The Winners – Chambers Women in Law Awards: USA 2017

Last Thursday, June 15, 2017, we were delighted to host the sixth iteration of the Chambers Women in Law Awards: USA 2017, which took place at the Yale Club of New York, in association with Sidley Austin LLP, and sponsored by Greenspoon Marder, Baker Botts LLP and King & Spalding LLP.

Chris Kay, Global Seminars and Diversity Manager, Chambers and Partners

This year’s awards brought a unique opportunity to champion the achievements of legal practitioners from both the in-house and private practice as well as firms and companies who have brought about dramatic improvements in gender equality, women’s advancement and inclusion in the legal profession. With over five years of extensive research into diversity in the USA, these awards represent both the culmination of our research and an opportunity to promote the importance of gender diversity and equal opportunities for women across the legal spectrum.

Michael J. Schmidtberger, Partner and Janet Zagorin, Client Service Officer, Sidley Austin LLP

The ceremony kicked off with an introduction from the Chambers Seminars and Diversity Manager, Chris Kay, followed quickly by a word from Michael J. Schmidtberger, a Partner at our headline sponsor for the evening, Sidley Austin LLP.

Kathleen Franklin, Global Ethics and Compliance Strategy Leader, Sony Group

Following on, it gave us great pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker for the evening, Kathleen Franklin, Global Ethics and Compliance Strategy Leader of Sony Group. As a Board Member of DirectWomen and The Thirty Percent Coalition, Kathleen offered an empowering speech on the positive impact that having a high percentage of women in senior leadership roles can bring to a firm or company. She finished off with a call to arms for the legal profession to implement the cultural and policy changes needed to bring about this change now, rather than at an indeterminate time in the future.

Up next, we were very lucky to be treated to a traditional dance of female empowerment from the wonderful Sanskruti School of Cultural Dance. Wearing traditional Indian dress, the performers offered a powerful Indian Contemporary piece illustrating a woman’s beauty and grace as well as her ability to persevere and overcome unseen obstacles through courage and strength. We were honored to have Sanskruti School of Cultural Dance perform at the ceremony as they vibrantly set the tone for the evening with a visual representation of women’s empowerment and appreciation for different cultures.

Sanskruti School of Cultural Dance
Elia Diaz-Yaeger – Shareholder, Lugenbuhl, Wheaton, Peck, Rankin & Hubbard

After a lengthy applause, we were ready to begin the award presentation, kicking things off with the Future Leader – Gender Diversity (Private Practice):

Elia Diaz-Yaeger – Shareholder, Lugenbuhl, Wheaton, Peck, Rankin & Hubbard (Louisiana)
Emily R. Fedeles – Associate, Baker & Hostetler LLP (New York)
Leah Godesky – Counsel, O’Melveny & Myers LLP (New York)
Amy M. Joseph – Associate, Hooper Lundy & Bookman PC (Massachusetts)

Winner: Elia Diaz-Yaeger – Shareholder, Lugenbuhl, Wheaton, Peck, Rankin & Hubbard

A high-achiever in all aspects, Elia Diaz-Yaeger has used her leadership skills to advance women and, in particular, Hispanic women, in the legal profession. As the National Secretary and former President of the Hispanic National Bar Association, she provides Hispanic students with exposure to the legal profession and ensures they receive the support and mentoring required to break down barriers and advance their careers.

Future Leader – Gender Diversity (In-House):

Seendy Fouron – Executive Director of the Legal and Compliance Division, Morgan Stanley

Evelyn Chen – Senior Counsel, IPR & Licensing, Ericsson (Texas)
Seendy Fouron – Executive Director, Legal and Compliance Division, Morgan Stanley Investment Management (New York)

Winner: Seendy Fouron – Executive Director of the Legal and Compliance Division, Morgan Stanley

Since joining Morgan Stanley, Seendy has been a key figure in revamping the Legal and Compliance Division Diversity and Inclusion Committee, adding sub-committees focused on retention and leadership and the diversity pipeline, in her role as co-chair. She has also implemented strategies for diverse advancement in the wider community, pairing in-house lawyers with diverse junior law firm associates in the Legal Education and Development Program and offering the ‘Leadership and Excellence in Inclusion and Diversity’ award for outside counsel that demonstrate a commitment to advancing diverse lawyers.

Laura Acosta and Emily Rapalino, Goodwin LLP

Most Innovative Gender Diversity Initiative (Private Practice):

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Goodwin LLP
Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Winner: Goodwin LLP

Goodwin’s innovative gender diversity program, ‘Brightspots Initiative’, takes a three-pronged approach: identifying and engaging in market trends, such as the Mansfield 30% Rule; partnering with behavioral psychologists to implement practical nudges towards a more inclusive culture; and offering unconscious bias training with a ‘tip sheet’ for all leaders. Beyond these clear and practical commitments, Goodwin’s was the first law firm to join the ‘100% Talent: The Boston Women’s Compact’, a group taking measurable steps to eliminate the wage gaps in their companies.

Jackson Vaught and Emily Griminger, UBS AG

Most Innovative Gender Diversity Initiative (In-House)

HP Inc.
MetLife, Inc.
Morgan Stanley

Winner: UBS AG

With numerous initiatives designed for women’s advancement, including the UBS Career Comeback scheme and the Sophomore Women’s Program, which provide steps for women to return to the legal profession or find out more while students, UBS is tackling gender diversity in a truly innovative way. Their ‘Gender-Lens Wealth Report’, part of an ongoing series focusing on women in a globalized economy, offers a comprehensive look at the state of gender equality and advises on proposals to achieve gender diversity goals.

Jennifer Jaskolka – Assistant General Counsel, Xcel Energy

Next up we had the first of our ‘Outstanding Contribution to Advancing Gender Diversity in the Legal Profession‘ awards, celebrating the incredible work carried out by a trailblazing diversity champion in the last year.

The In-House award went to Jennifer Jaskolka, Assistant General Counsel, Xcel Energy.

Jennifer Jaskolka raising the roof with her acceptance speech

By leading the way in the traditionally male fields of energy and law, Jennifer has had a huge influence on the gradual diversification of her fields. Aside from acting as co-chair of the Xcel Energy Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Co-President of the Center for Legal Inclusiveness, Jennifer is a frequent speaker at diversity events and initiated a diversity survey for outside counsel, using the opportunity to raise awareness and affect change in all organizations she has contact with.

Inspiring Role Model in Promoting Gender Diversity in the Legal Profession (Private Practice):

Rebecca C. Alexander – Partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP

Rebecca C. Alexander – Partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP (Colorado)
Linda T. Coberly – Partner, Chicago Managing Partner, Winston & Strawn LLP (Illinois)
Kim Desmarais – Partner, Ashurst LLP (New York)
Megan E. Jones – Partner, Hausfeld LLP (California)
Andrea S. Kramer – Partner, McDermott Will & Emery LLP (Illinois)
Diana B. Kruze – Partner, Morrison & Foerster LLP (California)
Tracy N. LeRoy – Partner, Sidley Austin LLP (Texas)
Jami Wintz McKeon – Chair, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP (California and Pennsylvania)
Margo Wolf O’ Donnell – Shareholder, Chair, Diversity Committee, Vedder Price (Illinois)
Natalie A. Pierce – Shareholder, Co-Chair, Littler Mendelson, PC (California)
Sara L. Terheggen – Partner, Morrison & Foerster LLP (California)

Winner: Rebecca C. Alexander – Partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP

Only the second ever woman equity partner in the Denver office, Rebecca Alexander has been a key figure in ensuring that management address diverse issues through her work as chair of the Work/Life Sub-Committee of the firm’s National Women’s Committee. Further, she developed a mentoring program for diverse associates and lateral hires, resulting in her being named Mentor of the Year for 2012. In the community, she has been running women’s networking events for over 11 years and serves on the board of Florence Crittenton Services, educating and empowering teen mothers, as well offering healthcare services.

Our next award was presented by our sponsor for this category, Baker Botts LLP’s Chief Marketing Officer, Gillian Ward.

Inspiring Role Model in Promoting Gender Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession (In-House):

Nithya Das – Senior Vice President and General Counsel, AppNexus (New York)
Ruchi B. Datta – Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, GS1 US Inc. (New Jersey)
Louise Firestone – Senior Vice President and General Counsel, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc.Inc. (New York)
Amy Fox – Director and Associate General Counsel, Oculus (California)
Carrie J. Hightman – Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, NiSource Inc. (Illinois)
Maryanne Lavan – Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Lockheed Martin Corporation (Maryland)
Violeta Longino – Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Regional Compliance Officer, AccorHotels (Florida)
Alexa Pappas – Global Head of Employment Law, Morgan Stanley (New York)
Jennifer L. Rochon – General Counsel, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) (New York)
Dawn Smith – Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary, VMware (California)

Gillian Ward – Chief Marketing Officer, Baker Botts LLP and Alexa Pappas – Global Head of Employment Law, Morgan Stanley

Winner: Alexa Pappas – Global Head of Employment Law, Morgan Stanley

Alexa has had great success in sponsoring high-performing female lawyers on firm-wide leadership development programs, resulting in a significant increase in women being promoted. Further, she serves as the senior advisor for Morgan Stanley’s Legal and Compliance Division’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, while also helping to facilitate the Return to Work program. A true leader by example, Alexa regularly hosts community events to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to achieve their career goals.

Law Firm of the Year in Furthering Women’s Career Progression, Talent Management and Mentoring (Private Practice): 

Rosa Walker, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pitman LLP

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
McDermott Will & Emery LLP
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP
Sidley Austin LLP
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Winner: Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Pillsbury Winthrop’s effective approach identifies potential woman partners early in their careers and ensures they have equal opportunities through the Board Committee on the Advancement of Women. Further, by engaging and training men on the issues that women face and ensuring that their ‘no questions, no tracking’ flexible working policy is available for and used by everyone, their partner class of 2017 included 75% women – a fantastic achievement in women’s career progression.

Company of the Year in Furthering Women’s Career Progression, Talent Management and Mentoring (In-House):

Marisol Rubecindo, JP Morgan Chase Bank

Fannie Mae
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
MetLife, Inc.
U.S. Security Associates, Inc.

Winner: JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Through their Legal ReEntry Program, JP Morgan Chase target all aspects of career progression, talent management and mentoring. By identifying talented women who seek to gain entry back in to the profession and offering a 12-week paid fellowship, with the support of a senior mentor and ‘program buddy’, they have converted 80% of ReEntry employees to full-time work with the vast majority taking up a senior role in the legal department.

Susan G. Esserman – Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP collects her trophy

Our next ‘Outstanding Contribution to Advancing Gender Diversity in the Legal Profession‘ award was for Private Practice, with the trophy going to Susan G. Esserman – Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP.

A hugely respected figure for her legal practice as chair of Steptoe’s International Trade Group and former US Trade Negotiator with the rank of Ambassador, Susan Esserman has used her skills and position to advance women in the profession and protect them outside it. As a Deputy US Trade Representative, she established a ‘Women’s Trade and Economic Development Center’ in Sibasa, South Africa, while she also co-founded and co-led Steptoe’s Women’s Forum. The last year has been hugely significant as, on top of leading Steptoe’s pro bono work with victims of human trafficking, she founded and led the University of Maryland Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment (SAFE) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors, which offers comprehensive legal services and the safety and security that empowers women to live their own lives. A truly outstanding contribution.

Susan’s call to arms

Most Innovative Women’s Networking Group (Private Practice):

King & Spalding LLP
McDermott, Will & Emery LLP
O’Melveny & Myers LLP

Allison Altersohn, King & Spalding LLP

Winner: King & Spalding LLP

King & Spalding’s ‘Women in IP’ group has been effectively targeting a traditionally male-dominated practice area for four years now. Beyond concerted efforts to advance the careers of their female lawyers in this field, they have organized and hosted a ‘Girls’ STEM Robotics Program’, growing each year from 2015 and now taking place in five cities across the U.S. The event encourages girls and young women to engage in and think creatively about robotics, while also exposing them to senior King & Spalding lawyers and clients.

Most Innovative Women’s Networking Group (In-House)

The Women in Law Awards is always a great chance to network

ChIPs Network, Inc.
MetLife, Inc.
Women of Fox Sports

Winner: MetLife, Inc.

Metlife have taken a truly universal approach to Women’s advancement, with their Global Women’s Initiative focusing on recruitment, retention and promotion to ensure female employees thrive. Similarly, their Women’s Business Network and Developing Women’s Career Experience programs ensure that, beyond inclusion, all staff are given the tools to reach the upper-echelons of the company.

Pioneering Pro Bono Program of the Year

Elizabeth Lewis, McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Dechert LLP
Greenberg Traurig, LLP
McDermott, Will & Emery LLP
O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP

Winner: McDermott, Will & Emery LLP

McDermott Will & Emery have been leading the way with their pro bono activities this year. With over 90% of their female lawyers taking on pro bono work, they have been supporting a number of programs that focus on women, including: The Women’s Treatment Center; The Women’s Leadership and Mentoring Alliance; Tahirih Justice Center; Her Justice; and The Victim Rights Law Center. Further, McDermott lawyers have taken on a series of pro bono cases involving vulnerable or abused women, ensuring they have the safety and security they need.

Most Inclusive Firm for Minority Women Lawyers

Yvette Ostolaza and Laurin Kleiman, Sidley Austin LLP

Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo
Hogan Lovells US LLP
Proskauer Rose LLP
Sidley Austin LLP
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Winner: Sidley Austin LLP

With minority women associates having the lowest attrition rate of all demographics in 2016, Sidley have shown a clear commitment to inclusion. Their mentoring efforts include participation in LEAD, a corporate/law firm cross-mentoring program designed to increase visibility of minority women, and the Women Partners Business Development Fund. Similarly, the majority of their partners have undergone renewed training in identifying and preventing unconscious bias in the last 12 months.

Laura Stein – Executive Vice President and General Counsel, The Clorox Company

Our next award was the first of our ‘Lifetime Achievement for Furthering Gender Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession‘ categories, honoring the eminent women who have spent their careers working to not only advance women in the profession but safeguard those outside of it.

The In-House winner was: Laura Stein – Executive Vice President and General Counsel, The Clorox Company

A moment of inspiration from Laura Stein

The first female General Counsel at two Fortune 500 companies, Laura’s career has been one of trailblazing a path for the advancement of gender diversity. Beyond chairing Clorox’s women’s resource group, ‘Support Heart and Opportunity for Women’ (SHOW), Laura is a frequent guest speaker and blogger on diverse advancement, as well as acting as council and board member for organizations including the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and the International Association of Women Judges.

Law Firm of the Year in Promoting Flexible Working Environments and Innovative Programs for Mothers (Private Practice):

Lawrence & Bundy LLC

Carrie Cohen, Morrison & Foerster LLP

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Morrison & Foerster LLP
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Winston & Strawn LLP

Winner: Morrison & Foerster LLP

Since 2006, Morrison & Foerster’s Women’s Strategy Committee has been innovating the workplace to promote flexibility and remote working. Beyond their gender-neutral parental leave and caregiver programs, each lawyer requesting reduced hours or remote working is evaluated on a one-to-one basis, allowing them to personalize their work-life balance to maximum benefit. Their results have been significant, with the partner class of 2017 boasting four female lawyers that have been working reduced hours for a number of years.

Outstanding Firm in Advancing Gender Diversity and Inclusion (Private Practice):

Paula Hinton, Winston & Strawn LLP

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
Greenspoon Marder P.A.
Littler Mendelson P.C.
Sidley Austin LLP
Winston & Strawn LLP

Winner: Winston & Strawn LLP

With their internal Women’s Leadership and Sponsorship initiatives, Winston & Strawn have shown a great commitment to building the skills for partnership and ensuring diverse advancement. Similarly, their investment into the Client Focus Women Rainmakers Roundtable program has resulted in 15 current female partners. Not stopping there, the last year has seen them review their parental leave policy, which is now entirely gender-neutral and offers a Parental Leave Transition Support Program.

Donna Snyder, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Outstanding Company in Advancing Gender Diversity and Inclusion (In-House):

Lockheed Martin Corporation
Morgan Stanley
Teva Pharmaceuticals
Volkswagen Group

Winner: Lockheed Martin Corporation

Amongst just 4% of Fortune 500 companies chaired by a woman, with a female General Counsel and a third of the Board of Directors also being women, Lockheed Martin certainly leads the way in terms of gender diversity in leadership. Their various networking and career progression groups, including the Women’s Leadership Forum, Women’s IMPACT Network and the Women’s Legal Group, ensure the pipeline for career advancement is always open, with a particular focus on facilitating BAME women in STEM.

Antonia Stolper, Americas Regional Managing Partner, Shearman & Sterling LLP

Our final award of the night was the ‘Lifetime Achievement for Furthering Gender Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession (Private Practice)‘ category.

The winner was Antonia E. Stolper – Americas Regional Managing Partner, Shearman & Sterling LLP.

Antonia Stolper rounds off the ceremony with a ceiling-shattering speech

Throughout her career, Antonia Stolper has been a champion of and advocate for the advancement of women. As a founding member of Shearman & Sterling’s Women Partners Committee and a board member of the Council of Americas, where she helped to form the Women’s Hemispheric Network, Antonia has provided the practical steps and encouragement required for women’s advancement in firms and corporations across the Americas. Further, with over 10 years working with the Cyrus R. Vance Center, she has led pro bono work for vulnerable women and recently, in just six months, set up 18 Women in Profession committees across Latin America.

The Winners – Chambers Women in Law Awards: USA 2017

It was an honour to organise and host such a special event. We would like to send a huge thanks to all attendees and, in particular, the incredible speakers who lit up the night with their expert insight into advancing women in the profession and their passionate declarations of equal opportunities for all.

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