Akerman’s Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) provides a system of advocacy, education, and support to advance women within Akerman, the legal profession, and the communities in which we live and work. The three core objectives of WIN are recruiting and retention, advancement and promotion, and business development, and we are committed to ensuring diversity and inclusivity in WIN endeavors. WIN maintains a presence in leadership through co-chairs Kasey Dunlap and LaKeisha Marsh, both members of the firm’s Board of Directors, and through an Executive Committee liaison working to ensure WIN has a voice at the highest level of firm leadership. WIN is also focused on improving the environment in which we work while contributing to the success of Akerman.
WIN implements structural support for women, including the establishment of formal mentoring relationships that drive professional advancement, the organization of professional development training and opportunities, the hosting of internal networking events, and the creation of educational programs that address issues affecting professional women.
Driving our efforts and accountability, Akerman is a signatory to the Mansfield Rule, a rigorous law firm certification program requiring the consideration of at least 30 percent women and minorities for all equity partner promotions, lateral partner searches, leadership roles within the firm, and business development opportunities and subsequent staffing. Every year since signing onto Mansfield, we have achieved certification. Because of our work, Working Mother named Akerman as one of the best law firms for women. Today, an unprecedented number of women now serve in practice leadership positions within Akerman, women made up more than 50 percent of our recent partner promotions, and our firmwide governing committees are substantially diverse.
Recent Programs and Ongoing Partnerships
We host and participate in a number of important initiatives focused on creating meaningful change for women in law, including:
Internal Programming: We offer four types of programming targeted to women at Akerman. Using an outside consultant, we host a professional development segment every other month. On alternate months, our senior partners provide business development training on a variety of subjects. We also target wellness by providing programming on mental well-being, financial strength, and health benefits using both in-house and outside consultants. Recently, we added a fellowship program for a cohort of female women income partners. The program is capped at twelve participants per year and is conducted by an outside consultant who provides programming and individual coaching. In addition to these very focused programming efforts, we also provide periodic programming targeted to families and children.
The Mansfield Rule: Akerman was a signatory to the inaugural 2016 Mansfield Rule requiring law firms to affirmatively consider qualified women and lawyers of color for significant leadership roles and responsibilities. As the program has evolved and expanded to include more rigorous metrics, Akerman has achieved certification annually. We are currently working on achieving the program’s latest requirements in Mansfield 2021.
Women in Law Hackathon: Akerman has participated in Diversity Lab’s series of think-tank focused programs on solving equality and inclusion problems in big law firms. Hosted in collaboration with Stanford Law School and Bloomberg Law, concepts originating from the competition evolve into initiatives deployed throughout the industry to address issues such as diversity and compensation. This bi-annual event began in 2016 and we plan to continue to participate in future programs.