Editor's note: This story was originally featured in the January issue of DS News, out now.
In the January issue of DS News, we were proud to introduce our section on 25 women lawyers who have made their marks in the legal industry. From breaking through the glass ceiling to fighting for the rights of their clients, these formidable women have ensured the success of their individual firms and the industry through their skills and can-do attitudes. They are mentors and role models for a younger generation that admires them, learns from their fights, and is influenced by their positive approach towards creating a work-life balance.
In this third installment, we profile get to know more about what inspired these women to become lawyers, their views on the current state of the industry, what it’s like to be a woman in law, and what qualifies these women as being among some of the finest minds in the legal and financial services industries.
Senior Executive Counsel, Orlans PC
Orlans PC is the largest WBENC-certified women-owned law firm in America and Julie Moran, Orlans’ Senior Executive Counsel, is proud to have been a part of its creation, in addition to founding a professsional women’s organization. “Twenty years ago, I was only one of two women managing partners in a Boston-based law firm . . . [Today] I continue to focus on removing obstacles that stifle women’s advancement,” said Moran. Despite the strides women have made in the industry, there are still obstacles to overcome. “While hiring practices to attract more women candidates have improved, we continue to falter in providing the mentoring, career paths, and advancement opportunities women need to succeed,” said Moran. Among her career highlights, Moran cites being appointed to the Massachusetts Homeownership Advisory Committee by the Governor in recognition of her advocacy for homeownership. Navigating federal and state laws is a crucial part of Moran’s job, and making sure her clients are compliant is one of the most rewarding parts as well. “I truly enjoy taking the most challenging regulatory schemes and working alongside our clients to help create legally compliant documents and processes,” said Moran. Among the challenges the industry will see in 2018 is navigating accelerated state enforcement actions impacting compliance and process efficiency, Moran predicted.
Managing Partner, Gross Polowy, PLC
In her 13 years of practicing law, Amy Polowy is most proud of starting her own firm six years ago in New York with her business partner, Adam Gross. “At Gross Polowy, we have assembled a talented, hardworking team that’s committed to steadily growing the firm on the basis of its integrity. We have taken great care to build a reputation of quality, thought leadership, and client service, striving not to be the biggest but to be the best in New York,” Polowy said. The most professionally invigorating part of Polowy’s work happens while addressing difficult challenges brought to the firm by its clients who’ve sought Gross Polowy out to curate solutions that best serve their businesses. “Seeking the firm’s guidance displays our clients confidence in our abilities,” Polowy said. Polowy’s tried-and true-method of aligning client and law firm processes to create the best business exchange possible has proven a success for the firm. “Law firms in our industry should be flexible enough to adjust processes accurately and swiftly to meet the needs of the changing legal landscape and the pressure put on mortgage servicers,” Polowy said. When sharing her views on work-life balance in the industry, Polowy said, “The biggest challenge for any lawyer is keep ing a good work-life balance in a world where technology enables you to remain connected and client relationships are constantly visible via social media. It can be both a blessing and a curse.”
DIANE S. ROSENBERG
Owner and Managing Partner, Rosenberg & Associates, LLC
When she first started her firm 15 years ago, it was common for Diane S. Rosenberg to be the sole, woman-owned business leader attending industry events. Rosenberg recalled that she often found it intimidating and challenging to prove her validity. However, she pushed through these challenges and today, utilizes her 26 years of industry experience and knowledge for her clients’ benefit. “My combined degrees in business, marketing, and law helped to build the foundation of my law firm and prepare for the ongoing challenges that my firm encounters,” said Rosenberg. Day to day, she continues to strengthen her team by making internal training a priority. “Having a well-trained workforce fosters educated, engaged, challenged, and flexible employees who have the ability to handle multiple and ongoing changes in the work environment,” Rosenberg explained. One of the most enriching parts of Rosenberg’s job as Owner and Managing Partner of Rosenberg & Associates is corroborating with her legal team to resolve difficult legal issues and presenting ‘outside-thebox’ solutions to her clients. “It is imperative that lenders and servicers present all documentation, information, and goals upfront and that they maintain open communications with their attorneys,” said Rosenberg.
HOLLY R. SHILLIDAY
Managing Partner—Colorado Office, McCarthy Holthus LLP
As Managing Partner of McCarthy Holthus’ Colorado office, Holly R. Shilliday enjoys mentoring the firm’s attorneys and watching them reach their full potential. “I encourage the attorneys to write articles, give continuing legal education presentations, and try new assignments to develop their legal skills. My goal is to help newer attorneys be well rounded in their professional development,” said Shilliday. A 1992 graduate of Pepperdine School of Law, Shilliday says she first went to law school to help her parents who are both small business owners. McCarthy Holthus has a reputation as a compliance-driven firm. In order to help the firm prepare for today’s challenging legal landscape, Shilliday makes sure to study new cases and legislation that affect the mortgage industry and works with the firm’s Risk Management and Compliance Group to develop forms and implement changes. She is a Member of the Council of Advisors on Consumer Credit and the Chair of the Financial Institutions Section of the Business Law Committee for the Colorado Bar Association. Her participation in these groups ensures she is up to speed on the latest developments in her areas of practice. Shilliday and the attorneys in her office set aside time to have fun as well—the office has an annual hike, plans healthy potluck lunches, and adopts a family in need during the holiday season.
Attorney, Campbell & Brannon, LLC
Laura Suggs became interested in becoming a practicing attorney when she was a paralegal at an insurance defense firm after college, where she was able to work first-hand with a team of excellent lawyers. She is thankful to report that she has faced few, if any, challenges in the legal field due to her gender. “I believe this is largely due to firms like Campbell & Brannon, LLC that have strong female partners and role models paving the road before me,” said Suggs. Suggs finds she is most rewarded in her career when she takes on a complicated issue with budget and time constraints,and resolves it to the client’s satisfaction. “Recently, I represented a local nonprofit that serves thousands of people in the metro-Atlanta area in a lawsuit. We were fighting to keep the pantry and food storage open to the public. After we won, the nonprofit recognized me at their annual meeting, presenting me with an award for performing outstanding legal services. Being able to help a group that helps so many others was one of most fulfilling moments in my career,” said Suggs. Suggs believes that at its core the law is a service industry, noting that at Campbell & Brannon, “Placing the focus on ensuring that we consistently communicate with our clients about their needs helps us meet and exceed our clients’ expectations.”
Senior Partner/Owner, Tromberg Law Group, P.A.
Having wanted to be a lawyer since she was 10 years old, one of the highlights of Andrea Tromberg’s career has been the purchase of her law firm. “After 21 years of practice, and eight years with the firm, it was time to decide whether to continue as is, move on, or make the frightening and bold decision to take a risk and buy out the partner. I took the leap, and I am especially proud of my courage to make it happen,” said Tromberg. As firm owner, she enjoys seeing attorneys who started with her firm advance to trying contesting cases, knowing that the firm made a positive difference in their careers. As a female in the industry, she has learned that it’s important to find alternative means to make connections. “When the top decision makers are shaking hands on the golf course, or at the bar watching sports while drinking beer, I find it a challenge to keep up. I’ve had to improve my ability to strike up a conversation, find alternative ways to gain attention, and push harder to have good legal work go noticed by decision makers,” said Tromberg. In 2018, Tromberg and the attorneys at her firm look forward to continuing to help educate lenders and servicers on best practices to avoid issues when cases are filed.
PHYLLIS A. ULRICH
Shareholder, Carlisle Law
Throughout her career, Phyllis A. Ulrich has been proud to break barriers—whether it was being named an Equity Shareholder in Carlisle Law after only six years at the firm or representing creditors in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy cases at a time when few women were doing so in her area. To overcome the challenges this presented, Ulrich noted that she “made sure I knew the law surrounding my client’s position well and that confidence enabled me to avoid most challenges presented to me in a nondiverse courtroom setting.” With 26 years of practice experience, Ulrich finds the most enriching part of her job being able to still represent her clients zealously. “I have the ability to negotiate and resolve matters that benefit not only my clients but also the borrower,” said Ulrich. In her role, Ulrich also brings this attitude to guiding the firm’s staff and has helped them meet the industry’s challenges by reminding them to “keep an open dialogue with the courts and borrower/debtor bar, which can enable a much smoother practice and provide for an easy transition through any major change in the law or practice.”
You can read the rest of the "Women in Law" feature in the January 2018 issue of DS News magazine, available by clicking here.