Winter 2015 Newsletter

In This Issue
Premier Event
Member News
In House Counsel Committee
Member Spotlight
Feature Article: The Importance of Mentorship
A Night With Helen Wan
Upcoming Events
Message From the President

Premier Event

8th Annual WILL Platinum Gala 

March 24th, 2015

5:30 pm – 9:30 pm 

The Grove  

Cedar Grove, NJ 

The NJWLA’s Women’s Initiative and Leaders in Law (WILL) Platinum Award is bestowed uponindividuals for their exceptional achievements, their sustained contributions to gender equity challenges and other issues unique to women in the legal profession.



Judicial Sector – Federal
Honorable Esther Salas
United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey

Judicial Sector – StateHonorable Barbara Byrd Wecker Judge, Appellate Division (Retired),Of Counsel, Greenberg Dauber Epstein & Tucker

Private Sector
Susan A. Feeney
Partner, McCarter & English,
NJSBA Past President

Corporate Sector
Michele C. Meyer-Shipp
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer,
Prudential Financial, Inc.

Public Sector
Honorable Grace H. Park
Union County Prosecutor

Trailblazer Award
Phoebe A. Haddon

Member News

NJWLA member,
Brett R. Harris, Esq., has been appointed to a newly-formed New Jersey Supreme Court Working Group on Ethical Issues Involving Metadata in Electronic Documents. Ms. Harris, a Business, Nonprofit and Technology Attorney, was selected to serve on the Working Group as the designee of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Executive Board Member,
Kirsten Scheurer Branigan, was a presenter on a program about advanced investigations entitled, “Advanced Investigations: What Am I Missing?” at the American Bar Association’s 8th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference in Los Angeles, California.

NJWLA Member, Barbara Weisman has been accepted to the NJ Federal District Court Panel of Mediators and has been recertified as an Agricultural Mediator for the New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee.

NJWLA Member, Jeralyn Lawrence,has been recognized by the NJ State Bar with her third Distinguished Legislative Service Award.

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 with any details you would like to be included in our next NJWLA newsletter


In-House Consel Committee

New Jersey Women Lawyers Association Announces the Creation of an In-House Counsel Committee

NJWLA is proud to announce the creation of an In-House Counsel Committee. In 2014 the In-House Counsel Committee was formed to address targeted issues and design programming specifically focused to the unique needs, trends and interests of attorneys in corporate practice – in all disciplines.

The In-House Counsel Committee welcomes women who are interested in sharing their ideas and experiences as members of corporate legal departments on a variety of issues.The In-House Committee, which is being led by NJWLA Board Members, Pamela Craven and Kristy Grazioso, will have specialized CLE programming, panel discussions and networking events. In addition, In-House Committee members will have the opportunity to participate in all broader programming sponsored by the NJWLA and other sub-committee groups.

The In-House Committee is open to all members of the New Jersey State Bar working in-house and/or attorneys admitted to other bars working in-house at New Jersey locations of companies or corporations regardless of where they are headquartered or incorporated. For membership information, and to join or if you are already an NJWLA member, and would like to be added to the In-House Counsel Committee, please email Colleen Skinner,

Member Spotlight

Do you want to be featured in our Member Spotlight Section?

Please submit your story and photo to for consideration.

February 2015

Featured Article

The Importance of Mentorship

By: Eman Ahmed-Fakhry
Ranbaxy Inc; Senior Legal Counsel & Corporate Secretary

The concept of mentorship and its crucial role in career development is usually first instilled in us during our academic years. Typically, a “mentor” is introduced in the form of an academic advisor or an established professor in your field of study who provides insight and advice on classes, internships, and even jobs that are designed to steer you along the right career path. After college/graduate school/law school, however, proper mentorship is not as easily provided and instead, must be diligently sought out and thoughtfully navigated in order to achieve the best rewards possible.

Some law firms and larger companies have formal mentorship programs, some of which are mandatory for entry-level attorneys. A new associate is assigned a “mentor” in the form of a senior associate, partner or supervisor, who is tasked with guiding the associate within the firm or company. For some, a mentor provides an opportunity to obtain unfiltered insight into the inner workings of the firm or company, receive valuable feedback regarding performance, discuss managing work/life balance within the organization, and even provide networking opportunities. Mentors also provide valuable advice on how to handle certain cases or working with other partners within the firm.

For others, however, the experience is not as fruitful. In instances where mentorship is considered an obligation on either or both of the parties involved, personality differences, scheduling difficulties and even apathy on either side often impede the process altogether. Where a mentoring relationship is forced, mentees might find it difficult to raise issues or concerns about the firm, and will likely refrain from discussing career advice, which might include the notion of switching to another firm or leaving the firm environment altogether and seeking an in-house position. For individuals who begin their legal careers outside the realm of law firms or bigger companies, a formal mentorship program is often not available.
Fortunately, formal mentorship opportunities are available for those who seek it outside their place of employment. Many local bar associations, as well as the New Jersey Women Lawyers’ Association and the National Association of Women Lawyers, also have formal mentorship opportunities for their members. The beauty of such programs is that both participants, the mentor and the mentee, volunteer for the role. One decidedly agrees to provide valuable insight to a more junior attorney and the other eagerly signs up to receive such assistance. The result is often two individuals who are committed to making their time together as productive and fruitful as possible.
For example, the NJWLA’s Mentorship Program designates attorneys with over ten (10) years’ experience to be mentors, and pairs them with mentee attorneys who have under ten (10) years’ experience. Mentors and mentees are matched based on area of law or area of interest. Mentors are asked to commit to the program for one year, meeting or conferencing with their respective mentees at least once a month. Mentors are provided a long list of guidelines from NJWLA on how to direct their interaction and overall mission in serving as a mentor. To date, the NJWLA’s Mentorship Program has facilitated approximately thirty successful (30) pairings.

Whether in a law firm or in-house, mentorship opportunities often present themselves outside of a traditional formal program and may provide the same or greater value as relationships credited through more formal channels. An informal mentor need not be someone within the legal field; he or she can be someone within a company or firm who can offer meaningful advice on career development and navigating successfully through the company culture and even bureaucracy. Such informal mentors can be invaluable resources, specifically because they are naturally and organically identified by the mentee. Those pairings, more often than not, are formed based on personality similarities and can lead to long lasting mentor/mentee relationships even after one individual leaves the company or firm.

Regardless of how the mentor/mentee relationship is formed, whether through formal or informal means, the benefit and longevity of such relationship remains primarily in the hands of the mentee. As a mentee, one is obligated to be focused on the goals he or she wishes to obtain as a result of the relationship and to be vigilant in maintaining communication in order to reach those goals. Even with a seemingly ambivalent mentor, a professional yet persistent mentee may still receive vital advice on career development that may last one’s whole career.

A Night With
Helen Wan

A Night With
Helen Wan

Iselin -In excess of 60 female attorneys gathered at the Hilton Woodbridge- Metro Park to enjoy “A Night with Helen Wan”, lawyer, speaker on women in the workplace, diversity and inclusion and author of The Partner Track. The Partner Track, Wan’s first novel, tells the story of a first-generation Chinese American lawyer who is about to become the first minority woman to make partner at a venerable, old law firm.

A networking cocktail reception was followed by a presentation by Wan in which she read an excerpt from her novel, discussed her tenure as a corporate associate at a large, national law firm and questioned audience members about their own experiences with workplace diversity and inclusion. The program concluded with an opportunity for all attendees to meet Wan and receive autographed copies of The Partner Track. The program’s Corporate Sponsors were Veritext Solutions and Jackson Lewis LLP.

Winter Holiday Party

December 5th, 2014
Hosted By Lowenstein Sandler
July 17, 2014

Cedar Hill Country Club

Livingston, New Jersey – Over 80 women attended the 3rd Annual Fore Ladies Only Golf Outing at the beautiful Cedar Hill Golf and Country Club. The event is co-sponsored by the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association and the Essex County Bar Foundation. Guests enjoyed a luncheon reception followed by a golf clinic with 9 holes or full 18 hole course, a cocktail and dinner reception along with raffles, prizes and giveaways.

Since its inception in 2011, The NJWLA & ECBF “Fore Ladies Only” Golf Outing and Clinic has always been more than a day of golf and networking. The attendees have enjoyed more than putting, driving, chipping and course etiquette. Each year, these female attorneys provide a deserving women’s organization with support, funding and a platform to express the organization’s story and mission.

This year’s awards reception included a presentation by Lauren Hout, a Legislative Liaison from the Displaced Homemakers Network of New Jersey. The DHN currently has 15 programs in place designed to assist women who have to re-enter the workforce for any number of reasons including divorce, separation, or death or disability of a spouse. DHN’s goal is to help its clients become economically self-sufficient by providing education, job readiness training, networking, outreach, referrals and emotional support. NJWLA and ECBF were able to present this year’s charitable partner with a donation and another room full of women eager to learn more about the organization and ways that they can work together.
NJWLA and ECBF are eager to work together to make the Fore Ladies Only Golf outing better each year and are extremely grateful to their sponsors and supporters for assisting in making this event such a great success each year.

Tales from the Bench Series

Much thanks to Greenberg Dauber Epstein & Tucker and Fox Rothschild for hosting our Tales From The Bench luncheons. A very special thank you from NJWLA to Justice Virginia Long and The Honorable Barbara Byrd Wecker for providing us with practical tips, informal conversation and warm hospitality during our luncheons. We appreciate your time, your honesty and your support of the women of NJWLA.
The informal nature and limited attendance of this luncheon is a perfect setting in which to pose questions to a member of the bench or gain insight on a particular issue.Please continue to check the NJWLA Facebook page for announcements and registration links if you are interested in attending a future luncheon!

Upcoming Events

Judicial Outreach Committee Presents:

A Night with Helen Wan

2015 Judicial Panel 

April 30, 2015  

4:00 pm – 6:30 pm 

MLK Federal Courthouse 

Newark, NJ

Nuts and Bolts of the Judicial and New Jersey State Appointments Process

April 15, 2015

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

The Law Center

New Brunswick, NJ



Golf Outing
4th Annual
“Fore Ladies Only”
Golf Outing and Clinic

May 21, 2015
Cedar Hill Country Club
Livingston, NJ

Message from the President
Randi Kochman
Cole Schotz P.C.

Wishing you all a warm and happy winter! At NJWLA, snow and ice do not slow us down and we have been busy working to improve the lives of women lawyers in our State. I hope you have all had a chance to sample and enjoy some of our programs and learn of all we have to offer.

In November, we enjoyed a relaxing and inspiring “Night with Helen Wan.” Helen shared her experiences navigating large firm politics as a minority woman. She was candid and charming in her remarks and in describing the process of publishing her story. This evening, which we proudly co-sponsored with APALA-NJ and HBA-NJ, was quite special.

Our Young Lawyers Committee has continued its invaluable programming geared toward young women attorneys. In November, the Committee hosted “Building the Confident Lawyer,” during which our more senior lawyers mentored and guided younger lawyers on the topics of building confidence, navigating firm and corporate politics and developing as a professional. In my opinion, these mentoring events are especially rewarding as the essence of NJWLA is how we support and learn from each other. Thank you to our host Norris McLaughlin & Marcus.

Our Solo/Small Firm Committee also hosted a group meeting in October 2014, which focused on “Harvesting Helpful Branding Techniques.” This group is a unique and critical resource for all small firm professionals out there. Don’t miss out!

As always, we ended the year with a warm and charitable Holiday Party hosted by Lowenstein Sandler. We shared holiday cheer while also raising funds for a very worthwhile charity, the Essex County Family Justice Center, which provides crucial, lifesaving resources for domestic violence victims.

In January, our Judicial Outreach Committee offered its second “Tales From the Bench,” featuring Judge Barbara Byrd Wecker (retired, Appellate Division). During an intimate lunch, we learned about Judge Wecker’s career and challenges and gained insights into the legal profession, both then and now. We are so grateful of Judge Wecker’s time and willingness to share her experiences and thank our Judicial Committee for its recent development of this extraordinary series.

Our Women’s Leadership Committee was very excited to offer our first-ever Rainmakers Summit on February 24, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Park Avenue Club. We offered two panels, one featuring New Jersey rainmakers who described how they came to develop client relationships and sizable books of business. Our second panel featured “clients,” who provided valuable insight and strategies on securing business. This summit was exceptional.

NJWLA remains committed to diversity events. On February 17, 2015 we joined with our sister and brother diversity bar associations and co-hosted the NJSBA Diversity Summit held at the New Jersey Law Center. On March 7, 2015 we are proud to sponsor the 2015 Women’s Empowerment Leadership & Law Conference hosted by the HBA, HBA-NJ and Association of Latin American Law Students. This program furthers the core of our mission by providing guidance and inspiration to young New Jersey women in the areas of leadership and law.

Of course, we are busy putting the final touches on our 2015 Signature GALA, to be held at The Grove in Cedar Grove, New Jersey on March 24, 2015 beginning at 5:30 p.m. This year we are thrilled to recognize The Honorable Esther Salas, The Honorable Barbara Byrd Wecker (retired), The Honorable Grace H. Park, Michelle C. Meyer-Shipp, Susan Feeney, and Chancellor Phoebe A. Haddon. The Honorable Madeline Cox Arleo will once again serve as our Mistress of Ceremonies. This sold-out event continues to attract judges and practitioners alike as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of women in the Judicial, Law Firm, Corporate, and Public Sectors, of which we are so proud.

Finally, NJWLA is thrilled to announce the launch of our In-House Committee, co-chaired by Board members Pamela Craven and Kristy Grazioso. This Committee is knee deep developing programming to serve the unique needs of the in-house community. Please spread the word about this Committee as we know it will be a tremendous gift to the in-house population.

I would like to sincerely thank our dedicated Board Members and amazing Executive Director, Colleen Skinner, for everyone’s hard work, energy and dedication. Together, we offer so much to New Jersey’s women lawyers! I hope you will take advantage of our programs and resources and look forward to seeing you all soon.

New Jersey Women Lawyers Association | 973-819-9488 | | http://www.njwla.org633 Franklin AvenuePMB #118Nutley, NJ 07110

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