Spring/Summer 2013

In This IssueNJWLA Leaders Among Top Lawyers In NJ

Members on the Move

Feature Article: Making the Transition to an In-House Position

6th Annual Gala Achieves Record-Breaking Attendance

NJWLA Congratulates Honorable Patty Shwartz

Upcoming Events

Message From the President

2013 NJWLA Grant Recipients

Member Spotlight

The Leaders of the NJWLA are Among the Top Lawyers in New Jersey

Lynne A. Anderson
Committee Director, Grants/Charitable Giving

The Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA, Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, New Jersey Super Lawyers, Top 50 Women Lawyers

Nicole D. Bearce

Committee Director, Best Practices

Chambers USA, Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, New Jersey Super Lawyers

Lynda A. Bennett

Committee Director, Endorsements

The Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA, New Jersey Super Lawyers, Top 50 Women Lawyers & Top 100 Lawyers

Heather R. Boshak,

Committee Director, Judicial Outreach

New Jersey Super Lawyers

Suzanne Cerra

President Elect

Chambers USA, New Jersey Commission on Professionalism Award, New Jersey Super Lawyers, Top 50 Women Lawyers & Top 100 Lawyers

Michellene Davis

Trustee At Large

Top 50 People in Healthcare in NJ by NJBIZ, Executive Women of New Jersey, Salute to Policymakers Award, Stand and Deliver Dr. MLK Jr., Leadership Award, New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP Distinguished Legal Professional Award, National Council of 100 Black Women Trailblazer Award for Public Advocacy, Essex County Coretta Scott King Leadership Award

Carmen Garcia

Chief Diversity Officer

Gubernatorial Appointment to the Council on Interstate Juvenile Supervision, New Jersey Women’s Hall of Fame, ALIANZA (Latin American Law Students Alliance at Rutgers Camden), Carmen M. Garcia Bright Futures Scholarship

Theresa Donahue Egler

Committee Director, Corporate Relations

The Best Lawyers in America

Kathleen Barnett


Committee Director, Programming

NJBIZ Best 50 Women in Business

Michele Haas

Committee Director, Best Practices

New Jersey Super Lawyers

Linda Harvey


The Best Lawyers in America, New Jersey Super Lawyers, New York’s Women Leaders in the Law

Galit Kierkut


The Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA, New Jersey Super Lawyers, New Jersey Women Lawyers Association, Kirsten Scheurer Branigan Presidential Leadership Award

Loryn Lawson

Committee Director, Membership

New Jersey Super Lawyers, Rising Stars

Wendy Johnson Lario

Immediate Past President

The Best Lawyers in America, Executive Women of New Jersey Salute to the Policymakers Award, NJBIZ Best 50 Women in Business, New Jersey Super Lawyers, Chambers USA, New Jersey Women Lawyers Association

Randi Kochman

Vice President

New Jersey Super Lawyers

Susan O’Connor

General Counsel

Legal 100 Award, New Jersey Super Lawyers, Litigation Counsel of America

Loren Pierce

Committee Director, Corporate Relations

The Best Lawyers in America, New Jersey Super Lawyers

Stefani C. Schwartz

Committee Director, Judicial Outreach

NJBIZ Best 50 Women in Business, New Jersey Super Lawyers

Annmarie Simeone

Committee Director, WILL Platinum Gala

Somerset County Commission on Women, Outstanding Woman in the Law Award

Kristin Sostowski

Trustee At Large

New Jersey Super Lawyers, Rising Stars

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

Members on the Move

Christine Bator

has been elected to the
Republican State Committee.

Jessica Allen is now at the Office of the Attorney General

Laurie Poulos recently started a position at New York Life Insurance Company

Karen Wachs recently joined
Schwartz, Simon, Edelstein & Celso.

Osato Chitou recently became the Director of Regulatory Affairs at Carepoint Health Plans.

Tell us about your new position!

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

June 28, 2013

Featured Article

Making the Transition to an In-House Position

By Melissa A. Peters

As a legal recruiter, I focus exclusively on the permanent placement of attorneys in both law firm and in-house settings. In short, I speak to lawyers at varying levels every day all day! During those conversations, I often hear lawyers express their desire to “go in-house”. The in-house market is extremely competitive and female lawyers need a competitive advantage, so how do you go about actually securing the right in-house position?

1. Keep yourself informed about the market.

The right job at the right company that fits your background, experience, and interest is hard to find and can take ample time. Therefore, start listening to options now! I do not suggest mass-mailing your resume to a bunch of companies and recruiters; but rather, read about the marketplace of interest to you, and talk with recruiters that are well-connected to that in-house world. Visit www.goinhouse.com regularly to get an idea about the types of opportunities that are publicly advertised. There is nothing wrong with “seeing” what is out there – the decision whether to actually explore an opportunity is a decision you can make later on, after you have a sense of the marketplace.

2. Determine your industry of interest and target it.

The importance of determining your own interest level in a specific business/industry cannot be overstated. If you are a litigator, but have zero interest in the energy sector, then applying to that job at a well-known energy company may not be the best use of your time. I understand that you want to “go in-house” but it has to be somewhat targeted and connected to your interest and experience. This point really comes to light in interviews. Frequently, an Associate General Counsel or the General Counsel himself/herself will ask you why you want to join his/her company. When you answer too generically with “My goal has always been to go in-house” or “I really see myself contributing to a company”, it does not effectively convey that you are the best candidate for the position. If you truly have an interest or experience with the industry, it is more effective, and ultimately can lead to a better fit for you! So if you are just starting to think about going to a company, take some time to determine the industry that excites you – the one that you can authentically envision yourself working in for the next several years.

3. Seek out opportunities for experience with that industry of interest.

Once you have determined the industry that interests you, make sure you currently have or seek to gain relevant experience. If you are a corporate lawyer looking to go in-house, you will likely need to gain some experience with securities regulation, so seek out projects that will expose you to the Securities Exchange Acts of 1933 and 1934. If you are a litigator looking for an in-house position, you will likely need some management experience, including managing junior attorneys and paralegals and/or managing large-scale litigation. Try to seek out projects that will give you some exposure to those skills so that you can position yourself for the transition. Make sure that you represent that industry experience on your resume. If the in-house position you want involves “corporate governance experience”, be sure to highlight that experience clearly on your resume. Make it an easily visible bullet point or section on your resume with the phrase “corporate governance” in it, and then expand upon it, explaining all of your experience within that realm. Do not make the company and/or the recruiter search for that experience on your resume – make it clearly stated, concisely described with examples, and using the industry jargon.

4. Maintain realistic expectations about salary.

Do not let the proffered salary range of an in-house position dictate your interest at the preliminary stages of exploring an opportunity. The way law firms compensate you is often very different than the compensation packages offered at companies. If, for example, you are a partner at a large law firm right now, you might be earning a significant base salary plus bonus (which is usually somehow tied to your originations). At a company, you might be looking at a base salary that is lower than your current base salary; however, the target bonus can be significant. Overall, the compensation package at a company may equal or exceed your current income, but you have to consider the total compensation package. Try not to make a quick decision just by comparing current law firm base salary to prospective company base salary. Also, remember that stock options may be part of the package immediately or down the line.

5. Do not be misled by the title of the in-house position.

Recently, I had a conversation with a well-established law firm partner at a national firm, and he expressed his desire to “go in-house”. He told me that he had interviewed for an in-house position awhile ago, but the title was too “junior” for his level, so he decided against it. He knew himself well enough to know that taking that position would feel like a step down in his career. That is a salient point to consider – is title a big issue for you? Consider that and know your feelings about title, but also understand that in-house titles can vary widely from organization to organization. One company may have a “Corporate Counsel” opening that is a fairly “junior” position, whereas another company may have that position report directly to the General Counsel. A lot of that depends on the size of the organization and more importantly, the size of the legal team within the organization. Find out as much as you can about the organizational hierarchy of the legal team and company to help educate your interest in the position.

6. Determine if the in-house opportunity aligns with your motivation to go in-house.

More and more female lawyers are looking at in-house opportunities – the chance to put their legal skills to use in a business setting. Some women lawyers are motivated to go in-house because they truly see themselves as leaders of business. Others are understandably motivated by the idea that the in-house setting will provide them with more predictability/flexibility in their schedules. Regardless of your motivation, be honest with yourself! There is no shame in admitting that you want more predictable hours; but then you have to make sure that the in-house opportunity you are pursuing will offer that. For example, I recently placed a female lawyer in-house at a large, public company where the hours are clearly 9am-5pm; she took a large paycut from her job at a well-known Manhattan law firm for that reduction in hours. The company was clear about the schedule and she was honest with herself about her motivation which, in turn, enabled her to land that position and accept the paycut. On the other hand, I was recently talking with a high-level female in-house counsel at a well-known New Jersey company and she aptly stated that joining her company “is NOT a lifestyle change”. Do not make the erroneous assumption that in-house equals fewer hours! It completely depends upon the company, the industry, the level of the position, and the people with whom you are working. Do your research and ask tough, smart questions in an interview so that you can ascertain the type of work environment it provides. More than anything, be true to yourself about your motivation and do not apologize for wanting “fewer” or more “regular” hours – just understand that you may take a paycut for that, and that you will need to be very discerning when looking at in-house opportunities

7.Decide about relocation.

Take stock of your current situation and decide whether you are willing to relocate for the right in-house position. That is a question that I always ask my candidates who are interested in transitioning to a company – are you willing to relocate? If so, how far are you willing to relocate? If the company does not provide relocation assistance, are you willing to cover the cost on your own? It is never too soon to start thinking about those answers, so that you can really make your in-house search targeted and realistic.

8. Manage your own frustration level!

Understand that making the transition to the right in-house opportunity may take time and patience; more than you might think! Of course, there are always anecdotal examples of your co-worker who was directly poached by his/her client, and landed a great in-house job in record time. That is most certainly the exception, not the rule, so set realistic expectations about this transition. Typically, the frustration that lawyers feel about trying to make this transition is not that they are going on various interviews and not getting the job, but rather that there are not ample opportunities that fit their skill sets. Waiting for the right opportunity to come to you will only add to your frustration, whereas taking an active and targeted approach will increase your chance of success. Making the transition from a law firm to a company can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. That is why being proactive about your transition, determining your industry of interest, and partnering with a knowledgeable recruiter will all help you to ultimately identify and attain the right in-house position.

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

NJWLA 6th Annual WILL Platinum Gala Achieves Record-Breaking Attendance

Approximately 650 accomplished attorneys and elite leaders of the bench and bar of New Jersey attended the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association’s 6th Annual Women’s Initiative and Leaders in Law (WILL) Platinum Gala at The Grove in Cedar Grove on Wednesday, March 20th. The NJWLA awarded six exceptional leaders of the bench and bar with the WILL Platinum Award, an honor bestowed upon individuals for their outstanding achievements in the legal profession and their sustained contributions to gender equity challenges and other issues unique to women in the legal profession. This year’s award recipients were the Honorable Judith Wizmur, former Chief Judge and current Judge of the US Bankruptcy Court, Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, Associate Justice of the NJ Supreme Court of New Jersey, the Honorable Jennifer Velez, Commissioner of the NJ Department of Human Services, Lucinda Long, Esq., Senior VP and General Counsel of Valley National Bank, Lynda Bennett, Esq., NJWLA Past President and Member, Lowenstein Sandler, LLP and Frances V. Bouchoux, Esq., Associate Dean of Rutgers Law School, Newark Campus, who was presented with the 2013 Trailblazer Award. The Honorable Madeline Cox Arleo served as the Mistress of Ceremonies, and NJWLA President Galit Kierkut and President-Elect Suzanne Cerra discussed NJWLA’s accomplishments over the last year and goals for next year. The Keynote address was delivered this year by Former White House Press Secretary, and Author of Why Women Should Rule the World, Dee Dee Myers. Ms. Myers highlighted the benefits of bringing women into the conversation, the unique perspective that women provide and the contributions that women make in the workplace. She also discussed why organizations like NJWLA were still relevant to help shape the future of women lawyers and assist them on their pathway to leadership and success.

NJWLA Congratulates the
Honorable Patty Shwartz

The New Jersey Women Lawyers Association is thrilled to congratulate the Honorable Patty Shwartz on her approved elevation to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The NJWLA is very proud to have supported President Obama’s October 2011 nomination of Judge Shwartz for the Third Circuit vacancy created by Judge Maryann Trump Barry’s transition to senior status. As the NJWLA advised Senator Menendez last year in an attempt to change his position on supporting her nomination, since becoming a Magistrate Judge in 2003, Judge Shwartz has issued opinions in connection with all aspects of pretrial matters and presided over a number of trials. She has handled thousands of cases, both civil and criminal, and scores of litigants have consented to her trying their cases. In addition, Judge Shwartz has an exceptional judicial temperament and has demonstrated that she is a thoughtful, smart and practical judge. Her experience on the bench, coupled with her background in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, make her eminently suited for the appellate position. The NJWLA was happy to then be able to congratulate Senator Menendez when he reversed his prior position and endorsed Judge Shwartz. The NJWLA further supported Judge Shwartz by writing to the Senate Judiciary Committee in advance of her confirmation hearing. The NJWLA applauds the fact that qualified women like Judge Shwartz are being elevated to the Third Circuit bench and remains hopeful that there will be a continued increase of representation of women on the federal bench. The NJWLA is an independent bar association with over 1,000 members committed to the advancement and promotion of qualified women to the highest levels of the legal profession. The NJWLA is also active in the judicial appointment process and has successfully endorsed several candidates for the federal and state judiciary.

Upcoming Events

NJWLA & ECBF Present

Annual Fore Ladies Only!
Golf Outing & Clinic

Monday, July 29th
Cedar Hill Golf and Country Club

Livingston, NJ


National Association of Women Lawyers

2013 Annual Meeting & Awards Luncheon

Thursday, July 25th
The Waldorf Astoria
New York


** NJWLA members will receive a 10% discount when registering for this event. Please use the following code when registering:


Message from the President

As my year as President comes to a close, I reflect on all of our accomplishments in the past year, and I am very proud of the NJWLA. When our new Board was installed last July in a beautiful ceremony, I dubbed this year the “Year of Women’s Leadership,” and many of our programs and initiatives have been focused on this very important theme.

While our wonderful, sold out Gala, with Dee Dee Myers as the inspirational keynote speaker, and our wonderful honorees are the best examples of how to achieve positions of leadership, we also wove this theme into our programming this year as well. In November we heard from Bonnie St. John and her teenage daughter Darcy Deane, who spoke to a packed audience about their book, “How Great Women Lead.” Bonnie and Darcy embarked on this project when Darcy started discussing “opting out” of the career driven choices her mother and other women leaders of that ilk had made. Bonnie wanted to show her daughter how many different ways there were to lead, and so encourage her to find her own way. Many of our young lawyers and even some of our teenage daughters joined us and were inspired by Bonnie and Darcy’s journey.

We then further explored leadership themes in conjunction with the New Jersey Association of Corporate Counsel, in our first joint program. A panel of inspiring women leaders, including several of our Board members, spoke about their paths to leadership roles in corporations, law firms, and government. One of the themes discussed by this panel was the role that mentorship plays in achieving leadership. Our ever popular judicial panel in April, not only gave us wonderful tips on how to get into the courtroom and first chair trials, which will necessarily open leadership positions for litigators, but themselves were examples of wonderful leadership abilities, and we were thrilled that Judge Patti Shwartz, who we supported in her confirmation process for the Third Circuit, had been approved for that position shortly before our program!

I am also very proud that our Women’s Leadership Committee launched our formal mentoring program this spring, and we already have paired numerous mentors and mentees. Our Young Lawyers Committee built upon this theme as well, and hosted a program that brought together our younger lawyers with our more experienced Board Members, who then together explored the paths to leadership and success and how obstacles can be overcome.

I believe that effective leadership cannot exist without empowering others to lead, and without collaboration. It was my goal to incorporate both of those leadership styles into my President year, by empowering our committee leaders to build their committees and undertake to accomplish their missions, as well as to work together as a collaborative team, not just within the organization, but with the other specialty bars, county bars and the State Bar of New Jersey and we have made great strides to achieving that goal. I thank our Board members for all of their hard work this year – I could not have done this without them!

I am also very proud that after a number of years of planning, our Grant Committee has effectuated our goal of collaborating with worthy organizations, both New Jersey based and national, by awarding $30,000 in grants for work that is consistent with our mission. These grants enhance our giving program that began with our law school scholarships, which have also been increased this year, and continued with our partnering with charities for much of our programming. We look forward to welcoming the recipients at next year’s Gala and hearing about how these funds were well allocated.

I thank all of the members for attending the programs we held this year, getting involved in our committees, and signing up for our mentoring program. Please continue to get involved in the coming year as we need each and every one of you! I very much enjoyed leading this organization and know that I leave the NJWLA in the best of hands as I turn the leadership over to Suzanne Cerra, whose term begins July 1. Please support her as you have me!

Thank you all!

Galit Kierkut

2013 NJWLA
Grant Recipients

NJWLA is proud to announce the recipients of its inaugural Grant Program which granted $30,000 to the following:

The National Association of Women Lawyers

The Alice Paul Institute

The National Association of Women Judges


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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