In 2009, in response to a report by Catalyst, Inc. on the challenges facing women of color and the need for institutional change to respond to those challenges, PDLG presented a seminar designed for women lawyers of color – especially younger lawyers. The seminar focused on what could be done now, by individuals, to improve the situation and respond to challenges without waiting for firms to make fundamental changes.
The Catalyst Report enumerated the types of impediments perceived or experienced by women lawyers of color and then made suggestions of actions law firms could and should take to respond to the identified issues. It recommended many constructive institutional changes to firm management and structure which, while valuable, would require substantial investment in cultural change and would not happen overnight.
Nonetheless while such changes are clearly needed, there are women of color who met the challenges and succeeded as Philadelphia lawyers. At this PDLG program, a panel of these successful women lawyers of color, chaired by Charisse Lillie, discussed whether they faced the challenges cited by Catalyst and, if so, how they met them or worked around them. These women gave practical advice and by their accomplishments were role models for associates and counsel in law firms and younger women in law departments.