Stephanie A. Scharf

Stephanie A. Scharf
Principal

Stephanie Scharf is a leading authority for the advancement of women in the legal profession. She is well known as a thought leader in 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 in complex litigation representing 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 combines her skills in data analytics to create measurable strategies for organizational change and achievable goals. She has published innovative research on such topics as the success of law firms in retaining and advancing lawyers, attributes of effective leadership, and strategies for growth and talent development. Stephanie designed and co-authored the innovative ALM/ABA research, Walking Out the Door: the Fact, Figures and Future of Experienced Women Lawyers in Private Practice; designed and co-authored First Chairs at Trial: More Women Need Seats at the Table; founded and conducted the NAWL Annual Survey of Women in Law Firms from 2006-2014; and conducted other applied research on the strategies, career trajectories, and impact of interaction between law organizations and their employees.

Stephanie has held many leadership positions in national organizations. She is the 2017-2020 Chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession and also co-chairs the ABA Presidential Initiative on Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in the Law. Stephanie also served as Special Advisor to the American Bar Association’s Presidential Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. She is a member of the Board of DirectWomen and 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 has received national recognition for her contributions to the legal profession, including such awards as the National Association of Women Lawyers Public Service Award and the National Law Journal Two Steps Forward Award.

Stephanie’s recent publications include:

  • “Walking Out the Door – The Facts, Figures and Future of Experienced Women Lawyers in Private Practice,” Stephanie Scharf and Roberta D. Liebenberg, Published jointly by the American Bar Association and American Lawyer Media Intelligence,  November 2019.
  • “The Power of Partnering,” Stephanie Scharf, N. Nate Saint Victor and Antonio C. Castro.  NAMWOLF, December 2016.
  • “First Chairs at Trial: More Women Need Seats at the Table,” Stephanie Scharf and Roberta D. Liebenberg, American Bar Association, July 2015.
  • “NAWL Annual Survey of Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms,” Authored or co-authored each annual report from 2006-2014. National Association of Women Lawyers, 2006-2014.
  • “The Strategy, Structure and Scope of Women’s Initiatives in Law Firms,” NAWL Foundation, 2012.
  • “Power of the Purse; How General Counsel Can Impact Pay Equity for Women Lawyers,” Lauren Rikleen, Roberta Liebenberg and Stephanie Scharf, American Bar Association, 2012.

Stephanie’s recent speeches and seminars include:

  • “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 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.