In 2024, WBENC continues its inspiring tradition by celebrating the WBE Stars for their remarkable achievements, contributing invaluable leadership, innovation, and influence on the dynamic business landscape. Each handpicked by one of the 14 Regional Partner Organizations (RPOs), these women serve as a wellspring of inspiration for others within their communities. The recognition they receive through the WBE Star Award is a powerful testament to the profound impact they’ve made in their respective business environments.

The 2024 WBE Stars received their accolades at the vibrant WBENC National Conference, a grand event held from March 19-22, 2024, in Denver, Colorado. This conference was a hub of innovation and networking, drawing nearly 5,000 entrepreneurs and business leaders who celebrated the accomplishments of these extraordinary women.

But the celebration doesn’t end there. Throughout 2024, WBENC will continue to spotlight these trailblazing women in various dynamic formats, including an engaging article series and captivating feature articles in WE USA Magazine this summer. Prepare to be inspired!

Meet Louise Leduc Kennedy, Founding Attorney of West Hill Technology Counsel, Inc., with the Center for Women and Enterprise (CWE) Regional Partner Organization. Louise established West Hill in 2008, after working in the Boston office of a regional law firm and as an in-house counsel at IBM. When Louise attended her 10th law school reunion, she was the mother of 2-year-old and 4-year-old daughters, and she was distressed to learn that many women in her class had abandoned the practice of law because the pressures of large firm practice were incompatible with the needs of a growing family.

Louise decided to create a law firm that would have the same high-level, challenging work as large law firms and in-house departments but would allow attorneys and staff to honor their commitments to family, community, and self.

Get inspired by Louise and stay tuned for our 2024 WBENC Stars article series throughout 2024!

West Hill is a boutique business and technology law firm that helps IP-focused businesses grow, assess risk, and plan for and execute a successful exit. This IP can be software, branding, inventions, content, or that “secret sauce” that makes a business unique and successful. Many law firms’ approach this by filing patents, trademarks, or copyright registrations and leave it at that. But the power and value of IP comes from the day-to-day operation of business. Agreements with customers, vendors, and strategic partners. Hiring employees and engaging independent contractors. Addressing data privacy obligations. Avoiding and resolving disputes. West Hill helps clients achieve their goals by serving as a trusted partner to navigate these issues.

Unlike many business-to-business law firms that appear to have the single-minded mission of making as much money as possible for their partners, West Hill is guided in its day-to-day activities by its Mission and Vision. “Delight,” “Joy,” and “Enthusiasm” are not typically words associated with being (or working with) a business lawyer. But they are central to the West Hill culture – along with its commitment to redefining the culture of sophisticated legal practice by providing exceptional value to business clients and unrivaled professional opportunity and quality of life for passionate, top-credentialed practitioners who choose to step off the large law firm or in-house path.

The 2024 theme is AMPLIFY. What does AMPLIFY mean to you?

AMPLIFY means to increase the impact of your business — live your firm values, deliver on your mission, achieve your vision.”

Wisdom from WBE Star, Louise Leduc Kennedy
When and how was your business started?

In 2008, I was leading teams of lawyers at IBM that vetted software and web services companies for acquisition. I soon realized that the smaller companies hadn’t received adequate legal guidance to survive due diligence and get acquired. Big Law and smaller firms without IP expertise were not serving their needs. This opportunity, plus a desire to create an entirely new type of law firm that met the needs of women lawyers, inspired West Hill.

What is one way you recommend people to “AMPLIFY” the impact of the WBENC network in the next 2 years?

Collaboration! A few years ago, I gave a presentation at the CWE conference on structuring strategic alliances between companies. I would love to see more WBENC businesses come up with ways to work together to AMPLIFY their impact.

How are you planning to AMPLIFY the mission of the WBENC network during your time as a WBE Star?

This is a great question because it encouraged me to read the WBENC mission — and learn that it is very similar to a West Hill mission statement: “Fuel the growth of our business clients and the success of our communities.” Successful businesses create successful communities and WBENC business owners need to work not just “in” their business but also “on” their business. Do that corporate housekeeping, protect your IP, put real agreements in place with other businesses, and take other steps so you can reap the rewards of however you define a “successful exit”!

Provide an example of how innovation helped you overcome a challenge, pivot, or adapt your business.

According to surveys of lawyers in all types and sizes of practices, lawyers are not happy. Their job satisfaction can rate in the bottom 7% of all careers. This leads to burnout and other physical and mental health issues. While some large law firms address this challenge with band-aids such as mandatory wellness programs, we have taken a different approach. We only work with clients we like and respect and only do the types of work we enjoy that are in our areas of expertise. We put our clients’ success first. Our experience is that this approach, combined with work flexibility and a commitment to ongoing learning results in happy attorneys. Clients who have never worked with a happy attorney are surprised and delighted. That’s the way we like it.

What areas of innovation do you foresee for women entrepreneurs over the next few years?

As the ranks of women in engineering, computer science, and other STEM fields grow, I look forward to more women in these fields starting and growing businesses that address the most pressing issues facing our country and the world.

What have you learned about yourself as a leader from mentoring or coaching others?

The more tasks I delegate to others, the better leader I can be. As the founder of my firm, I have extremely high standards and expectations. However, the more I allow team members to take ownership of projects with clear expectations of my role (if any), the more we can achieve.

What do you view as benefits of being part of the WBENC network?

The people I have met and the educational programs I have attended (ALD and WeTHRIVE) have been outstanding.

How has engaging in the WBENC Network as a Certified WBE helped your company?

Whenever any of us attend a WBENC or CWE event we come back energized! Whether it is a national educational opportunity or the Women of Color Summit sponsored by CWE, our team members get to meet amazing women business leaders, obtain new insights through thoughtful programming, and have pride in West Hill being a Certified WBE.

What suggestions would you like to share with a newly certified WBE who is looking to get involved in the WBENC community?

Get to know people in your RPO office, attend events (in person if possible), and apply for educational opportunities.

Learn More