Legal Aid Society, provides representation to women in connection with New York City Housing Authority administrative hearings. The WLI partners with a firm client, BNP Paribas, for these cases, providing an excellent opportunity for pro bono work and client networking. The Housing Clinic received an award for Innovative Pro Bono Assistance from The Legal Aid Society.

For more information about the WLI, or to request a custom CLE program by our women attorneys, contact Katie McShane at katie.mcshane@cwt.com.


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