Women's Institute for Leadership in Law (WILL)


Fifty percent of law school graduates are women, yet women make up less than 20 percent of partners at Pittsburgh-area law firms. In partnership with Carnegie Mellon Executive Education, the ACBA created the Women’s Institute for Leadership in Law (WILL) to increase the number of women attorneys advancing to leadership positions in the Pittsburgh region.

Women's Institute for Leadership in Law (WILL)
WILL provides a unique training opportunity and experience – at a very affordable price – that will benefit participating attorneys, their organizations and the legal profession overall.


For each WILL class, the ACBA hopes to assemble a diverse cohort of women attorneys with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, practice areas, work environments and goals in order to create a supportive and informative dialogue and to widen participant networks.

Where there’s a WILL, there’s a way.



  • Specifics

    • WILL is specifically geared toward women attorneys with approximately 5 to 8 years of experience who are high-potential attorneys and future leaders in the profession. We understand, however, that whether someone is high-potential and poised for leadership will depend on the individual attorney and the organization and may not be tied to this particular range of experience. We encourage organizations to support the candidacy of those attorneys that they deem are high potential and future leaders in the profession, irrespective of age or years of experience in the legal profession.

    • The 2018 cohort will meet for several sessions throughout a nine to 10-month period beginning in March, commencing with an overnight retreat guided by Carnegie Mellon Executive Education and Leanne Meyer, Executive Director, Accelerate Leadership Center, Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University and Program Director of CMU Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women.

    • Subsequent sessions will be focused on various professional growth areas, including self-assessment, resilience, finance, internal and external business relationships and effective leadership and team management. Sessions will be led by CMU professors, industry experts and local attorneys who have extensive subject matter expertise.

    • The cost for participation in the 2018 cohort of WILL is $3,000 per attorney for ACBA members and $3,200 for nonmembers, with full payment due in February of 2018. The participation fee includes all instruction, program materials, meals, and overnight accommodations for the retreat.

    • Partial scholarships may be available based upon demonstrated need for solo practitioners, attorneys at firms with fewer than 10 lawyers and other attorneys on a case-by case basis. If you would like to request a partial scholarship for tuition, please include a separate statement with your application indicating the amount requested and the basis for your need.

    Session Dates

    Opening overnight retreat Thursday and Friday, March 22 and 23 at CMU
    Thursday, April 12, 6-9 p.m.
    Thursday, May 10, 2-5 p.m.
    Thursday, June 7, 6-9 p.m.
    Thursday, July 12, 2-5 p.m.
    Thursday, Aug. 9, 6-9 p.m.
    Thursday, Sept. 13, 2-5 p.m.
    Thursday, Oct. 11, 6-9 p.m.
    Thursday, Nov. 8, 2-5 p.m.
    Graduation Reception Thursday, Dec. 13, 6-9 p.m.

  • Session descriptions

  • Apply

  • Click here to download the WILL application. If you have trouble viewing the form, click here. Completed applications, including all attachments, should be sent to acbawill@acba.org.

    Applications will be considered as they are received. There is a minimum cohort size of 20 and a maximum size 30. The application deadline is Friday, February 2, 2018.
  • More Info

  • For additional information on WILL, contact Alysia Keating, the ACBA’s Director of Diversity and Gender Equality, at 412-402-6658 or akeating@acba.org

    For more information on gender inequality in the legal profession and the formation of WILL, read this December 2017 Lawyers Journal article.

    Additional contacts:

    ACBA Gender Equality Committee
    ACBA Institute for Gender Equality
    ACBA Women in the Law Division

ACBA WILL program profiled in Lawyers Journal.

“It is the hope of the Gender Equality Committee that the establishment of WILL will provide an intensive and business-focused series of programs for women who have established themselves as attorneys and seek to succeed in their firms and the profession.”

The Hon. Maureen Kelly, Chief Magistrate Judge, U. S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania.