Fall 2013 Newsletter

In This IssueMembers Spotlight

NJWLA Grant Applications

Feature Article: Overcoming Analysis Paralysis In Your Job Search

2013 National Conference of Women Bar Associations Summit

NJWLA Executive Board Installation Dinner

Upcoming Events

Message From the President

Member Spotlight

The NJWLA is proud to congratulate the following members on being named to the 2013 “New Leaders of the Bar” listing of the state’s leading young attorneys by the New Jersey Law Journal:

Board Member
Sandra Moran


Nicole Alexander

Jennifer Carillo Perez

Nicole Downs

Jennifer Harwood

Cassandra Porter

Micala Campbell Robinson

Loly G. Tor
was recently published in the New Jersey Law Journal.
Here is a link to her article.

Theresa Egler

has been appointed as President of The Colgate University Alumni Association

Lynne Anderson

has been appointed to the Board of NJ LEEP.

President- Elect,

Randi Kochman, is The New Jersey Women Lawyers Association’s Professional Lawyer of the Year Award Recipient.

Board Member,
Renée A. Rubino, has received an AV Preeminent® rating, the highest rating possible, from the MARTINDALE-HUBBELL® PEER REVIEW RATINGS,™ an objective indicator of a lawyer’s high ethical standards and professional ability. The rating is generated from evaluations of lawyers by other members of the bar and the judiciary in similar areas of practice within the same jurisdiction and geographic location.

Tracy Armstrong
Loren Rosenberg Lightman
have been promoted to partner at Lomurro, Davison, Eastman & Muñoz, P.A. The NJWLA applauds Lomurro, Davison for its commitment to the advancement of women and its clear support of the NJWLA’s mission!

Maraziti, Falcon & Healey, LLP is proud to announce that
Joanne Vos has become a Partner with the firm. The NJWLA would like to congratulate Joanne, who is one of our Members, on her promotion! We also would like to applaud MFH for its commitment to the advancement of women in our profession and its support of the NJWLA’s mission

Have you recently …..

Won a summary judgment motion?

Closed a big deal?

Tried your first case?

Started a new job?

Had a baby?

Earned a promotion?

Returned to the workforce?

Celebrated 10, 20, 25, etc. years as a lawyer?

Been named a Rising Star or SuperLawyer in your field?

Whatever your good news is, we want you to share your success!

Please email njwlacomm@gmail.com
with any details you would like to be included in our next newsletter


NJWLA 2013-2014 Grants
NJWLA is currently accepting Grant Applications for programs that research, develop, and/or implement solutions, strategies and initiatives to:

1) Support and promote women lawyers to the highest levels of law firm, government, academic, community and corporate positions and the judiciary;

2) Engage in statewide and/or nationwide efforts designed to retain women in the legal profession, including through providing education;

3) Remove barriers to women’s entry and advancement in the legal profession;

4) Develop and promote women leaders, role models and mentors in the legal profession;

5) Educate the legal profession and general public about gender equity concerns and issues related to the legal profession;

6) Provide a voice for women, including in shaping legislation of importance to women; and

7) Encourage women to attend law school.

The total amount of Grant availability will be
There is no dollar limit on the amount an organization may apply
for; however, NJWLA anticipates that it will award multiple grants in 2014 from this amount.
Applicants must be a nonprofit, federally tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization (nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies are eligible to apply). Applications must be submitted in English.


* A program must be specific to the mission and purpose of NJWLA

* Salaries, if requested, must be for personnel directly related to this program only and not general work of applicant. These salaries must also be in line with nonprofit salaries and should not include a component for fringe benefits.

Agreement and Grant Period:
All grants are conditioned on Grantee’s acceptance and execution of a Grant Agreement. The Grant Cycle is February 1, 2014 through January 30, 2015.

Payments and Reporting:

Grant awards will be made in two (2) payments, if warranted. The first payment will be made upon receipt of a fully executed Grant Agreement. The second payment, if warranted, will be made after NJWLA receives and accepts the six (6) month Progress Report, which is due on July 31, 2014. A final report is also required within thirty (30) days of the completion of the Grant Cycle.

Confirmation of Receipt of Applications:
NJWLA will send email notification to the Contact Person indicated on the Grant Application confirming receipt of an application. If your application contains very minor compliance deficiencies, you may be notified and asked to correct the deficiencies in a prescribed timeframe.

Announcement of Grant

The NJWLA will announce the grant awards by February 2014. All recipients will receive written notification. Applicants that are awarded funding will be featured in the Gala Program for the 2014 NJWLA WILL Platinum Gala. Grant recipients are strongly recommended to attend the 2015 NJWLA WILL Platinum Gala as guests of the Association, and, if requested, provide a summary of grant outcomes.

The Grant
Application and Grant Agreement can be found at

We are currently in the process of updating the NJWLA website!
New features will include real-time social media feeds and a “Find a Lawyer” page that will group our members by practice area and function as a search tool for those seeking legal counsel.

If you would like to be listed, please send an email to cskinner@njwla.org
with an updated list of the following:

– Full Name

– Practice Area

– Firm Name

– Firm Address

– Email Address

– Telephone Number

November 2013

Featured Article

Overcoming Analysis Paralysis In Your Job Search

By Melissa A. Peters

Most of my female lawyer candidates feel that unless they match the job description perfectly, they should not pursue the opportunity. By contrast, I frequently receive applications from male lawyer candidates who do not, at first glance, seem to be perfectly qualified for a position. The key word in that sentence is “perfectly” – there is no perfect position or candidate; but there can be a perfect match. If we, as female lawyers, keep focusing on whether we are “perfect” for a position, we will stop ourselves from moving forward. Too much over-analysis at the preliminary stages will hold you back. By not even entering the game you are thwarting yourself from landing that next big promotion, job, or in-house position.

“I don’t have the right type of experience to go in-house”

I am working with a very impressive female lawyer who is currently working in a non-traditional legal role for a large, public company. She has the “perfect” academic and professional credentials, and is looking to transition to a more traditional legal role at another company. After taking a look at her impressive resume, we chatted at length and strategized about how to effectuate her transition. Ironically, she kept saying that she wanted to “go in-house” and understood that such transition was going to be difficult. I pointed out to her that she is already “in-house”, albeit in a non-traditional legal position. I advised her to use her current experience as a positive to prospective employers – show them that she does have “in-house” experience because she is at a large company and has learned to navigate that business world. Unlike a lawyer who has only worked at a firm, she can emphasize that she interacts, on a daily, face-to-face basis, with high-level business executives who need her to explain things in non-legalese language within a matter of seconds. She has first-hand industry knowledge and knows what it is like to work alongside businesspeople every day.

When we started the conversation, it was all about how she was (in her mind) going to make this difficult transition, when she did not currently match up to the typical in-house job descriptions. By the end of the conversation, it was about how we are going to use her current experience as a positive to springboard to the right position for her. Sometimes that’s what it takes – a mental switch or shift to get yourself going in the right direction. Stop viewing your experience as not yet good enough, and use it to propel you to the next step in your career.

“I cannot take the next step in my career because I just don’t have the right level of experience”

I have been confidentially working with an extremely impressive and seasoned in-house attorney. She has all of the right stuff – she is motivated, intelligent, accomplished and savvy. Furthermore, she is hungry to move on to a new challenge at a higher level than her current company can offer. Like so many female lawyers that I speak with, she knows that she will not advance at her current company because her male boss is fairly young and is not leaving anytime soon! As such, she is faced with the decision: does she quell her inner ambition and desire to become General Counsel at a company or does she stay in her comfortable position at her company?

Truth be told, there is no right answer; there is, however, a correct type of analysis. Let your mind think about leaving and see how that resonates with you. Get yourself in the game and test the waters to see if your experience interests those companies/positions that interest you. If you refuse to do that analysis, and continually tell yourself that you must wait for the “perfect” level of experience, you may be waiting a very long time! If you decide that the best place for you to be is exactly where you currently are, then good for you. Just make sure that your decision comes from an honest place, that also takes into account your true ambition and career goals.

So many female lawyers try to convince themselves that they are happy with status quo, largely because it works for their life. Many of them, like myself, have young children and need jobs that allow us to juggle life’s demands. So we stay at our law firm or company, never daring to envision that next step – it is too painful to think about what we may be missing out on, so we try not to think about it. What if you did apply to that position that seemed so out-of-reach? What if you called me and told me that you want to hear about opportunities that may be a fit for you? That step may propel you forward to the job that you really want, but think you cannot obtain or deserve right now.

“I feel like my experience has boxed me into my current position so I really cannot leave”

I am working with a senior female lawyer at a well-known New Jersey law firm and she clearly wants to move on. Partnership is not going to happen for her at her current firm, based on many factors: top-heavy with partners already; her portables are not significant enough to get the attention of the partnership; she works for one heavy-hitting partner a lot, and he will never view her as a peer. I hear that scenario all of the time: female lawyers are doing great work for successful partners at top firms, and if the female lawyer decides she wants to move on, she is absolutely paralyzed about how to leave that “nest” of security. What will she do without that partner to feed her work and keep her busy? At the same time, she feels stagnant and knows in her heart that it is time to move on to a different firm that will not view her as a “homegrown” service attorney forever. She has the skills to become a rainmaker and has started to attract clients, but that is not encouraged at her current firm. The message is clear – keep doing what you are doing and service this partner’s work because he is valuable to us and we need to keep him happy.

Is she crazy to think about leaving this purportedly secure job? In this market, wouldn’t a lot of attorneys trade with her in a second? The reality is that she has paid her dues and feels that she will never advance in her current position, and therefore is stagnated and vulnerable. When economic lay-offs occur, those senior lawyers who have not built a book and/or achieved partnership are extremely vulnerable. In fact, the partnership title is no longer a ticket to security – grooming your own book of business is the only true security at a law firm. She wants to step outside of his shadow and cultivate the clients that she has been nurturing for years. The best way to do that is to polish off her resume, make a Business Plan (painful but very worthwhile), and talk with me about the type of position she is seeking and realistically can obtain at this point.
Despite the ever-popular trend of wanting to go in-house, there are law firms in New Jersey that are growing and thriving and want female lawyers to succeed. Yes, you have to be realistic about your portables and your corresponding salary expectations, but taking the first step is considering the possibility of moving on. Loyalty is admirable but not to the point where you feel that it is really holding you back. It is not the fault of this senior male partner that my female lawyer candidate is being held back – she is holding herself back by not seeking out other professional opportunities.

I am not suggesting that you apply for positions for which you have no background/experience. Rather, think about your skill set and apply for positions that are somewhat within your reach, without your overanalysis! Talk with a legal recruiter that you can trust and ask them about their thoughts re your experience, and how it matches up with certain positions. Whatever you do and however you go about it, get in the game! Watching from the sidelines and waiting to get the “perfect” experience so that you can land that “perfect” job will only cause you to feel frustrated and overlooked.

The legal job market is still tight and it is still somewhat of a buyer’s market. It is scary to put yourself out there for rejection and to hear that your experience is not on target. If you are not even entering the race, you cannot win. As a recruiter, I know that it always ultimately comes down to a good connection between the employer and the lawyer. Even if your experience is not perfectly on point, if you can get yourself in the game and sell the skill set you have, you may get the position that currently feels out of reach

Melissa A. Peters, Esq. is Managing Director at Princeton Legal Search Group. She focuses exclusively on the permanent placement of lawyers in law firm and in-house settings. She can be reached at 609.734.7490 and mpeters@princetonlegal.com

2013 NCWBA Summit

The Annual Nation Conference of Women Bar Association Summit was held on August 9th, 2013 in San Francisco, California. The Summit is an opportunity for members to learn about leading trends facing women and the law, to share ideas, successes and innovative programs for service to the public and to the membership of women’s bar associations and to network with bar leaders from across the country. The keynote speaker was United States Congresswomen, Pat Schroeder, Colorado’s First Congresswoman. This year marked the 20 year anniversary of The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, an Act sponsored by Congresswoman Schroeder.

Scheduling permitted all willing Women’s Bar Association Members to speak about their organization’s strengths. Kirsten Brannigan, Executive Board Member and NJWLA Representative, spoke about the revitalization of the NJWLA. She highlighted the growing membership, grant opportunities and The WILL Platinum Gala, specifically emphasizing the ability to attract highly esteemed keynote speakers. Members from other organizations were very impressed with the NJWLA’s progress and programming capabilities.

Notable ideas presented by other bar associations included Equal Pay Programming, additional Judicial “nuts & bolts” education and how to structure charitable giving by creating a 501(c)(3) charitable arms of their respective organizations. Bar Associations across the country are also very active and influential when approaching state officials and newly elected politicians about promoting women judges and women cabinet nominees.

Next year’s NCWBA Summit is in Boston, Massachusetts.

New Jersey Women Lawyers Association Executive Board Installation Dinner

Peapack, NJ– Approximately 50 NJWLA executive board members and committee chairpeople gathered at 90 Acres Restaurant on July 16th for the annual Executive Board Installation Dinner. Kirsten Branigan, Co-Director of Endorsements, gave the opening remarks recounting the revitalization of the NJW
LA a decade ago. She was followed by The Honorable Judge Lois Goodman, who swore in the members of the executive board.

President, Suzanne Cerra also addressed the attendees about her vision for the upcoming year. Cerra stressed the importance of “women empowering women” and the need to continue to further the mission of the NJWLA through outreach. Her plan includes organizing a Worklife Balance Summit to explore the challenges women in the legal profession face and creating a “Women Leaders in Law” Program to help bring women in all aspects of the legal profession together to talk about their unique perspectives. Cerra also stressed the importance of creating a strategic planning committee to ensure the organization grows and continues to meet its goals.

NJWLA Fall Kickoff Cocktail Party

September 18th, 2013

Pier House McCloone’s
Long Branch, NJ

NJWLA & ECBF “Fore Ladies Only” Golf Outing and Clinic raises $1,000 for American Heart Association

Livingston, NJ– In excess of 60 golfers enjoyed the Annual NJWLA and ECBF “Fore Ladies Only” Golf Outing and Clinic on Monday, July 29th at the Cedar Hill Golf and Country Club in Livingston, New Jersey.
The clinic educated participants on all aspects of the sport including putting, driving, scoring, and course etiquette. Golfers were also offered wine and chocolate courtesy of a refreshment cart.

The Awards dinner included a silent auction and survival story from an American Heart Association Advocate. The NJWLA and ECBF presented The American Heart Association with a $1,000 check.

Upcoming Events

The NJWLA, Together withThe Seton Hall Women’s Law Forum, Present


November 15th, 2013
8:30 am – 12:30 pm


Seton Hall Law School

Newark, NJ


Message from the President

Happy Fall! I hope you all had a wonderful summer and have settled into your Fall routines. In addition to immersing myself in my new role as NJWLA President, which has been really exciting (and busy), I had a milestone September. I sent my oldest daughter off to High School and my son off to Middle School. Fortunately, I still have a third grader who will keep me “in” elementary school for a few more years! Whether or not you sent kids back to school, September always evokes a sense of renewal. New beginnings … and endless possibilities.

At NJWLA, we are working hard on our own “possibilities” for the upcoming year. I want to thank all of our Board members and committee members for jumping in with both feet to help us make these possibilities a reality for our members. Of course, we also owe a huge thanks to our incredible Executive Director, Colleen Skinner, without whom nothing would be possible! Our theme for the year is women empowering women and, as I look at our plans for the upcoming year, we are definitely living that theme. Here are some of the ways you will see our theme coming through over the following year.

NJWLA will provide opportunities to network with, learn from and support our members. I want the NJWLA to continue to be a source of support and inspiration for the diverse membership we serve. That includes women who are brand new to the profession, as well as women who are trying to break into the partnership ranks at their law firm, considering striking out on their own, or who need help building a book of business. It also includes women who want to become judges, in-house attorneys or public servants. I want us to do our very best to encourage and to help these women achieve their goals because, in doing so, we advance our mission in the truest sense of the word.

Toward this end, I would like to see us take a more proactive approach toward networking and business development among our members. I have seen these referrals happening on an organic level, which are wonderful, but I am committed to doing more to formalize our networking and referral process and take it to the next level. One way we plan to facilitate these referrals is by updating our NJWLA website to make it easier to send business to other NJLWA members. By now, you should have received a request to update your membership information. It is especially important for you to provide us with your practice areas, as we will be using that information to populate our new “FIND A LAWYER” feature on the website. We also plan to use the website, as well as social medial, to highlight our members’ accomplishments. Our members are doing amazing things, both personally and professionally, and we want to share their achievements. Please send us your news so that we can showcase you on our website – which will have an upgraded “Member News” section – and through our social media channels on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. We will have more information about the launch date for our updated website shortly, so stay tuned!

We also are working on supporting our members’ various needs through some of our upcoming programming. The Young Lawyer’s Division hosted a panel on October 21, 2013, which brought together a panel of NJWLA Board members to share their tips about what young lawyers should be doing during the early years of practice to set themselves up for success. This program was an informative and candid exchange of ideas among our multiple generations of lawyers, and is a great example of our members helping to teach and empower one another. Similarly, the Solo/Small Firm Committee is launched an “Attorney Round Table” program this year, which will be a series of quarterly meetings for our solo/small firms to share ideas and strategies. The first Round Table was a breakfast meeting on October 23, 2013, with a focus on marketing strategies. Our own NJWLA marketing guru, Victoria Michals, graciously joined us at this kick-off event and shared her expertise with us.

NJWLA will help women lead. The Women’s Leadership Committee has put together an incredible panel for its “Women Rule!” program, which will take place on November 15, 2013 at Seton Hall Law School. SHU Law Professor extraordinaire, Paula Franzese, has graciously agreed to help us spearhead and participate in the program. In fact, it was Professor Franzese who approached us with the idea of bringing together women leaders in all areas of the legal profession: law firms, in-house, public service, the judiciary, and educational institutions, so that we can learn from their experiences and leadership styles. This is a do not miss event!

We also help our members learn to lead by serving as mentors – formally and informally – for our more junior members. I want us to continue to be a source of support for these young women so they do not give up or opt out of our profession. I want these women to know that you can do it all and I want us to help show them how. The Women’s Leadership Committee is working to enhance our formal Mentorship Program, by developing a tool kit for the participants to help strengthen these relationships and make them more meaningful. Additionally, we should all be looking for opportunities to informally mentor and support each other whenever possible.

NJWLA Will Work to Support and Foster Diversity. I also want to ensure that our organization continues its commitment to diversity and that all of our members know that their voices are strong, meaningful and vital to this organization. I want to see us escalate our efforts to build a more diverse membership and continue to promote and support diversity initiatives, including partnering with other specialty bars and organizing programming that is inclusive and tackles issues surrounding diversity. One of the ideas we would like to formalize this year is to create a “Diversity Coalition” among the diversity bar associations. We can use this as a platform to support each other’s efforts, partner on events, and share best practices with each other. We also want to do more outreach to young people and law students to ensure that the number of women coming into the profession continues to grow. The Board just voted to implement a student liaison program this year. Effective November 1st, we will have an NJWLA Liaison at each of the three New Jersey law schools. We will “introduce” our new Law Student Liaisons to everyone in the next issue of our newsletter.

NJWLA Will Give Back. Finally, the NJWLA will continue its commitment to support organizations and partners who are working to further our mission. We have decided to increase funding for our grants this year, and we will be implementing three new stipends for NJWLA mission-related research and activities being done at the various New Jersey law schools. We also will continue our tradition of offering scholarships to three female law students, who you will get to meet at our 7th Annual WILL Platinum Gala on March 25, 2014.

I am so proud and honored to have the opportunity to lead this amazing organization for the next year. I am humbled to be able to work with all of the incredibly talented, passionate and dedicated women who make up the NJWLA and I am so excited to see what we can accomplish together. I look forward to working with all of you this year … and to changing the world one empowered woman at a time!

Please continue to share your ideas, and thank you for your commitment to the women lawyers of New Jersey.

Suzanne Cerra

New Jersey Women Lawyers Association | 973-819-9488 | cskinner@njwla.org | http://www.njwla.org633 Franklin AvenuePMB #118

Nutley, NJ 07110

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