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E-discovery, long-distance swimming, and women in law

H5 congratulates the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL®) ( on their highly successful 8th Annual General Counsel Institute™ (GCI), held in New York City on November 8th and 9th.

Senior women in-house counsel gathered from across the country – many overcoming travel and other challenges resulting from “super storm” Sandy — to attend the event at the InterContinental Hotel in Times Square.

The theme of this year’s GCI was “Success Strategies: Defining Success and Adding Value as In-house Counsel in the 21st Century.” It got off to a great start with a dynamic plenary session in which general counsel from GE Capital, Americas; The Pampered Chef; Allstate Insurance Company; and The Home Depot U.S.A Inc. shared stories of their roads to success and how they overcame challenges along the way. The GCI also included CLE workshop sessions on what it takes to be a successful in-house counsel and the latest developments on current legal issues.

H5’s Executive Managing Director & General Counsel, Julia Brickell, participated in a  thought-provoking panel discussion with Jack M. Sena from Bank of America and Allison D. Charney of McGuireWoods LLP, entitled “Not Your Mother’s E-Discovery – How Recent Developments in Law and Technology Present New Promises and Challenges for Cost Savings and Risk Reduction.”

Other topics addressed included strategies to avoid the pitfalls of internal investigations; the increasing significance of compliance; cyber-security and data privacy; managing high profile litigation to avoid unwarranted media scrutiny; avoiding ethical dilemmas to protect the company’s reputation in the glare of the media spotlight; a review of the 2011 Supreme Court term and expectations for 2012, and recruiting and developing talent. The plenary session on day 2 was an illuminating and entertaining presentation by Colette Carlson on “Speak Your Truth” and how to master the art of effective self-promotion.

Highlighting this year’s event were the keynote addresses by Sheila Kearney Davidson, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel of New York Life Insurance Company, and by Diana Nyad, one of the world’s greatest long-distance swimmers.  Sheila Kearney Davidson gave an insightful and witty address on “Luck, Opportunity and the Willingness to Stretch Beyond Your Comfort Zone.”  Diana Nyad’s inspirational and touching story on “Breaking Barriers: Adventure and Achievement” left many attendees (including this writer) breathless and moved to tears.

NAWL is the leading national voluntary organization devoted to the interests of women lawyers and women’s rights.  Founded over 100 years ago, NAWL has members in all 50 states and engages in a variety of programs and activities to advance its mission.


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