Women’s History Month Roundtable: Jenny Waters, Executive Director

The Law Preview Lawyer Roundtable Series gives you a look into the minds of diverse lawyers from across the country. Get advice on everything from your 1L year to how to leverage a mentorship opportunity in law school, and throughout your legal career.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting three accomplished female lawyers in this month’s edition of the Law Preview Lawyer Roundtable Series. Check out the interview below!

Jenny Waters
National Association of Women Lawyers, Executive Director
Attended Northwestern University School of Law

Tell Us Little Bit About Yourself

I am the Executive Director of NAWL, a 120 year old organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advancing women lawyers in all types of practices. I manage the day-to-day operations of the organization, managing the budget, coordinating the work of volunteers on numerous committees, working with the officers and board of directors to implement the strategic plan, managing and developing staff, coordinating multiple publications, and monitoring issues and literature of interest to the membership.

In order to execute NAWL’s strategic plan, I work with a group of talented, passionate lawyer volunteers and staff members. We organize five signature in-person events each year, which incorporate continuing legal education, networking opportunities, charitable partnerships, and leadership development for thousands of members. The goal of each of these events is to give women lawyers the skills and the know-how to advance in the legal profession, provide them with a network of talented women to draw experience, wisdom, and business opportunities from, and provide credential-building opportunities for the speakers. We offer Practice Area Affinity Groups as well that allow women to network and share knowledge with others within their practice areas

I also edit NAWL’s quarterly journal, the Women Lawyers Journal (in print since 1911) as well as the seminal report on the state of women in the AmLaw 200. NAWL’s committees offer amicus support on issues of import to women and vet Supreme Court nominees.

In short, NAWL serves as a resource and a voice for women lawyers of every stripe. The profession has come a long way since NAWL was founded in 1899, but there is still so far to go.

Knowing what you know now about the legal profession, what advice would you give to students (particularly young women) who are about to begin their 1L year?

First, a career has a very long trajectory. Expect to learn things along the way that inform your next step. And expect a next step. Careers tend not to be linear so the path that you choose to take after graduation may not be the right match for you mid-career or late-career.

Second, the legal profession has a gender problem and a diversity problem. We know this and we assume that everyone knows this, but that is not always the case. Be prepared to highlight the issue of under-representation when you see it along with the reasons why it matters and be prepared to find majority allies that can tell that story with you. We are collectively making change, but it takes all of our voices to get to the finish line.

Third, the legal profession is a people profession and a customer service profession. Work on developing your style of making real human connections during law school, because those skills will matter just as much as your writing, skills, your analytical ability, and your recall of caselaw and statutes.

List one show you “binge-watched” during the past 12 months what was it about the show that so captivated your attention?

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — the lead character is supremely irreverent to the notions of what a 1950s housewife should be.

Name one song you listened to “on repeat” in the past 12 months and provide some insights about why couldn’t you get enough of it?

The Greatest Showman Soundtrack – Broadway meets Pop (and Broadway meets anything is pretty much a recipe for success in my book).

What was your social media “guilty pleasure” — who/what do you follow on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook that you find fascinating, and why?

Lin Manuel-Miranda (reference back to the Broadway meets anything comment above…) — he is overwhelmingly positive until he needs to fight for someone or something he believes in and then he gets feisty in an impactful way.

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