Diversity Scorecard 2014: Women Closing The Gender Gap

, Daily Business Review

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Niza M. Motola of Littler Mendelson and Mercedes M. Sellek of Maspons Sellek Jacobs
Niza M. Motola of Littler Mendelson and Mercedes M. Sellek of Maspons Sellek Jacobs

One member is Effie Silva, who said Ellesquire has helped her "in terms of finding people I can refer my cases to as well as people interested in hiring me.

"The idea is to refer within the network and not to male counterparts that do the same job," she said. "It's absolutely helped me."

About six months ago, a group of women attorneys decided to mentor six hand-picked, up-and-coming female lawyers in the area of business litigation and bankruptcy. They were concerned about the low level of women in bankruptcy law and receiverships.

The mentors are Leyza Blanco, a partner at GrayRobinson; Cori Castro-Lopez, a partner at Kozyak Tropin Throckmorton; Mindy Mora, a partner at Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod; Patricia Redmond, a partner at Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson; bankruptcy trustee Jackie Calderin and Isicoff.

"We made a list of women looking for networking opportunities and narrowed it down to six," Blanco said. "We meet at power lunch places. People have noticed the 12 of us together."

One of the mentees is Linda Leali, who started her own law firm last year after working as an associate at White & Case for 12 years without being promoted to partner.

Since then, Leali has worked to secure receiverships, successfully obtaining several. However, she and others—including bankruptcy judges—are concerned about a lack of women named receivers and Chapter 11 trustees and leading large bankruptcy cases.

"I think as more women become better known in the community, primarily in the real estate area, we will see more women being appointed Chapter 11 trustees," Isicoff said. "What is more concerning is we are not seeing women first-chairing bankruptcy cases. That is a big concern."

Receivership Diversity

The bankruptcy/UCC receivership subcommittee of The Florida Bar is hosting a receivership education program May 2 in Miami designed in part to increase the participation of women and minorities as receivers. A cocktail mixer will be held that night to give would-be receivers some face time with judges and those assigning cases.

"We are trying to make efforts to diversify the receivership community," said Tom Messana, co-chair of the receivership subcommittee of the business law section of The Florida Bar. "There's been a concern that was raised to us by the bench that there aren't enough women and minorities receiving receiverships. The community we're talking about ... should reflect the larger community we live in. There's still a glass ceiling out there."

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