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Ask the Women of White and Williams

We asked women partners to share significant moments in their careers and advice for young women lawyers.  

Who Are Your Mentors And How Do Those Relationships Help Shape Your Career?

Lori Smith, Chair, Business Department

I had many mentors who helped shape my career at different stages along the way – and not all of them were practicing lawyers. Some were great at helping me hone my technical skills, others were helpful in teaching me the business of law, managing client relationships and understanding the other practical skills needed to succeed, and a third category helped me in navigating through the various work/life conflicts that are inevitable regardless of whether you are at a big or small law firm, in-house position or follow a different path. I think that those who succeed in law don’t necessarily rely on a single mentor or have one person who is their guide along the way, but rather are able to develop a strong support network.  

Elizabeth Venditta, Chair, Life, Health, Disability and ERISA

Fond memories abound from my earlier years at White and Williams from long discussions with Virginia (“Ginny”) Barton Wallace, our first woman partner. Living not far, my husband and I for several years collected Ginny from her Assisted Living Facility at Crosslands in Kennett Square to transport her to the White and Williams’ “Proms.” Ginny filled those rides from start to end, to and fro, with anecdotes and stories from her many years at White and Williams. She recounted how law was practiced in those earlier days, her long daily commutes to the city with Judge Hannum from Kennett Square/Unionville, the peccadilloes of the attorneys she worked for/with, and her struggles as a young woman lawyer trying to establish a practice. She clearly, passionately loved this firm and all its attorneys. She never failed to express how she felt so specially connected with all the women attorneys, always asking how each was doing, following their careers, etc. Ginny would have been overwhelmed to learn that the women lawyers at White and Williams after her passing established the Virginia Barton Wallace Award and that one of the many distinguished awardees over the years was none other than Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2013 (whose professional life story was so amazingly similar to her own!).

Read more from our women lawyers about their careers and advice for young women.

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