Women's Stories 

The women attorneys at Steptoe 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

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

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

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, Partner, Chief Diversity Partner

I joined Steptoe as an associate 8 years ago and have appreciated the firm’s culture of inclusiveness, and I have benefited greatly from it.  At Steptoe, all attorneys have a voice.  I express my opinions; my suggestions are received and considered.  I get face-time with Steptoe's leadership through work on significant matters for our clients and service on firm committees including the Diversity Committee and the Hiring Committee.

Erica Gerson, Of Counsel