Stephanie A. Scharf

Stephanie A. Scharf
Principal and Co-Founder

Stephanie Scharf is well known for innovative work in the areas of organizational excellence, diversity, equality and inclusion, strategic growth, talent development, and enterprise management. Her consulting work is enhanced by over 30 years of practice working with national and global corporations, as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, a partner at Jenner & Block and, most recently, founder of Scharf Banks Marmor LLC, a nationally prominent women-owned law firm.

Stephanie has a Ph.D. in Behavioral Sciences and a J.D. from the University of Chicago. She consults to businesses, not-for-profits and law firms on such topics as success in retaining and advancing professional talent, attributes of effective leadership, and strategies for growth and talent development. Stephanie has deep experience combining her skills in data analytics to design practical and measurable strategies for organizational change and achievable goals. She has published innovative research that uses data to track the impact of policies and practices on business goals, including strategies for effective leadership and for growth and talent development.

Stephanie has designed and co-authored many studies about the factors that impact long-term professional careers, including such nationally recognized research as Legal Careers of Parents and Child Caregivers (2023); Where Does the Legal Profession Go from Here? (2022) Practicing Law in the Pandemic and Moving Forward (2021) Walking Out the Door: the Fact, Figures and Future of Experienced Women Lawyers in Private Practice (2019); and First Chairs at Trial: More Women Need Seats at the Table (2015). Stephanie founded and conducted the NAWL Annual Survey of Women in Law Firms from 2006-2014; and conducted a range of other applied research on the strategies, career trajectories, and interaction between organizations and their employees.

Stephanie has held many leadership positions in national organizations. She was 2017-2020 Chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession and also co-chaired the ABA Presidential Initiative on Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in the Law. Stephanie is a former President of the National Association of Women Lawyers, where she created the highly regarded NAWL General Counsel Institute as well as a series of NAWL national surveys. Stephanie also served as Special Advisor to the American Bar Association’s Presidential Commission on Diversity and Inclusion; and served on the Board of DirectWomen, where she continues to chair its International Committee.

Stephanie’s recent publications include:

Stephanie’s recent speeches and seminars include:

  • “Parenting and Legal Careers: What Do We know and What Are Next Steps?” Fordham University Women, October 13, 2023.
  • “Gender in the Legal Profession: Where Do We Stand and What’s Next?” 2023 Federal Practice Institute hosted by U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, Concord, NH, September 29, 2023.
  • “The Impact of Parenting on Legal Careers,” SCG Legal Annual Conference, September 21, 2023, New Orleans.
  • “Women, Motherhood and Careers in the Law,” ABA TIPS Women’s Affinity Group, August 21, 2023.
  • “Is There a Penalty? Parenthood and Child Caregiving and its Impact on Gender Equality in the Legal Profession,” ABA Annual Meeting, August 5, 2023.
  • Chair, DirectWomen International Conference for Women Lawyers, “Unlocking the Secrets of International Board Opportunities”, June 29, 2023, London.
  • “Taking Charge of Your Career,” Workshop presentation to Women’s Forum, PLAC, April 26, Chicago.
  • “The Power of Partnering,” Toyota, February 28, 2023.
  • “Female Leadership in the Legal Profession,” Keynote Speaker, Northwestern Law Women’s Leadership Coalition (WLC), February 3, 2022.
  • “The New She/Cession,” Berkeley Research Group (BRG), November 17, 2021.
  • “The $250,000 Difference: What Does Gender Have to Do With It?,” Illinois State Bar Association, November 12, 2021.
  • “Practicing in the Pandemic: What We’re Learned and Strategies as We Move Forward,” Westlaw, November 4, 2021.
  • “A Discussion on Self-Advocacy,” LawLine DEI Summit 2, October 25, 2021.
  • “Post-Pandemic Workplace: The Challenges Faced by Women,” Illinois State Bar Association, October 22, 2021.
  • “Women in Law,” Career Development Workshop, Defense Research Institute, October 13, 2021. Boston.
  • “Practice Forward for Law Students,” University of Miami, October 7, 2021.
  • “A Presentation on the Impact of the Pandemic on Women Globally, in the United States, and in the Legal Industry,” Kutak Rock LLP, October 6, 2021.
  • “Covid-19 and the Impact of Diversity and Inclusion in the Practice of Law, September 30, 2021.
  • “Women in Employment Law,” NAWL webinar, September 28, 2021.
  • Preventing Burnout and Stress,” AHN, September 28, 2021.
  • “Women of Color in the Law,” Practicising Law Institute (PLI)/ – Women Lawyers Leadership 2021. September 23, 2021.
  • “Mothers in the Law: Confronting the Challenges and Celebrating the Victories,” American Bar Association Commission on Women, September 22, 2021.
  • “Tips for Making the Transition Back to the Office Less Stressful,” SCG Legal, August 4, 2021.
  • “Motherhood and Caregiving Bias in the Legal Profession: Dismantling the Systemic Barriers to Entry,” ABA Commission on Women, July 28, 2021.
  • “Chancellor’s Forum COVID-19’s Impact on the Legal Profession,” Philadelphia Bar Association, June 14, 2021, Webinar.
  • Co-Chair, ABA World Forum for Women in the Law: “Women, Power and Disrupting the Status Quo,” Jan. 27-29, 2021.
  • “Fireside Chat on Legal Practice: What Will Change and What Will Be the Same,” SCG Legal (For the Americas), December 9, 2020. Webinar.
  • “Fireside Chat on Legal Practice: What Will Change and What Will Be the Same,” SCG Legal (For Europe), December 1, 2020. Webinar.
  • “A Conversation for Women Law and Their Firms Foundation for Success Now and Moving Forward,” SCG Legal, November 18, 2020. Webinar, with Roberta D. Liebenberg and Lisa A. Borsook.
  • “The New Normal of Global Corporate Board Membership,” Webcast, DirectWomen, November 17, 2020.
  • “Report on the Progress of Women in the Law” NAWL General Counsel Institute, Webcast, November 12, 2020.
  • “Women in the Law: What New Research Tells Us About Achieving Meaningful Gender Diversity, November 10, 2020. With Roberta D. Liebenberg and Pauletta Brown.
  • “Alliance for Women Speaking Initiative,” Chicago Bar Association, Webinar, October 27, 2020.
  • “The Pandemic and Women in the Law Planning for Success as We Move Forward,” Richards, Layton & Finger, P.A., October 22, 2020. Webinar, with Roberta D. Liebenberg and Pauletta Brown.
  • “The Pandemic’s Outsize Impact on Women: Keeping Your Career On Track During Unprecedented Times,” The Catholic University of America, October 7, 2020. Webinar, with Roberta D. Liebenberg and Paulette Brown.
  • “The Pandemic’s Outsize Impact on Women: Keeping Your Career On Track During Unprecedented Times,” Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel, October 6, 2020. Webinar, with Roberta D. Liebenberg and Paulette Brown.
  • “The Pandemic’s Outsize Impact on Women: Keeping Your Career On Track During Unprecedented Times,” National Association of Women Lawyers, September 30, 2020. Webinar, with Roberta D. Liebenberg.
  • “Current Status of Women in the Legal Profession,” 2nd Circuit Conference on Women in the Law, New York, NY, September 25, 2020. Webinar.
  • “Where Are We Now and Where Do We Go from Here?” NCWBA, Chicago, IL, July 31, 2020. Webinar, with Roberta D. Liebenberg.
  • “How to Maintain Inclusivity for Law Firms in a Remote Environment,” LawLine, New York, NY, July 17, 2020, with Roberta Liebenberg and Paulette Brown.
  • “Making a Short Story Longer: Strategies for Building Legal Careers for Women,” Webcast, American Law Institute, June 18, 2020.
  • “Study Women and the Business of Law,” New Jersey State Bar Association, New Jersey, May 15, 2020. Webcast.
  • “Law Firm Gender Gap,” ALM, Webcast, Chicago, IL, March 6, 2020.
  • “Walking Out the Door:  Why Are Women More Likely Than Men to Leave Law?”  Lawyer2Laywer Podcast, December 19, 2019.
  • “Long Term Careers for Women in the Law.” Federal Bar Association of the Southern District of Texas, Houston, TX, September 17, 2019.
  • “Guided Conversations: This Talk Isn’t Cheap, ”  American Bar Association, New York, NY, September 12, 2019.
  • “Growth Mindset: Resilience, Grit and Risk-Taking,” Pfizer Leadership Summit on Women in the Law, New York, NY, May 8, 2019.
  • “Breaking into the Boardroom: The Pathways and the Process,” DirectWomen, Chicago, IL, April, 2019.
  • “ABA Initiative on Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in the Law,” Shearman & Sterling, New York, NY, February, 2019.
  • “Law Firm Perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion,” George Mason University/Antonin Scalia Law School, Arlington, VA, November 2018.
  • “Our Greatest Resource: Each Other,” Crew Lehigh Valley 2018 Annual Legacy Event, Bethlehem, PA, October 2018.
  • “Bias 2018, Workplace Harassment – You’ve Read About This in the News?…#MeToo,” McDonalds, Chicago, IL, September 2018.
  • “A Current Glance at Women in Law,” ABA Section of International Law Annual Conference, New York, NY, April 2018.
  • “George Boyer Vashon Lecture,” Duane Morris LLP, Philadelphia, PA, April 2018.
  • “May It Please the Court,” Symposium at the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, April 2018.
  • “Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in the Law,” Women, Influence and Power in the Law Conference, Washington, D.C., October 2017.
  • “Women Lawyers in the Courtroom,” Boston, MA, June 7, 2017.
  • “Addressing Gender Bias and Advancement and Retention of Women in Law Firms, the Profession, and the Courts,” New Jersey State Bar Association, Atlantic City, NJ, May 17, 2017.
  • “Surveys on Women Lawyers as Lead Counsel and Trial Counsel in Complex Litigation,” Center for Women in Law Conference, Houston, TX, February 23, 2017.
  • “First Chairs at Trial: More Women Need Seats at the Table,” American Bar Association Webinar, November 2016.
  • “Rainmakers: Born or Bred?,” Women Legal 2016, Chicago, IL, May 19, 2016.
  • “Women Lawyers in the Courtroom,” The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Chicago Bar Association, Chicago, IL, April 21, 2016.
  • “You Hit Like a Girl: Overcoming the Challenge of Unconscious Bias.” American Bar Association/Section of Litigation, Chicago, Illinois, November 2015.
  • “Breaking into the Boardroom: The Pathways and The  Process,” DirectWomen, Chicago, Illinois, November 17, 2015.
  • “Women as Leaders in Law: Where Are We Now,“ Phillip Corboy Law Center, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Chicago, IL, September 25, 2015.
  • “Women as Lead Counsel at Trial: What You Can Do to Take the Lead,” American Bar Association, Chicago, IL, August 1, 2015.
  • “Negotiating Scenarios for Women Lawyers,” Thompson Reuters Conference, Chicago, IL, May 28, 2015.
  • “Solutions and Best Practices for Diversity in the Legal Profession,” Diversity Summit/Missouri Bar Association,  St. Louis, MO, May 20, 2015.
  • “Defining a Successful Women’s initiative,” National Association of Women Lawyers, West Point, NY, May 1, 2015.
  • “Negotiating Your Own Compensation: It’s Not About the Money,” American Bar Association, Chicago, IL, February 17, 2015.
  • “The Role of Women’s Initiatives in Advancing Women Lawyers,” National Association of Women Lawyers Webinar, April 2013.
  • “Capture Your Power: Your Role in Advancing Yourself and Other Women in the Legal Profession,” American Bar Association, Chicago, Illinois, March 2013.
  • “Breaking the Class Ceiling,” New York University School of Law Symposium, March 2013.
  • “Results of the First National Survey of Women’s Initiatives,” National Association of Women Lawyers Annual Meeting, New York, New York, July 2012.
  • “Flex Time Work Policies,” Walmart Conference, Bentonville, AR, June 2010.
  • “What Am I Worth? Attorney Compensation and Law Firm Billing in the New World Order,” Duff & Phelps CLE seminar, Chicago, Illinois, June 2010.
  • “What Should You Do? Lessons Learned and Lessons to Be Learned About Business Development,” Women Lawyers Alliance Inaugural Member Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, May 2010.
  • “Women in the Profession: Where We Were, Where We Are, Where We Should Be,” Ohio Women Bar Association’s Annual Meeting, Dayton, Ohio, May 2010.
  • “National Association of Women Lawyers Annual Survey on the Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms,” American Bar Association on Women in the Profession, July 2009.
  • “Managing Diversity Expectations Between In-House and Outside Counsel,” Martindale-Hubbell and Lexis Nexis, Washington, DC, April 2009.
  • The Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law Inspiration Award (2020)
  • The Women’s Bar Association of Illinois Myra Bradwell Award (2018)
  • The National Association of Women Lawyers Public Service Award (2017)
  • Crain’s Chicago inaugural list: “50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in Chicago” (2017)
  • The Chicago Bar Association Alliance for Women Founder’s Award (2015)
  • PLAC President’s Award (2015)
  • The National Law Journal Two Steps Forward Award (2014)
  • Named a Leading Lawyer, Best Lawyer, Super Lawyer, and “AV Preeminent” peer review rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

Business and Community:

  • The Economic Club of Chicago: Member, 2006-present.
  • DirectWomen: Board Member, 2014-present.
  • The International Women’s Forum: Member, 2016-present.
  • The Youth Campus: Member, Board of Directors, 2000-2009.
  • Museum of Science and Industry: Member, President’s Council, 2001-2005.
  • Chicago YWCA – Leadership Circle Board Member, 2001.
  • Chicago Senior Businesswomen’s Forum: Steering Committee, 1996-2000.

Profession:

  • American Bar Association
    • Chair, Commission on Women in the Profession, 2017-2020;  Co-Chair, Presidential Initiative on Long-term Careers for Women in the Law, 2017-2019; Special Advisor, Presidential Commission on Diversity and Inclusion 360, 2015-2016;  Commissioner, Commission on Women in the Profession, 2012-2015; Task Force on Gender Equality, Co-Chair Compensation Committee, 2012-2014.
    • Products Liability Committee: Co-Chair, 2005-2007; Co-Chair, Subcommittee on Experts, 1997- 2004; Co-Chair, 2000 Mid-Year Meeting; Co-Chair, National Institute on E-Commerce, Fall 2000; Co-Chair, Regional Institute on Preparing the Expert Case, May,1999; Co-Editor, Product Liability National Newsletter, 1997-2000; Co-Chair, Women in Products Liability Regional Institute, Fall 2000 and  Fall 2001.
    • Mass Torts Committee: Editor, Mass Torts Newsletter, 2001.
    • Presidential Committee on Bioethics and the Law, Member, 2005-2006.
  • National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL)
    • President, 2004-2005; Member, Board of Directors, 2000-2008
    • Founding Chair, Committee for Evaluation of Supreme Court Nominees, 2005- 2006
    • Founding Chair, Survey of Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms, 2006-2014.
  • NAWL Foundation
    • Founding President & Board Member, 2009-2014.  Organized structure, strategic plan and fundraising. Designed, analyzed and reported on multiple studies of how lawyers advance in the legal profession.
  • Chicago Bar Foundation: Member, Board of Directors, 2013-2016.
  • Illinois Bar Foundation: Member, Board of Directors, 2005-2007.
  • Circuit Court of Cook County: Chief Judge’s Public Guardian Committee, 1997-2000; Chair, Best Interest of the Child Sub- Committee, 1995-1996.
  • PLAC (formerly Product Liability Advisory Council): Sustaining Member, 1999-Present; Case Selection Committee, 2005-2016.
  • National Institute for Trial Advocacy: Faculty Instructor, 1992-1995.