Women’s Leadership Initiative

Program Overview

NEW! Apply to WLI 2020

Launched in Fall 2018, our Women’s Leadership Initiative for early to mid-stage partners is an immersive, case-based learning program, with field experience, coaching, and a capstone program allowing for reflection and synthesis of lessons learned to create plans for future impact. Women attorneys are significantly under-represented in leadership positions, and this program is designed to change that. Women lawyers who participate in this program will gain visibility in practice, increasing the likelihood that decision-makers will view them as leaders and offer leadership roles in the future.

2019 PROGRAM DATES*: Launch: February 6-8, 2019 | Capstone: April 3-5, 2019
2020 PROGRAM DATES*: Launch: April 1-3, 2020 | Capstone: May 13-15, 2020
PROGRAM FEES: $30,000 for a cohort of three (3) women partners


*Participants return to their firms between the on-campus sessions to engage in project-based work.


HLS Executive Education’s Women’s Leadership Initiative is an intensive, project-based program designed to accelerate the leadership potential, experience, and visibility of promising women attorneys who are early to mid-stage partners. We invite firm cohorts of women lawyers, three (3) minimum per firm, to participate in an immersive, case-based learning program, with field experience and coaching, and a capstone program allowing for reflection and synthesis of lessons learned to create plans for future impact.


The Learning Model

Case studies, lectures, classroom discussions, hands-on exercises, and small group discussions focused on law firms and other professional service firms will afford participants the opportunity to discuss the determinants of sustained firm success and effective leadership in such organizations.

In addition to learning the frameworks and tools necessary to cultivate personal leadership styles, effectively manage and influence teams, and become a law firm leader, participants will:

  • Learn how to use design principles to spark creativity and solve complex problems
  • Build leadership skills in practice during field project
  • Develop a peer network of women leaders
  • Receive bespoke coaching to support accountability and success
  • Increase visibility and raise your leadership profile within your organization
  • Practice leadership skills in a supportive program, reducing risk of leadership experimentation


Program Structure

This program is comprised of three parts: an on-campus launch, followed by an intermediary period to focus on project work, and closing with an on-campus capstone. Designed to expand your leadership skills, mindset, and network, the program allows participants to combine full-time on-campus learning and distance learning project work. This unique structure gives participants opportunities to apply new insights at work during the program and refine their understanding and application of frameworks discussed in the curriculum.

Program participants attend in teams of 3 from a firm. Each team is expected to connect with each other and firm leadership prior to the program’s start to ensure that the team member’s goals are aligned and that the team’s goals align with firm strategy. Similarly, teams are expected to collaborate on program-related work between the two on-campus sessions. While on-campus, teams will have the opportunity to work both within their team and with members of other teams.

The Women’s Leadership Initiative is designed for teams of three (3) promising early to mid-stage women partners per firm. While the seniority level of participating attorneys will vary by firm, we offer the following guidance:

  • At two-tier (equity and non-equity partner) firms, the most appropriate seniority level is likely that of early equity partner or income partner up for equity partner in the coming year.
  • At one tier firms, since lawyers make equity partner earlier, the most appropriate seniority level is likely more senior in terms of number of years as a partner.

Application Process
All applications are acknowledged and all application information is confidential. The Admissions Committee reviews applications and qualified candidates are admitted on a rolling, space-available basis. The Admissions Committee only reviews completed applications.

Every Applicant Must Submit the Following:

Program Fee
The program fee of $25,000 for a cohort of three (3) women partners covers tuition, course material, accommodation, and most meals. Payment is due within 30 days of the invoice date. If admission is less than 30 days from the start of the program, payment is due upon receipt of the invoice.

Cancellations, Substitutions and Deferrals

Participants who are unable to attend the program must submit a substitution. Requests to send a substitute to attend the designated program must be submitted in writing by 5 pm EST up to 3 business days prior to the program.  A Substitute must submit her/his admissions forms and subject to the approval of the Harvard Law School Executive Education Admissions Committee, the registration fee will be transferred from the registered participant to the substitute without penalty.

Immunization Notice

To ensure the safety and well-being of our entire campus community, the State of Massachusetts requires that educational visitors are immunized against common contagious illnesses.  Please ensure that your immunizations are up to date prior to arrival on campus.

Planning your visit 

The Teaching Team

Our core faculty are members of Harvard faculty – distinguished academicians, educators, researchers, authors, and practitioners in their respective fields. Representing various disciplines, they are close to practice through relationships with law firm leaders and General Counsel and through personal involvement as consultants for top firms around the world.

Click on faculty names below for biographical information.

Hillary Sale

Michele DeStefano 

Francesca Gino

Kathleen McGinn

Sheila Heen