Our Work

The Birnbaum Women's Leadership Network (BWLN) builds on NYU Law’s long history at the forefront of women’s entry into the law. With a keen focus on leadership, the BWLN champions gender justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the legal profession via training, research, cutting-edge conversations, and strategic partnerships.

Developing Leaders

Through a selective fellowship and innovative leadership training programs, the Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network strives to foster an environment that nurtures and supports gender equity in law school and at all levels of the legal profession. The Women’s Leadership Fellows Program (WLFP) is a selective co-curricular program that provides training in effective communication, self-awareness and resilience, seeking and receiving feedback, and professional development, among other key leadership skills.

Advancing Gender Justice

NYU Law admitted women long before most other law schools, graduating its first female graduates in 1892—less than 20 years after the Supreme Court upheld an Illinois law barring women from practicing law and 25 years before women got the right to vote in New York. This historical commitment to gender equity in the law has seeded the profession with NYU Law-educated attorneys, who have shattered glass ceilings. There has been great progress in women’s representation in the law in recent decades. But there remains significant work to do. The BWLN is committed to ensuring that this Law School remains a leader in supporting gender equity in the law. To this end, the BWLN is engaged in the following initiatives:   

Supporting Success

The BWLN is committed to identifying obstacles to women’s success in the legal profession, including by analyzing women’s performance relative to male peers; examining how cultural attitudes manifest in differing standards for men and women in the workplace; and gathering insights from all levels of the profession to advance gender equity. The BWLN also awards the Abby Lyn Gillette Fellowship to one student per year spending their summer focused on promoting or improving women’s rights.

Convening Cutting-Edge Conversations

Recognizing that gender parity in the legal profession is inextricably linked with broader gender justice efforts at all levels of society, the BWLN hosts regular events highlighting key issues from reproductive justice to workplace equity.

Engaging Strategic Partners

The challenges to equitable leadership in the law are too big to be solved by any individual entity—or even any one industry. To make meaningful progress, the BWLN works with a cross-sector network of leaders in and outside of the legal industry to problem-solve, innovate, and experiment—all with a common goal of improving gender equity and retention of women lawyers across the profession. Through collaboration, transparency, and accountability, the BWLN and our partners aim to pinpoint and break through some of the thorniest and most intractable obstacles to gender equity in the leadership of the legal profession.

The BWLN also collaborates with other centers and student groups at NYU, including the Women of Color Collective and Law Women. These groups operate independently, maintaining their own active events calendar and resources for the NYU Law community, and act as key partners to the BWLN supporting gender equity at the Law School and beyond.

  • Law Women exists to promote the success of women in the legal field and to advocate for women’s rights at NYU and beyond. They work toward this mission by providing peer counseling, leading advocacy efforts, and facilitating networking events. They also organize events devoted to community service, building a community across the law school, and supporting the mental and emotional health of students. They strive to create programming that promotes equity in the legal community by empowering women from all backgrounds with the community support and resources they need to achieve academic and professional success. Read “Law Women provides opportunities for students to pursue professional and advocacy interests” from the NYU Law website.
  • The Women of Color Collective (WoCC) was created to provide a space for women of color students at NYU Law to connect and support one another. The organization accomplishes this through networking opportunities, educational panels, and collective initiatives. WoCC advances the needs of women of color and enriches the Law School as a whole. WoCC provides mentorship by facilitating monthly meetings for group discussion of critical issues and/or social events to promote interaction and mentorship between women of color at the Law School; education, by planning events open to the Law School on current topics relevant to the experience of women of color—specific either to the legal community or to women of color generally; and activism, by working with other student groups on various initiatives including, but not limited to: increasing faculty of color recruitment and student of color admissions, incorporating critical perspectives into class discussions, and expanding course offerings.