Highlights from WILEF’s 2018 Annual Meeting

Sep 11, 2018, By WILEF

WILEF held its 2018 annual meeting at the New York offices of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius on September 6.  WILEF leadership and board members from around the country, as well as London and Paris, participated.  Among the highlights:

Mike Schmidtberger, Laurie Kleiman, Betiayn Tursi, and Carter Phillips

The inaugural WILEF Above and Beyond Award was presented to Sidley Austin LLP. WILEF’s Global Chair, Betiayn Tursi, who presented the award said:  “From the beginning, Sidley was there hosting WILEF events.  The firm has actually hosted more events across the country and in London than any other firm.  I want to recognize Laurie Kleiman, WILEF Board Member (who is with us today) and Pam Martinson and Liz McCloy (who could not be with us) for their commitment to WILEF.  I also want to take this opportunity to thank Carter Phillips, Chair Emeritus and Mike Schmidtberger, Chair (who are here today) for their steadfast commitment to WILEF.  This year the firm doubled their monetary commitment to WILEF and I know that a decision like that comes from the top.”

Leadership announcements. Naomi Waltman became the Deputy Global Chair for In-House Counsel.  Michael Lackey (who was not present) became the Deputy Global Chair for Gold Standard Certification. Melinda Wallman (who dialed in) became the Deputy Global Chair for International. In addition Charlene (Chuck) Shimada became the Co-Vice Chair of WILEF Northern California and two former associate members of the WILEF East Young Lawyers Committee, Adriana Lofaro Wirtz, a partner at Cooley, and Samantha Katze, Counsel at Manatt, are now co-chairing the Committee.

The announcement of Donnelley Financial Solutions Grant to the WILEF Young Lawyers Committee. Betiayn Tursi said:  “This Grant will further our mission through our Young Lawyers Committees, dedicated to the promotion and retention of young women in the largest law firms and corporate law departments.”

Patricia Russo


Hala Abdallah (left) and Alexis Gurganious

The Women’s Campaign School at Yale. The WCS has one mission: to increase the number and influence of women in elected and appointed office in the United States and around the globe. The WCS is a nonpartisan, issue-neutral political campaign-training program.  There was a presentation by the two WILEF Scholarship Recipients: Alexis Gurganious and Hala Abdallah. Following their presentations, Patricia Russo, Executive Director of WCS at Yale, gave a rousing presentation on having a pipeline of women candidates.

Betiayn Tursi

WILEF Pay Parity Project. In 2019 the Women in Law Empowerment Forum Forum LLC (WILEF) will launch the WILEF Pay Parity Project for the purpose of “leveling the playing field” for women in law firms within the WILEF demographic (law firms of 300 or more practicing attorneys). The goal of this project is a simple one—to create an environment of equal opportunity in terms of compensation for the women in law firms that WILEF serves. This Project dovetails with WILEF’s signature initiative– the WILEF Gold Standard.