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Associates Attend Women of Color Leadership Conference

Tags: Diversity

Private equity associate Nia Oates attended the Women of Color Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., with support from the Joan D. Fuller professional development grant for women attorneys at the firm. In this Q&A, she discusses her experience at and key takeaways from the conference.

The trip was sponsored by Ropes & Gray’s Women’s Forum, which offers a wealth of educational, professional development and networking opportunities. The Joan D. Fuller Development Grant is just one of the programs led by the Women’s Forum to help women attorneys cultivate relationships with colleagues, clients and prospective clients. The Women’s Forum also organizes events at which clients and guest speakers are invited to address a number of key career topics, including networking, marketing, mentoring, leadership training and business development. In addition, the Women’s Forum hosts formal and informal social events to provide women lawyers with the opportunity to build relationships and develop the essential skills for a successful legal career.

Former associate Tanisha Edwards and associate Nia Oates

Describe the Women of Color Leadership Conference. 

Nia Oates: The Leadership Institute for Women of Color Attorneys was a three-day conference in Washington, D.C. held from March 27 to March 29. The event brings together women of color attorneys for the opportunity to network and attend panels and programs on a variety of topics. The program is designed to help them gain the skills necessary to excel in the legal field.

Why did you want to attend?

Tanisha Edwards: As we transition into mid-level associates, training and networking opportunities have become increasingly important. The conference attendees came from a wide range of backgrounds, flying in from across the country and working in many different law firms, companies and government agencies. The conference offered us the opportunity to expand our networks and to hear from other women of color attorneys about their experiences, choices and opportunities to advance their career.

Who attended the conference? 

NO: The conference was attended by attorneys from all levels of experience. There were many partners, senior associates and mid-level associates from major law firms. There were many in-house lawyers, too. For example, Pilar Ramos, the General Counsel, North America for Mastercard spoke at the opening event and attended the Conference, along with other members of Mastercard’s legal team. Legal counsel from Amazon, Deloitte, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, eBay and Northup Grumman were also in attendance.

What were the main take-aways for you? How will the lessons learned help you in your career?

TE: One of my main takeaways was the importance of having high emotional intelligence in the workplace. Having self-awareness and managing emotions will help build healthy relationships and comfortability talking with clients.

NO: One of my main takeaways was the importance of building a strong professional reputation. Opportunities like this conference can serve as the gateways to building your confidence and presence.

How did the firm support your trip?

NO: Tanisha Edwards and I applied for and received the Joan D. Fuller professional development grant for women attorneys at the firm, which assisted us with covering the cost of the conference and our travel expenses. We also were able to work out of the firm’s Washington, D.C. office and meet with partners and associates there. Initiatives like the Joan D. Fuller grant greatly help associates by providing resources that help strengthen our network and sharpen our skills as lawyers.

Learn more about women attorneys at Ropes & Gray.

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