Dare to be Different: Stereotypes of Power and Practice

The 2nd Annual Lara D. Gass Symposium will be on October 30, 2015. In the next few weeks, we will be providing blog posts by the organizers and speakers of the event!

This first post is by Deb Howe, the Symposium Chair for the Woman Law Students Organization:

Twelve professionals, three topics, fascinating questions, and hours of work! WLSO’s symposium has been in the works for many months, and it is almost here! When I began working on the symposium with WLSO’s Vice President of Education, Jess Winn, I had two main goals: schedule the symposium at a time when students’ schedules were open enough to allow them to attend (if there is every such a time in law school) and create intriguing topics and panels so that students, alumni, faculty, and members of the community would be excited to attend.

With those goals in mind, Jess and I began meeting after work during the summer to discuss our ideas and solicit suggestions from students and local practitioners. The result of those summer meetings is WLSO’s fall symposium: Dare to be Different: Stereotypes of Power and Practice, which will take place on the afternoon of Friday, October 30th.

The law is full of stereotypes. Hearing horror stories and watching the Paper Chase terrified us all as 1Ls going into our first cold call. Watching Suits excited others by leading them to anticipate five star restaurant meals, expensive charity events, and dramatic court room arguments. And the popular image of plush leather chairs, cigars, and scotch point towards a male-dominated career. Is this last stereotype accurate or merely a holdover from a previous era? Does it hold true in some practice areas but not in others? These are questions that I, as a woman entering the legal world, would like to be able to answer.

A collection of attorneys from all areas of practice will come together to discuss the stereotypes that surround women in the law. They will critique, confirm, and explain them, as well as advise us on how to defeat or utilize them.

WLSO’s previous symposiums set a high standard, and I am confident that this year will be no exception. We will delve into discussions that address contemporary issues our society as a whole faces, and that are especially prevalent in the legal world. I hope that you will join us!

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