When Brooke Rodgers and Bill Steinman established Steinman & Rodgers over ten years ago, we set out to create a boutique law firm that provides the same caliber of service in the anti-corruption space that companies expect from large firms.
Since 2009, Steinman & Rodgers has also focused internally on being a firm where partners and associates thrive while working on sophisticated issues for leading companies. Along the way, we realized that what we’ve created is also a great place for women lawyers.
The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) reports that “the progress women have made in law firms over the last decade has been slow and incremental at best.” That unfortunate reality, which many of us are working to rectify, is not the case at Steinman & Rodgers. Seventy-five percent of our lawyers are women. Half of our partners are women. And, our managing partner is a woman.
Last month, we were proud to be certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), and last week we received Federal certification as an SBA Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB).
WBENC is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the United States, and its national standard of certification is a meticulous process. It included an in-depth review of our operating history, our finances, and our day-to-day operations to ensure that we are woman-owned, controlled, and managed. The process, which was document-intensive and took several months to complete, also included a site visit and an interview. WBENC reports that its certification is one of the most rigorous of its kind. Having earned WBE status, we can vouch that this is the case.
We are also proud to be part of one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy. According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 1.1 million woman-owned businesses in the United States, employing almost ten million people. The SBA also reports that the number of women-owned companies grew at double the growth rate of companies owned by men in recent years. Women have also played a leading role in the growth of the compliance profession. According to USA Today, women make up 53 percent of compliance officers in the United States. Indeed, the number of female compliance officers has tripled in the last decade and a half.
While those statistics are illustrative of progress made, we’re still striving to move the needle on gender diversity at law firms, and we look forward to a day when we won’t have to talk about gender disparities in the legal profession. It is our hope that as more organizations like ours join the market, and earn WBE and WOSB certifications, that day will come.
In the meantime, much remains to be done. According to NAWL’s most recent annual survey of the AmLaw 200, women comprise 47 percent of associates, but only 30 percent of non-equity partners and 20 percent of equity partners. A mere 22 percent of firm-wide managing partners are women. NAWL also observed that these figures are virtually unchanged from 2017. Also consider that less than half of the AmLaw 200 responded to NAWL’s survey.
For corporate legal and compliance departments seeking to increase diversity and inclusion among their outside counsel, the good news is that women-owned organizations like ours are already here, and ready to help.
Brooke D. Rodgers, pictured above right, is a founding partner, majority owner and managing partner of Steinman & Rodgers LLP. She is a leading expert on FCPA and other anti-corruption matters in the defense and aerospace industry. Brooke has twice been named a finalist for the annual Women in Compliance Awards, and has been recognized as a “Female Powerbroker” by Law360.
Anne-Marie Zell, above left, is a senior associate at Steinman & Rodgers LLP, where she specializes in advising clients in the defense and energy sectors on a range of anti-corruption matters, including the engagement of overseas business intermediaries and risk assessments. Prior to joining S&R, Anne-Marie was part of the advisory team at TRACE International.