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ASU Law creates new programs, events highlighting women in law

'Into the Den' newest series launched to offer female students advice, career insights

Photo of ASU Law into the den

Colleen Gautam (top left), ASU Law 2008 grad and Valley of the Sun United Way general counsel and vice president of administration, leads the first “Into the Den” series for female students.

August 31, 2020

In ongoing efforts to advance women’s equality and ensure every woman’s voice is heard, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is creating dynamic programs and events as part of its “Future Fifty” women’s initiative launched earlier this year.

With ASU Law reaching more than 50 years of impact and as one of the few law schools named after a woman, the Future Fifty initiative was created to provide meaningful topics and discussions for female students, faculty and top women in law — encouraging further progress in the next 50 years. Following the launch of the popular Future Fifty Conversation Salon Series featuring female leaders and experts, the latest program is “Into the Den.” The new series, suggested by female law students, offers the opportunity to have engaging, small-group conversations with prominent women in law.

During one-hour, virtual sessions scheduled over lunch, Into the Den participants hear from ASU alumni and other women in the legal field to learn about how they’ve used their talent, skill and intellect to create highly successful careers in a professional landscape that presents unique challenges for women. 

Colleen Gautam, ASU Law 2008 grad, was the featured speaker in the first Into the Den discussion held Aug. 24 and attended by six ASU Law 1L, 2L and 3L students. Gautam talked about her early career as a litigator with Snell & Wilmer, one of Phoenix’s leading law firms, where Gautam gained the experience to become now general counsel and vice president of administration for the Valley of the Sun United Way.

Students asked Gautam for advice in areas including networking during COVID-19, what classes to focus on and whether it is still a man’s world in the legal profession. She encouraged them to take classes they’ll need if they have a very specific career path, but to remember to get the most out of their learning experience.

“I took classes where I was interested in the subject matter. You’re going to learn what you need to learn from the jobs you decide to pursue, and gain mentoring from upperclassmen along the way and do what you can to meet people in the profession you want to be in,” Gautam said. She added that she fortunately “never ran into the chance to not get ahead because I was female. Position yourself where you want to be and advocate for yourself and connect with the people who can help.”

Future Into the Den sessions, scheduled through December, will continue to bring together a small group of students and one legal professional, ensuring the conversation is casual, warm and meaningful. Topics will vary, thoughtfully curated by each host, so that participants have the opportunity to hear firsthand from women with varied backgrounds and points of view.

Other upcoming Future Fifty events include:

  • ABA President Patricia Lee Refo discusses the vital legal issues currently facing Arizona during one of the most tumultuous, but pivotal, periods in the state's, and our country's, history. Join "A Conversation with Patricia Refo" at 6 p.m. on Sept. 17. Register here.
  • The next Future Fifty Conversation Salon will focus on voter rights and feature Clinical Professor of Law Patricia Ferguson and Associate Professor of Law Josh Sellers at noon on Oct. 7. Listen to previous Future Fifty sessions with Professor Angela Banks discussing immigration and Professor Laura Coordes discussing bankruptcy and COVID-19.

You also can support these vital programs by making a donation today.

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