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Ask the Women of White and Williams

We asked women lawyers to share significant moments in their careers and advice for young women lawyers.  

Tell Us About a Significant Moment in Your Career.

Phyllis Ingram, Associate, Directors and Officers
Twenty years ago when I was a young lawyer and pregnant with my third daughter I argued before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a First Amendment case that involved the issue of a prosecutor’s right to absolute and qualified immunity. We had been denied summary judgment below so I had an uphill climb. Judge Kearse was the senior judge sitting on the bench that day. Responding to her tough questions I remember thinking how proud I was to be a mother arguing in federal court before a woman Judge. Judge Kearse ultimately rendered a decision affirming the district court’s denial but we did succeed in obtaining a strong dissenting opinion on the argument we crafted and that I had argued to the bench. I took that opinion as a small victory. Since then I have periodically thought of that day and it has inspired me to believe in life’s possibilities and in my own ability.

Sara Mirsky, Associate, Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith

Sitting at the lead counsel table in a major insurance coverage trial was an exciting and important experience. It was the culmination of many, many months of hard work. I was trusted to thoroughly know the voluminous materials and assist with any issues that cropped up during the trial. It was an intense but very rewarding experience, and I knew in the moment that I would be able to take the lessons learned during that trial and apply them to other tasks down the road.

Debbie Sandler, Partner, Labor and Employment
A significant moment in my career was when I successfully argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court in a case where the ability of employers to impose non-compete agreements was at issue. On a more personal note, one moment that stands out is being voted into the Partnership while on maternity leave with my second daughter.
Patti Santelle, Managing Partner
A significant moment in my career was being elected the Chair of White and Williams. It was a challenging time for the firm and for me personally because the former Chair, who was my mentor and long-time partner and closest friend at the firm, had died suddenly – but it was significant to have the support of the Executive Committee, as well as the partners and so many other folks around the firm, the clients and the legal community.
Rosemary Schnall, Partner, Healthcare
An important moment in my career was when as an associate I was asked by a senior partner, who was my mentor, to accompany him to the deposition of our client, the main defendant in a complex case. The plaintiffs’ attorney was very experienced and I had not yet presented a defendant-physician for deposition in a medical malpractice case. The morning of the deposition, I learned that I would be presenting our client for deposition. That's when I knew that I had the confidence of a senior partner and the client.

Ciaran Way, Associate, Reinsurance

I second-chaired a 6-day jury trial in federal court and we won with a defense verdict. The partner with whom I was trying the case had total confidence in me. I was very involved with trial prep. At trial, I examined a couple fact witnesses and three of our expert witnesses, and cross-examined the plaintiffs’ corresponding expert witnesses. After the plaintiffs presented their case, the judge strongly encouraged the defendant to settle the case. But the plaintiffs’ demand was still in excess of $1M. As the jury was deliberating, we offered the plaintiffs a high-low deal which would have given plaintiffs a minimum of $425K. The plaintiffs declined. When the jury read the verdict, it was the most victorious I have ever felt. Neither I nor the partner thought the jury was going to return a defense verdict. I am so thankful for that experience. You can achieve great things when you have a mentor who really believes in you and shares growth opportunities with you.

Read more from our women lawyers about their careers and advice for young women.
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