AU Business Law Review Hosts Women in Business Law Leadership Conference

May 8, 2019

AUBLR Senior Articles Editor Amy D’Avella moderates a discussion with AUWCL Associate Professor Hilary Allen, GW Law Professor Lisa Fairfax, and former SEC Commissioner Kara Stein.
Senior Articles Editor Amy D’Avella moderates a discussion with AUWCL Associate Professor Hilary Allen, GW Law Professor Lisa Fairfax, and former SEC Commissioner Kara Stein.

On Tuesday, May 7, the American University Business Law Review (AUBLR) presented its inaugural Women in Business Law Leadership Conference.

In celebration of the publication’s back-to-back all-women editorial boards, AUBLR’s Volumes 8 and 9 hosted this all-women conference—featuring keynote speaker Kara Stein, former SEC commissioner—  in conjunction with a call for papers, which will be published in an all-women authored issue.

“We noticed a distinct need for showcasing women’s contributions to their fields rather than conferences which focus solely on diversity or diversity issues in the workplace,” AUBLR Editor-in-Chief Lucy Kelly said. “At AUBLR, we feel that while workplace dynamics and diversity issues are vitally important topics, we want to ensure that the day-to-day work of and incredible contributions by women to business and business law are not lost in the mix.”

Kelly and AUWCL Dean Camille Nelson welcomed attendees to the event and offered opening remarks.

Dean Camille Nelson offers welcoming remarks.
Dean Camille Nelson offers welcoming remarks.

“They carry on WCL’s very proud tradition of leadership by women with an all-female editorial board dedicated to shaping the future of business law scholarship, and positioning AUBLR as a force for positive and inclusive change,” Nelson said. “They are using today’s event to highlight successful women who have already lead in critical areas of business, business law, government agencies, higher education, and private law firms.”

The conference’s first panel, “Invisible Silicon Valley: Setting the Pace in a Time of Legal Disruption – Lawyers as Engineers,” included remarks by Senior Vice President of Policy and Research at the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform Oriana Senatore, as well as a discussion with Tonya Esposito ’01, partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

AUBLR Senior Articles Editor Amy D’Avella then led a conversation between Stein, American University Washington College of Law Associate Professor Hilary Allen, and The George Washington University School of Law Professor Lisa Fairfax regarding the intersections of emerging tech, law, regulations, and investments.

“I think about how we can use technology to allow much better communications between investors and the companies they’re investing in,” Stein said. “One of the benefits of having shareholders is that shareholders care about the company, and they’re likely to give the company good feedback because they want the company to do well over time...To some degree, it’s thinking through ‘What is a model or healthy company, and what should those governance structures look like? Can we let people innovate, and do we let them innovate in private space, or in the public?’ And I think we’re going to keep having that conversation going forward.”

AUBLR Editor-in-Chief Lucy Kelly talks with Tonya Esposito '01.
AUBLR Editor-in-Chief Lucy Kelly in conversation with Tonya Esposito '01.

The conference’s third panel, “Business Law Scholarship: The Year Ahead – What Practitioners Need, How Scholars Can Help,” was moderated by Caroline Bruckner, executive in residence of the Department of Accounting and Taxation at American University’s Kogod School of Business, and featured Mary Blatch, associate general counsel & senior director of advocacy at the Association of Corporate Counsel, and Jacqueline Lainez-Flanagan, visiting professor at AUWCL’s Janet R. Spragens Federal Tax Clinic.

“The event on Women in Business Law is a tribute to the leadership that the AU Business Law Review has shown since its founding,” said Professor David Snyder, director of AUWCL’s Business Law Program and AUBLR faculty advisor. “This conference takes advantage of the strong feminist heritage at the law school, and at the same time the panels and discussion are very much forward looking. It is impressive how the editors are leveraging the reputation of the law review—it has long been one of the leading business law journals in the country, and it was the first in the Washington area.  This editorial board is taking the Business Law Review to new levels by capitalizing on our location, our faculty, our alumni, and a strong sense of the future of business law.”

Authors may send questions and submissions for AUBLR’s all-women authored issue to


In 1896, American University Washington College of Law became the first law school in the country founded by women. More than 120 years since its founding, this law school community is grounded in the values of equality, diversity, and intellectual rigor. The law school's nationally and internationally recognized programs (in clinical legal education, trial advocacy, international law, health law, and intellectual property to name a few) and dedicated faculty provide its JD, LL.M., and SJD students with the critical skills and values to have an immediate impact as students and as graduates, in Washington, DC and around the world. For more information, visit