Another BigLaw Firm Sets Milestone for Female Legal Leaders and Diversity & Inclusion

Legal leader and Lawfuel law star Belinda Schwartz

In a signature move to further enhance the role to improve profile of women legal leaders, another big law firm has announced a woman as its Executive Chair.

New York-based Herrick, Feinstein LLP has recently announced the appointment of Belinda G. Schwartz as the new Executive Chair of the firm. Schwartz, who has been with the firm for over 25 years, will also lead the Executive Committee.

Schwartz’s appointment is a significant milestone for the firm, as female leaders currently account for only 10% of Am Law 200 chairs and managing partners. She is now one of the few women in the country leading a major law firm. Schwartz will also continue to lead Herrick’s Real Estate Department, which is known for its exceptional work in the field.

With a career spanning over 30 years in New York City’s commercial real estate market, Schwartz has had a number of “firsts” throughout her career. She is the first female Chair of the firm, the first female member of Herrick’s five-person Executive Committee, and one of the only women in the country to chair a major commercial real estate practice.

Schwartz is highly regarded in her field and has received numerous prestigious accolades from legal, business, and real estate outlets. Clients describe her as “the ultimate deal-maker” and rely on her strong business acumen, strategic thinking, and problem-solving ability.

Diversity and Inclusion

Schwartz’s appointment as Executive Chair of Herrick, Feinstein LLP is not only a significant milestone for the firm but also for the legal industry at large.

Female leaders currently account for only 10 percent of Am Law 200 chairs and managing partners.

By appointing Schwartz to this position, Herrick is sending a message about its commitment to diversity and inclusion, but it also signals the increasing moves by major law firms to provide a positive female leadership role.

Schwartz’s appointment has already been celebrated by many in the legal community who see it as an important step towards breaking down barriers that have historically prevented women from reaching leadership positions within law firms.

She was named as one of the women of influence by New York Business Journal in 2022 when she told the magazine: “I am a consigliere. At the heart of it, I am first and foremost a lawyer who must be both excellent at what I do and bring all of my work and life experience to bear on the situation at hand.”

The firm’s statement about the elevation of Schwartz said that having more women in leadership positions within law firms, the profession can begin to address some of the systemic issues that have made it difficult for women to advance in their careers.

This includes addressing pay equity, creating more flexible work arrangements, and promoting policies that support work-life balance.

“We hope that other firms will follow suit and prioritize diversity and inclusion at all levels of their organizations” the firm said in a statement.

Schwartz expressed her excitement about leading Herrick and shaping the future of the firm.

She said, “I am honored to have been asked to lead Herrick, my professional home for the last 25 years. I know I will continue to be inspired by my partners and our exceptional clients.”

Schwartz succeeds Irwin A. Kishner, who has served as Herrick’s Executive Chairman since 2010. Kishner will continue to lead Herrick’s nationally recognized and highly lauded Sports Law Group.

Deal-Maker Advice

Schwartz comes to the role as a well respected deal-maker who has influenced many attorneys through her extensive mentoring work within her firm and the profession.

She is the first female Chair of the firm, the first female member of Herrick’s five-person Executive Committee, and one of the only women in the country to chair a major commercial real estate practice.

She said that in terms of advice to others, she had an understanding of the business deal. In a media interview she said her advice to others was that “It’s imperative to understand your client’s business proposition or the deal in order to appreciate your client’s end goal and do a good job.

Asked what the biggest challenge facing women in the profession was, she said:

“People often assume that women come in two categories: tough with a chip on their shoulder or too nice.

“Obviously you can be nice and tough at the same time; those characteristics are not mutually exclusive.

“To view women in leadership as an “and” rather than an “or” would be to see that women have always brought more to the table than the dichotomy described. And you know what tough and nice gets you? Respect and loyalty.”

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