THE NETWORK OF EMPOWERED WOMEN (NEW) ROUNDTABLE, INC.
is a nonprofit organization comprised of close to 100 Black women in-house and outside counsel attorneys in Dallas. The NEW Roundtable was founded in 2014 to drive the inclusion and advancement of Black women attorneys through targeted relationship-building, professional development initiatives, and mentoring. The organization began in 2014 when several University of Texas School of Law alumni– all black women – began meeting in casual settings to discuss the challenges in the legal field. Recognizing their power as a collective, this group grew to become a space of encouragement for women of color seeking to expand their careers and business development experience.
In 2011, Courtney Barksdale Perez, now a partner in Carter Arnett PLLC, but then a junior associate at an international law firm, organized a happy hour for friends and classmates to reconnect and discuss how to navigate their challenges. Then in 2013, as junior to mid-level law firm associates and in-house counsel, striving for partnership, for promotion, for business development opportunities, for equity, we had a discussion about the impact we could make if we focused our efforts on helping one another. We walked away from that meeting feeling re-invigorated and inspired to create amongst ourselves and for ourselves, a network that we felt did not yet exist. However, life prevented immediate progress on our new shared mission. Finally, on October 22, 2014, NEW Founder and President Chasity Wilson Henry, sent an email to an even larger group of black women practicing in-house and at law firms around Dallas. The expanded group of twenty-five gathered in a conference room at Vinson & Elkins (hosted by Elizabeth Brandon) and began to conceptualize how to transform our thoughts and hopes and dreams into action. We proceeded to organize ourselves, meeting frequently to outline our goals and mission statement and choose a new name, The NEW Roundtable, Inc. The NEW mission remains unwavering: to Empower, Impact and Influence.
Over the past 5 years
with the help of our members, Influencers, and mentors, our in-house members have provided our law firm members with business opportunities valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, collectively nominated and been nominated by one another for dozens of awards (and have won many of them), including D CEO Corporate Counsel Awards, D Magazine Best Lawyers under 40, Texas Lawbook Corporate Counsel Awards, and Texas Rising Stars, provided opportunities for our members to join Boards, including the Human Rights Initiative, AT&T Performing Arts Center, and Girls on the Run, participated in dozens of job interviews (and landed jobs) facilitated by our members, and most importantly, we have given back to the profession.
Since its inception, NEW has facilitated job placements, professional awards, board placements, business referrals, speaking engagements, and publishing opportunities for its 90+ members, representing over 30 law firms and 40 in-house legal departments in the DFW Metroplex. NEW has been instrumental in the professional development and career advancement of its members. More than a dozen members have received job interviews and placements (both in-house and at law firms) and others have been placed on Boards, all through group referrals. Dozens more have been invited to participate as panelists and keynote speakers at legal conferences, bar associations and other professional events. Moreover, several members’ origination credit within their law firms is directly attributable to NEW business referrals.