Diversity - Law Firms Gibbons Promotes Five Women To Director And Counsel Positions

Wednesday, February 1, 2006 - 01:00

Leading regional law firm makes history with elevation of full-time and part-time attorneys.

As women attorneys continue to face the challenge of balancing the demands of a successful legal career and a happy and healthy family life, many of today's leading law firms have acknowledged those challenges by providing realistic alternatives that give them the opportunity to juggle leadership positions and balanced lives.Gibbons, one of the region's leading law firms, made history this year with the elevation of five women attorneys, two of whom are part-time, to Director and Counsel positions within the firm. Jennifer Hradil, Lan Hoang, and part-time attorney Susan Nardone, all resident in the firm's Newark office, have been named Directors.Debra Clifford, resident in the Newark office, and part-time attorney Jennifer Gelshenen, resident in the New York office, have been named Counsel to the firm.

With options such as part-time hours, a formal mentoring program and an active Women's Initiative, Gibbons has made a strong commitment to developing and advancing its women attorneys.Gibbons maintains a strong presence of women within the management and executive levels of the firm.Currently, the firm has 22 women directors and counsel and 36 women associates.In addition, since 1997, the firm has supported the work of the Gibbons Women's Initiative, an important platform for new and seasoned women attorneys to participate side-by-side with colleagues from other practice areas and offices of the firm, and with firm clients and contacts.Clearly, the work of the Gibbons Women's Initiative has helped to increase the number of women in leadership positions within the firm.

"The promotion of these five outstanding attorneys is not only a testament to the firm's commitment to the advancement of women attorneys, but also demonstrates how important women and their contributions are to the overall success of this law firm." says Patrick C. Dunican, Jr., Managing Director of the firm."Jennifer, Lan, Susan, Debra and Jennifer, as well as all of our women attorneys, make our firm stronger and better because of their strong leadership, outstanding accomplishments and commitment to excellence."

The firm's 14 women directors and 7 women counsel hold important leadership positions at the firm, serve as mentors for younger women lawyers and have gained recognition for their professional and community achievements.Three of the firm's nine practice groups are headed by women and three women lawyers have been named by their peers among The Best Lawyers in America in their practice areas.In addition, the firm's Chief Operating Officer, Chief Information Officer, Director of Benefits, and Director of Marketing are all women.

The promotion of Susan Nardone and Jennifer Gelshenen showcases the opportunities and support available to part-time attorneys within the firm.The Gibbons "family-friendly" policy, which was implemented in 1997, encourages women to resume their legal careers after having children, and work first on a 60% basis of the hours expected of a full-time attorney per year, and later on an 80% basis of the hours expected of a full-time attorney per year.

"Gibbons is committed to supporting part-time attorneys at every level at the firm and providing the flexibility that is necessary when juggling the demands of work and family.Thepromotion of Susan Nardone to Director and Jennifer Gelshenen to Counsel clearly demonstrates the importance we place on helping women attorneys achieve their career goals while maintaining a healthy work/life balance," says Christine A. Amalfe, Chair of the Employment Law Department and Gibbons Women's Initiative Executive Council member."It is very important that we encourage talented women attorneys to stay in the practice of law and that we continue to develop ways to assist them in both their career and family endeavors.Clearly, Gibbons and our clients directly benefit from the involvement of talented and experienced women attorneys."

"Since beginning my career at the firm eight years ago, I have seen tremendous progress and growth for women attorneys at Gibbons.It feels good to know that our promotions are a significant contribution to the growth and development of women attorneys at the firm." says Jennifer Hradil, a member of the Business and Commercial Litigation Department and Co-Chair of the Gibbons Women's Initiative's Mentoring Committee.Ms. Hradil concentrates her practice in the areas of intellectual property, commercial litigation and securities.She is also involved in E-Discovery issues in litigation through her work as a member of the firm's Information Management and E-Discovery Counseling Team.

"I am very proud to have been part of this class of exceptional attorneys. Our elevation demonstrates the Gibbons commitment to elevating qualified and experienced attorneys, regardless of gender. The fact that we are all women reflects the continuing change in the business community as well as the legal community. Our promotions and the promotions that will follow are steps towards advancing the Gibbons commitment and the changing business/legal environment," says Lan Hoang.As a member of the Business and Commercial Litigation Department and practices in the areas of products liability and commercial litigation, Lan Hoang devotes a majority of her practice to complex commercial matters involving consumer fraud actions, mass tort actions, class actions, uniform commercial code matters, first and third party insurance policy claims, breach of restrictive covenants and non-compete/solicitation agreements, and medical device and pharmaceutical drug litigation.She is very excited her recent appointment and the change in the industry.

Debra Clifford is very proud of her recent promotion and happy to be an example for other women attorneys within the firm."It feels good to know women attorneys at the firm are inspired by the recent promotions.Because of our success, the opportunity for them to succeed within the firm has become a reality." Ms. Clifford is a member of the Business and Commercial Litigation Department and concentrates her practice in complex litigation matters.Ms. Clifford has experience defending a wide range of commercial matters, including contract claims and partnership disputes.Ms. Clifford has handled litigation in the state and federal courts in New York and New Jersey.In the insurance coverage area, Ms. Clifford has extensive experience in connection with insurance coverage disputes including coverage for liabilities arising out of pharmaceutical product defects.In this regard, she recently participated in an extended arbitration conducted pursuant to the English Arbitration Act relating to coverage for injuries associated with the use of a pharmaceutical product.

"The part-time policy at Gibbons provides flexibility to its women attorneys who, like me, are juggling a demanding career and family. The fact that I work a reduced schedule was not an impediment to my success here at Gibbons and demonstrates Gibbons' commitment to elevating qualified and committed attorneys without regard to their full- or part-time status," says Susan Nardone.She is a member of the Employment Law and Products Liability Departments.In the employment area, she primarily represents employers in defense of discrimination and harassment claims brought under both federal and state laws.Ms. Nardone also provides counseling to employers on all aspects of the employer-employee relationship.As a member of the Products Liability Department, she focuses on the defense of medical/surgical device manufacturers.

"This promotion really shows that we can have promising careers in the legal industry while maintaining a family.The possibilities are endless even as a part-timer." says Jennifer Gelshenen.She is a member of the Business and Commercial Litigation Department where she focuses on litigation and arbitration involving business disputes, corporate governance matters, business tort claims, restrictive covenants and securities transactions. Ms. Gelshenen represents individuals and corporations in the state and federal courts of New York and New Jersey on the trial and appellate levels.

Gibbons has shown its young women attorneys that there are many options ahead for them at a firm where all its attorneys are afforded opportunities for growth.