The women attorneys at Steptoe & Johnson LLP are more than names, job descriptions, and professional biographies. Each has a unique story. With their permission, we share some of them below.
Steptoe has had strong women leadership for decades. The firm's leadership in hiring talented women initially attracted me to join Steptoe as an entering associate. I was impressed by and am grateful for the unequivocal and empowering message of equality of opportunity that leaders in the firm established. Upon my return to the firm after a number of years of government service, I felt it my obligation to give back to others in the firm the support and guidance that the leaders of the firm had provided to me.
Susan Esserman, Partner, Co-Chair of the Steptoe Women’s Forum,
International Department Chair, Steptoe & Johnson LLP
I joined Steptoe as a lateral lawyer several years ago after practicing corporate law with another big firm. At the time, I was thinking about starting a family and I looked around for role models. It was evident that I couldn't be the parent I wanted to be if I continued there. I now have three children—a three-year old and nine-month old twins. Steptoe partners worked with me to develop and implement a plan that allowed me to take six months off and come back to an 80% schedule while still engaging in important client work. Here I am developing into an international trade lawyer, which has further enriched my career.
Alexandra Baj, Of Counsel, Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Coming up through the ranks, I benefited from wonderful mentoring from more senior lawyers, both men and women, who cared about both my professional development and personal well-being. Now a partner myself and the mother of two young daughters, I work hard to provide the same support to the more junior lawyers, particularly women and parents of young children. I hope that my career provides an example that it is possible to be deeply committed to client work, active in firm leadership roles, and achieve a sustainable balance between rewarding work and family commitments.
Jennifer Quinn-Barabanov, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP
As a career-oriented, working mother of four, I can tell you that navigating the work/home balance is never easy. I left and re-entered this firm when family demands warranted, requiring a change in my status. Firm leadership demonstrated to me that they valued my skill set and valued me. My Steptoe mentors, both men and women, listened. We worked together to create customized work arrangements that gave me client contact and that also offered me opportunities to keep up with the substantive knowledge required to be an outstanding international regulatory compliance lawyer. I recently returned to an 80% schedule and was named Counsel shortly after. The industry is still trying to map out how to evolve. But, I am part of that evolution and Steptoe is willing to do the hard work to meet me on the path.
Julia Court Ryan, Counsel, Steptoe & Johnson LLP
I am a home-grown member of this firm even though I left the practice for several years to serve in two senior policy positions at the National Institutes of Health. When I chose to return to Steptoe, I was a single mother raising two children. The firm welcomed me with open arms, supporting and accommodating my childcare needs amidst the demands of an active litigation practice. Now, as the firm’s first Chief Diversity Partner, I serve alongside equally dedicated professionals who know our inclusiveness brings creativity, productivity, and efficiency to the excellent service we provide our clients. Diversity and inclusion remain core Steptoe values, along with our collegiality.
Sandy Chamblee, Litigator and Chief Diversity Partner,
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
As an associate lawyer in a big firm, you don’t always get to choose the projects and cases on which you work. Not true at Steptoe. Here I have a voice. I express my opinions; my suggestions are received and considered. I have sought out challenging matters and my mentor has worked quickly and diligently to shift assignments to offer me access to the type of cases and clients that excite me. Last year I rotated off the firm's Hiring Committee. I currently serve as Associate Co-chair of the firm's Diversity Committee and am a member of our Retention and Advancement Subcommittee. I get face-time with Steptoe's leadership and am an active participant in my career development. It’s very empowering.
Erica Gerson, Associate, Steptoe & Johnson LLP