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Women in Law Awards: USA 2017


Thank you to those that attended the Chambers Women in Law Awards: USA 2017. The ceremony was held at The Yale Club of New York City, on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

This year we celebrated the sixth iteration of our Women in Law Awards, 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.

The Chambers Women in Law Awards recognise those pioneers who have furthered the advancement of women within the legal sphere. The Awards seek to recognise these achievements, empower the people behind innovative women’s initiatives, and give greater visibility to gender diversity.

For submission guidelines and categories, please click here.

Click here to view the photo gallery




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

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.


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

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 organization including the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and the International Association of Women Judges.




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.



Jennifer Jaskolka
Assistant General Counsel, Xcel Energy

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.




Future Leader – Gender Diversity

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.

Inspiring Role Model in Promoting Gender Diversity in the Legal Profession

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 as offering healthcare services. 


Most Innovative Gender Diversity Initiative

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Goodwin LLP
Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Winner: Goodwin LLP

Goodwin’s innovative gender diversity program, ‘Brightspots Iniative’, 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 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.

Most Inclusive Firm for Minority Women Lawyers

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 has 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.

Law Firm of the Year in Furthering Women’s Career Progression, Talent Management and Mentoring

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.

Pioneering Pro Bono Program of the Year

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.

Law Firm of the Year in Promoting Flexible Working Environments and Innovative Programs for Mothers

Lawrence & Bundy LLC
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.

Most Innovative Women’s Networking Group 

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

Outstanding Firm in Advancing Gender Diversity and Inclusion

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 has 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.




Future Leader - Gender Diversity

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.

Inspiring Role Model in Promoting Gender Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession

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)

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.


Most Innovative Gender Diversity Initiative

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.

Company of the Year in Furthering Women’s Career Progression, Talent Management and Mentoring

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

Winner: JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Through their Legal ReEntry Program, JPMorgan 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.

Most Innovative Women’s Networking Group

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.

Outstanding Company in Advancing Gender Diversity and Inclusion

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.

"The Chambers Women in Law Awards are a terrific initiative - they reinforce how important it is to treat diversity as a priority inside organizations, not only for law firms but for companies also."
        - Luciana Tornovsky, Partner, Demarest