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Women’s Leadership Network Helps Alumni and Students Embrace the Post-Pandemic Workplace

12/13/2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the workplace. Nationally, law students entering the workforce face novel difficulties in an uncertain job market, exacerbated by threats to their physical, mental, and financial health. Likewise, mid-career professionals find their progression buffeted by unpredictable outside forces, including company and industry disruptions.

To help the Brooklyn Law School community rethink career opportunities in this new landscape, the Alumni Association’s Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) hosted the virtual discussion Shaping & Re-Shaping Your Career in a Pandemic World. At the event, cosponsored by the Law School’s chapter of the Legal Association for Women, alumni panelists shared affirmative ways to embrace transitions brought on by the pandemic to successfully navigate professional networks, thrive in a remote work environment, and prepare for changes in legal practice to ensure successful and resilient careers.

Panelists for the event included Daryn A. Grossman ’93, managing partner at Proskauer Rose; Kevin Hellmann ’95, director, training and professionalism, at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office; Jessica Hodkinson ’99, general counsel at US Panasonic; and Hon. Jennifer P. Wilson ’01, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania and WLN member. The event was moderated by Andrea N. Anderson ’04, head of corporate real estate legal at WeWork and WLN member. The program was introduced by Dean Michael T. Cahill and Debbie Epstein Henry ’94, chair of the WLN and founder of DEH Consulting, Speaking, Writing.

The panelists discussed the flexibility created by remote work, with both its pros (the ability to work remotely and unshackle a job search from geographic restrictions) and cons (the difficulty in building connections with peers and potential mentors). All implored the audience to embrace these changes by looking for opportunities in unfamiliar places and being purposeful in their efforts to connect.

“A 15-minute Zoom call over coffee is a great way to get to know someone and can sometimes be way more effective than sitting at a cocktail hour trying to make small talk,” said Hodkinson. “It’s much more intimate and you can get to know somebody much better.”

The panelists also encouraged audience members to look at the disruption of the normal workplace as an opportunity to make bold contributions and make their mark.

“In a business context, the Zoom meeting can be a great equalizer because everyone is the same size and can speak,” said Grossman. “I’ve seen junior colleagues blossom and participate meaningfully.”

Since its launch in 2017, the Women’s Leadership Network has provided stimulating programming to help alumni navigate their careers. In November 2020, it hosted the virtual discussion How Inspiring Leaders Emerge in Challenging Times.

“Leadership is right there in the name, so it should come as no surprise that that is exactly what [the Women’s Leadership Network has] provided for the last several years,” said Dean Cahill in his welcoming remarks. “I am truly grateful to them for everything they have done to maintain the strength of our alumni engagement and relationships, even during this very difficult time.”

Watch the event