The Women in Business Law Initiative at the UC Berkeley School of Law is designed to address the many challenges to gender equity in law and business. Since its inception in 2016, the Women in Business Law Initiative has offered best-in-class career development, mentorship, and networking programs to help female students and professionals excel both in their lives and their careers. Through meetings, conferences, forums, and tailored programs—such as our established mentorship program—we connect female students to a rich network of other successful women at law firms, in industry, and government.
We seek to address the large gender gaps present in the corporate world. As of May 2018, only 4.8% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were women; even though more women than men are currently graduating from college and university. The percentage from 2017 dropped by 25% in 2018, with only 24 female CEO roles in the Fortune 500 companies. Although companies with higher levels of diversity, including gender equity, in executive leadership show higher valuations, greater return on investment and total return on sales, issues around equity and inclusion continue to persist.
Our mission is to help address the issue of gender equity in the workplace on a concrete and individual scale. As a law school, we play a crucial role in facilitating students’ transition from the sphere of academia to the professional world. To bridge these worlds, the Women in Business Law Initiative designed a formal mentorship program for our female J.D. and LL.M. The mentorship program begins during the students’ first year at UC Berkeley School of Law. By supporting our students early on in their careers, we hope to contribute to a more equal and inclusive workforce.
The Women in Business Law Mentorship Program is a collaboration between the Berkeley Center for Law and Business (BCLB), the Women of Berkeley Law Association, Women of Color Collective, and the Berkeley Business Law Journal. The program matches first-year law students interested in business law with female associates from BCLB partner firms and organizations.
The program provides attorneys the opportunity to cultivate relationships with some of the brightest law students the country has to offer — women who can be expected to advance to positions of influence throughout the worlds of business and law. The relationships and trust they establish can then help them flourish in their own careers.
How the Program Works
We accept applications from interested first-year J.D. and LL.M. candidates, female attorneys from partner law firms, as well as from business and government. Attorneys and students are matched based on their interests and geographic locations.
We facilitate the mentorship by organizing an annual mixer in late January, followed by two additional networking events. The participants are encouraged to meet periodically — we recommend a commitment of 2-4 hours every month.
Our students benefit from the advice of attorneys who have just completed the transition from student to professional, and the attorneys that mentor them gain a valuable contact in their mentee. We believe that this relationship has the power to help both students and attorneys achieve their goals.
“I benefited from this mentorship from amazing women a few steps ahead of me, and I want to be a resource for women coming up after me. It makes a world of a difference to see women, especially women of color, a few steps ahead in an industry that is still male-dominated.”
Janice Dow ’17, Attorney at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
“The Women in Business Law Initiative sets UC Berkeley apart from other schools by offering direct matching of female students with working professionals for mentorship, support and an insider’s view.”
Maureen A. Young ’90, Senior Regulatory Counsel, Bank of the West
Women in Business Law Initiative Quarterly Roundtable
In collaboration with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Kirkland & Ellis, and the State Bar of California.
Addressing Recruiting and Integration | June 7, 2019 | San Francisco, CA
Addressing Development and Retention | September 13, 2019 | San Francisco, CA
Addressing Advancement and Promotion | December 6, 2019 | San Francisco, CA
The Worldwide #MeToo Movement | May 14 | Berkeley, CA
Discussion points include efforts to increase female diversity in technology, on corporate boards, and legislative bodies.
Mentorship Fall Mixer | September 17 | San Francisco, CA
Addressing Gender Bias in the Legal Profession | October 5 | Berkeley, CA
A conversation exploring the role of gender discrimination law and preexisting gender
bias within legal private practice.
We Are Getting Noticed!
The launch of our Women in Business Law Quarterly Roundtable Series was spotlighted in The Recorder featuring an interview with University of California President, Janet Napolitano on Berkeley Law News and LinkedIn! To view the panel discussion, click here.
Our Women in Business Law Mentorship Program was recently featured in the Bank of the West newsletter! Visit to read more: http://gowe.st/2p544
Delia Violante | Program Director | firstname.lastname@example.org