In The News

Ropes & Gray Honors Legacy of Firm’s First Woman Partner

Tags: Diversity

In recognition of Women’s History Month, Ropes & Gray and the firm’s Women’s Forum are celebrating the legacy of the firm’s first woman partner, Joan D. Fuller (1928–2018), by formally renaming a professional development grant for women attorneys at the firm in her honor.

Ms. Fuller, a graduate of Harvard Law School, served as a partner in the private client group from 1973 until her retirement in 1993. During her tenure at the firm, she placed a high priority on celebrating the academic and professional achievements of other attorneys, especially women.

The Joan D. Fuller Professional Development Grant enables women attorneys to take the lead in driving their careers. It can be used to fund creative activities that help women attorneys achieve their professional goals and develop successful relationships with colleagues, clients and prospective clients.

“Joan was an extraordinary mentor. Her impact on my life and career was way out of proportion to the relatively brief time we worked together. I can’t believe how lucky I was to have Joan guide me during those early years of my career,” said Brenda Diana, a partner in the firm’s private client group, who reflects on Joan’s legacy in this essay.

Ropes & Gray has long been at the forefront of recruiting, retaining and advancing the careers of women in the law. Today, 45 percent of the firm’s lawyers are women, and that percentage continues to grow. 

Women comprise nearly 27 percent of the partnership—well above industry average of 19 percent—and hold significant leadership positions in the firm, serving as department heads, practice group leaders and policy committee members. Julie H. Jones will become the first woman chair in the firm’s 154-year history when she takes the leadership reins in 2020. The Women’s Forum is co-chaired by Lisa Bebchick, a litigation & enforcement partner in New York.

Additionally, Ropes & Gray has been recognized as a leading firm for advancing gender equity:

  • Law360 has, for two years in a row, named Ropes & Gray to its top 10 list of “Best Law Firms for Female Attorneys,” as well as to its “Ceiling Smashers” list of law firms with the highest percentage of women equity partners.
  • Chambers Women in Law Awards has honored Ropes & Gray for having the industry’s “Best Mentoring Program” and as “Law Firm of the Year in Promoting Flexible Work Environments and Innovative Programs for Mothers.”
  • Vault’s survey of the 150 most prestigious law firms in the country has, since 2010, consistently ranked Ropes & Gray as a top firm for diversity for women.
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