OnRamp Fellowship Participation Nearly Quadruples in First Year to Include 15 Top Law Firms 

11 Additional Law Firms Join the 4 Founding Firms to Offer More Than 50 One-Year, Paid Fellowships as Part of Novel “Returnship” Program for Women Lawyers

The OnRamp Fellowship is an innovative program launched in January 2014 to provide women lawyers re-entering the legal profession with an opportunity to update their skills and legal contacts through one-year, paid positions with top law firms. The program aims to replenish the talent pipeline in law firms with diverse, high-performing lawyers who have the potential and the desire to advance into leadership roles.

As part of the first pilot program, four major law firms – Baker Botts, Cooley, Hogan Lovells, and Sidley Austin LLP – hired nine women returning to the profession after an extended hiatus. Eleven additional law firms, listed below, have joined the effort as the second pilot kicks off today.

2014 OnRamp Fellowship Law Firms – Pilot Participants

(*Founding Supporters of the OnRamp Fellowship)

Akerman Crowell & Moring Jenner & Block
Baker Botts* Fenwick & West K&L Gates
Baker Donelson Fish & Richardson Sidley Austin LLP*
Blank Rome Fried Frank Orrick
Cooley* Hogan Lovells* White & Case

“We were excited to participate as a founding sponsor of this innovative program,” said Carter Phillips, chair of Sidley’s Executive Committee. “Having hired four Fellows in the inaugural program, we know first-hand the considerable value these women bring to the profession and to our firm. We look forward to hiring additional Fellows going forward.”

“The OnRamp Fellowship is a natural extension of our ongoing efforts to hire and retain diverse lawyers,” said Peter Kalis, Chairman and Global Managing Partner of K&L Gates. “We are thrilled to be one of the first firms participating in this unique initiative to bring talented women lawyers back into the profession.”

Together, the participating law firms have posted more than 50 Fellowship positions across the country in markets like Atlanta, Birmingham, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Silicon Valley. Opportunities exist in more than 15 practice areas, including antitrust, corporate, emerging companies, FDA regulatory, finance, intellectual property, labor and employment, litigation, real estate, securities, and tax.

Recruiting techniques proven effective for hiring and developing C-suite executives in corporations for decades are used to enhance the matching and placement process of women lawyer applicants with the participating law firms. The OnRamp Fellowship administrators conduct an organizational culture analysis and a study of high-performers at each law firm to better understand the skills, behaviors, and traits that lead to success. To ensure “fit” for both the firm and the lawyer, applicants then complete a three-hour screening process, which includes a personality and skills assessment, writing test, culture questionnaire, and behavioral interview.

Women lawyers who are selected to participate in the Fellowship are provided with a partner advisor at the firm, an external career counselor, unlimited online CLE through PLI, and a variety of training from experts in negotiations, oral advocacy, technology, and project management.

Due to the overwhelming interest in the Fellowship – as demonstrated by the 15,000 hits to the website, the 170 women who applied initially, and the 30 law firms that inquired about participating – we expanded the pilot program to include a select number of top firms,” said Caren Ulrich Stacy, Founder of the OnRamp Fellowship. “By participating in the first ‘Returnship’ ever launched in the legal field, these 15 law firms are trailblazers. They are benefitting the profession as well as their own firms by forging a new pathway back for women lawyers who took a break and want to return.”

“As a firm that is committed to the progression of women at all levels, Cooley is excited to see the momentum being generated by the Fellowship,” said Joe Conroy, Cooley’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are proud to have been one of the pioneering firms to support the Fellowship, and we wish it every success as the program expands into its second phase. This is a welcome and timely initiative for the profession.”

“Baker Botts is a proud founding supporter of the OnRamp Fellowship,” said Van Beckwith, Senior Partner and Recruitment Chair at Baker Botts. “Working to bring women lawyers back into the legal profession benefits our clients, the legal community, and is a priority for our firm,” added Mr. Beckwith.