Author Archives: riselawyers

Why Your Diversity Initiative Is Irrelevant . . . and How to Fix It

By Joanne Cleaver, Melissa McClenaghan Martin and Dr. Anne Perschel

“Let me close my office door,” said the firm managing partner. That’s when we knew the truth was going to come out.

“Women keep leaving our firm,” he said into the phone. “We can’t figure out why. Everyone gets the same opportunities. We have a women’s initiative so the women can get together and hear from women partners. We give them extra business development and leadership training. None of it seems to make a difference. Women quit anyway. This can’t continue. What are we doing wrong?”

As consultants with complementary practices, we often collaborate to help professional firms diagnose and address vexing problems with retaining and developing women and diverse talent. We’ve seen too many misguided initiatives doomed from the start. They’re doomed because the initiatives are seen as add-ons: programs ancillary, not necessary, for the firm’s future. Continue reading

How Many Firms Will Follow Cravath’s Lead In Naming A Woman As Chair?

In June, Cravath announced that it would bump first year associate salaries up to $180k, and many firms followed.  In July, Cravath announced that a woman will chair Cravath for the first time in the firm’s history.  Given that her addition will make just four of the top 200 firms lead by women, I hope that other firms are as eager to follow suit.


The Glass Ceiling Report’s Best Law Firms for Female Partners And Discussion Of Progress

What do you think?



October 2016 Bi-Monthly Meeting | Century City

What: October 2016 Bi-Monthly Meeting

When: October 5, 2016 | 6 p.m.

Location: Century City | Venable, LLP

Guest Speaker: MaryBeth LippSmith


MaryBeth LippSmith launched her private practice, LippSmith Law, in October 2015.  She specializes in appeals but devotes part of her practice to assisting trial lawyers with dispositive motions.  While MaryBeth handles some indigent criminal defense appeals, the bulk of her practice focuses on plaintiff-side civil work.  She also evaluates complex civil cases for mediators.

MaryBeth graduated from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in 2002, where she served as Executive Senior Editor for the Southern California Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif.  She earned her Bachelors of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Northwestern University.

Prior to starting her own firm, MaryBeth served as a career law clerk to the Honorable Dorothy W. Nelson on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  MaryBeth had been an elbow law clerk to Judge Nelson during her 2002-2003 term.

Following her first clerkship with Judge Nelson, MaryBeth worked as a litigation associate at Caldwell, Leslie, Newcombe and Pettit.  Her practice included criminal defense and general civil litigation.  MaryBeth then returned to USC for a short stint as an adjunct professor, before spending more than six years as a capital habeas staff attorney at the Central District of California.  In that position, MaryBeth acted as a law clerk in nineteen death penalty cases that were assigned to sixteen different judges.

MaryBeth’s many years working for the courts give her an unique perspective among plaintiff-side practitioners.