Women of Gordon Feinblatt

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In celebration of Women's History Month, the Firm will showcase each of our distinguished female lawyers. Check back daily for updates and insights from the women of Gordon Feinblatt.

Gordon Feinblatt acknowledges the efforts of all of the women attorneys, paralegals, and staff that make this Firm special.  The impact of each individual is significant, and the Firm sends a very special thank you to the women of Gordon Feinblatt!

Christine Y. Lee

If you could share a piece of advice with the next generation of women entering the workforce, what would it be?

The next generation of women entering the workforce should come in with the desire to work hard, seek mentors in her field, and also have the awareness and understanding to not always accept the status quo.  As our workforce becomes more diverse, managers and company owners are finally seeing that it is not only in the best interests of the employees but also in the best interests of the business to hire a more diverse workforce.  Because of the different backgrounds, cultural experiences and life experiences, the workforce benefits by having those different perspectives being introduced to the problems/solutions that the business encounters.  As an Asian American woman attorney, I have a different perspective and insight into clients that come from different cultural backgrounds that allows me to connect with them more easily.  As a mother, my ability to multitask, organize, prioritize as well as my compassion and disciplinary skills have an influence on ability to manage professionally, which then benefits the firm.  So while work/life balance should definitely be adhered to, our experiences as a woman, sister, mother, daughter, coach, etc. can be applied to how we approach our work.

If we were to ask a group of people who know you, what three adjectives would they use to describe you?

Compassionate, problem solving and discerning.

What three values are most important to you?

Honesty, integrity and kindness.

Lynn B. Sassin

If you could share a piece of advice with the next generation of women entering the workforce, what would it be?

My advice to young women entering the workforce is to be true to yourself, stand up for what you believe, and never compromise your values. Women need to use their knowledge, skills and experiences to be part of the conversation and discussion; to find their voices or “lean in” and not wait to be invited.

In a changing world, how are you inspired as a woman leader?

I am inspired to see women finding their voices, being recognized for being tough, smart, competent and able to solve problems, while also respected for caring about others, being compassionate, and understanding differences.  One change we can all make is to see ourselves as leaders who happen to be women, not as women leaders.

Michele Bresnick Walsh

If you could share a piece of advice with the next generation of women entering the workforce, what would it be?  

Know your worth and show your worth.  Many women are not as comfortable as men in selling themselves, touting their accomplishments, and asking for what they want and deserve, and therefore often do not get it.

Describe a cause or organization that you are passionate about and tell us how you are involved.  

I am the current board President and was a founding director of There Goes My Hero, a 501(c)(3) that saves lives by adding potential bone marrow donors to the bone marrow donor registry. We also provide nourishment to patients and families impacted by blood cancer by funding nutritious meals. As a leukemia survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient celebrating my 10th anniversary of my transplant this month, I am very passionate about the cause. Our ultimate goal would be that every patient in need of a bone marrow transplant can find a match.  

If we were to ask a group of people who know you, what three adjectives would they use to describe you?

Intelligent, determined and witty.

Alexandria K. Montanio

If you could share a piece of advice with the next generation of women entering the workforce, what would it be?

Seek out other women at your workplace as friends and mentors. I’ve learned so much from the women at Gordon Feinblatt who’ve paved the way for me, and I count on my peers for support and a good laugh on stressful days.

Describe a cause or organization that you are passionate about and tell us how you are involved.

I’m the President of the Board of the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation, a local nonprofit in my neighborhood that empowers our community by supporting community engagement, housing development, and entrepreneurship. I love seeing my neighbors come together to work towards a common goal, whether that is starting and supporting small businesses, celebrating a holiday in one of our great parks, or helping someone become a first time homeowner.  Dundalk is a hidden gem (43 miles of beautiful waterfront) with so much potential, and I love helping to revitalize the area I call home.

Tell us how a mentor or influential woman has made a difference in your life.

When I started at Gordon Feinblatt, Michele Walsh was assigned to be my mentor. Michele has been a role model since day one, introducing me to people, demonstrating how to be a leader both in the community and at work, all while being a really fun person to be around. Michele takes a lot of time out of her packed schedule to have breakfast with me regularly. It makes a huge difference to have someone in your corner showing you how to be a good lawyer and a good person.

I’d also be remiss not to mention my third grade teacher, Mrs. Mount. She believed in me so fiercely as a child and was always very clear that I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to and that always stuck with me.  She made the world feel limitless, and that allowed me to push myself to explore my passions.

Mary L. Porter

Tell us how a mentor or influential woman has made a difference in your life.

My mother encouraged me to give people the benefit of the doubt, and to try not to take things personally. By ascribing the best intentions to another, you avoid a lot of drama. This principle has served me well in both my personal and professional relationships.

What are some of the values that are most important to you?

Values I try to live by, and that I appreciate in others are: integrity, commitment to doing one’s best, kindness, and compassion.

What are some of your best tactics for balancing a demanding career and your life outside of work?

Finding work/life equilibrium is an ongoing process—I’m always making adjustments in pursuit of that elusive balance. I have found it important to make specific commitments to my life outside of work, because those activities and relationships are what bring depth to my life. I’ve learned that I must put on my calendar the things that are important to me, whether it be attending my children’s sporting events, taking a class, volunteering with a non-profit, or going to the gym. If I make doing those things non-negotiable, I find a way to get the work done.

Leslie M. Cumber

If you could share a piece of advice with the next generation of women entering the workforce, what would it be?

I’m going to borrow from Sheryl Sandberg: “The most important career decision you’ll make is who your life partner is.”

What do you do regularly to feel fulfilled?

I love to read.  No matter how busy I am, I try to find time to read for pleasure every day, even if only for a few minutes.

What are some of your best tactics for balancing a demanding career and your life outside of work?

I’m not sure I have “tactics” per se, but I have learned that it is best to think of “balance” as boundary management, not time management.  As a working parent, I can’t always control the amount of time I spend with my son, but I can control how that time is spent.  In other words, I can make sure that the time I do spend with him is quality time.

Danielle Stager Zoller

If you could share a piece of advice with the next generation of women entering the workforce, what would it be?

I have a few pieces of advice that I would like to share.  First, seek out a sponsor who will advocate on your behalf.  Most people are happy to help when asked, so don’t be afraid to ask.  Second, even when you think you are too busy to do it, get out from behind your desk and meet with people regularly.  The time away from the office will be refreshing and the personal connections will be rewarding.  Lastly, work hard and do good work, but do not assume that just doing good work will be enough.  Sometimes you must advocate for yourself and remind people of your value (and your good work!).

What three values are most important to you?

Integrity, courtesy and gratitude.

What are three things you do regularly to feel fulfilled?

Playing paddle (platform tennis) in the winter or tennis in the summer, watching my daughter play softball and soccer, and hanging out with friends.  I find that these things, combined with fresh air, help me to recharge and face each day with a more positive attitude. 

Brooke Shemer Zweig

If you could share a piece of advice with the next generation of women entering the workforce, what would it be?

Understand that your first job will probably not be your last, but try to make the most of each opportunity by treating it as a learning experience. Even if you don’t find yourself in love with a particular workplace or role, there are probably skills you are honing or individuals you are interacting with who are teaching you or adding value to your experience. You may not find enjoyment in every role, but remember that you are probably acquiring new skills, meeting new contacts (whether these are clients or colleagues), or exposing yourself to a new field or subject matter that will broaden your knowledge base, and this will make you more valuable to your next employer or company.

What are three things you do regularly to feel fulfilled?

  1. It is important for me to be home with my husband and son on weeknights. We try to eat dinner together most evenings, and there are no screens during that time (phones or TV)!
  2. I try to cook during the week, too, which makes me feel healthier.
  3. As indicated above, family is a priority for me, and we generally spend time over the weekend with parents, grandparents or other relatives.

If we were to ask a group of people who know you, what three adjectives would they use to describe you?

Logical, levelheaded and loyal.

Margaret M. Witherup

If you could share a piece of advice with the next generation of women entering the workforce, what would it be?

Treat every client as if he or she were the most important person in your life. This will ensure that you provide the best possible service and focus on what is best for them, even through the most challenging issues and even when there is no clear right answer to their problem.

What three values are most important to you?

Integrity, reliability and diligence.

What are some of your best tactics for balancing a demanding career and your life outside of work?

Technology and being networked with my office has enabled me to be involved in my kids’ lives in meaningful ways (such as serving as my daughter’s Girl Scout troop leader and my son’s Cub Scout Den Leader) while still providing excellent service to my clients.  Sometimes I have to work at night or take client calls while on vacation, but that is sometimes what needs to be done.  I feel lucky that I have the type of profession that gives me that flexibility.  

Meghan E. Young

If you could share a piece of advice with the next generation of women entering the workforce, what would it be?

Do not be afraid to take on and accept criticism. Some of the greatest tips or advice that I remember and carry with me as a litigation attorney was when my peers, colleagues, judges, or jurors provided feedback about my work and performance during trial.  I have learned to welcome the opinions and thoughts of others, even if they are unsolicited.

Tell us how a mentor or influential woman has made a difference in your life.

Growing up with a single mother was a great model for hard work, discipline, multi-tasking, organization and independence, all of which created a foundation for my personal and work life today.

If we were to ask a group of people who know you, what three adjectives would they use to describe you?

Disciplined, pragmatic and confident.

Laura L. Johnson

Describe a cause or organization that you are passionate about and tell us how you are involved.

I am passionate about Harford Family House (HFH) and its mission to end homelessness in Harford County.  HFH is the only organization in Harford County that is able to keep the entire family intact.  When the family already feels hopeless, the last thing its members need is to be separated from each other.  I have seen firsthand the changes that the organization has brought to the lives of its clients, and I am honored to play my part.

Tell us how a mentor or influential woman has made a difference in your life.

Sibyl Gordon, our former personnel director, has made a difference in my life, because she is one of the people who pushed me to pursue a law degree.  She has counseled me, guided me, and supported me from my first day at the firm as a work study intern.

What three values are most important to you?

Honesty, integrity and compassion.

Lauren E. Lake

What are three things you do regularly to feel fulfilled?

Running, baking, and journaling a brief thought at the end of the day before I go to sleep. All of these activities allow me to think and reflect about whatever is forefront in my mind and that awareness makes me feel fulfilled.

What three values are most important to you?

Dependability, trustworthiness and authenticity.

What are some of your best tactics for balancing a demanding career and your life outside of work?

I make sure that the things I’m doing in my life outside of work are things that I enjoy and will look forward to doing. The excitement to do the things outside of work gives me the energy to follow through and do a good job. I also like to overlap my activities outside of work so that I can accomplish multiple things at once, like chatting with friends during a run or on the way to a yoga class. Inviting people to the events I’m attending allows me to see and talk with new and old acquaintances and friends at a single place, like a bar association happy hour or other networking event. I’m also really careful with my calendar and make sure to include all of my activities in one place.

Carol Ghingher Cooper

If you could share a piece of advice with the next generation of women entering the workforce, what would it be?

Balancing family and career is possible and rewarding.  I stayed at home with my children for 9 years and then went to law school after they were both in school full-time. I also almost never missed a play, sporting event or other event in which my children participated (even while working full-time as an attorney).

What are three things you do regularly to feel fulfilled?

Exercise, meditate and spend time with friends.

If we were to ask a group of people who know you, what three adjectives would they use to describe you?

Empathetic, practical and knowledgeable.

Caroline E. Sweet

What are three things you do regularly to feel fulfilled?

I watch Game of Thrones, I play with my parent’s giant German Shepherd Dog, Franklin, and I spend time with my fiancé.

Tell us about a time when you almost gave up and what you did instead of giving up.

When I was deciding whether to attend law school, and even in to my first year, there were many times I would doubt whether I was following the right path; the work was hard (at the time), I had no money, I was taking on significant debt, and all of my friends had already begun their careers. I would stress and nearly panic about my future, and I didn’t know whether to quit or keep going.  It may sound strange, but the strategy that got me through was forcing myself to stop thinking any further then the very next day. I focused on one day at a time, one small task at a time, and it worked. I graduated law school with honors and I ended up practicing law in the field I enjoy most.  I have found since that scaling down any obstacle or goal to the day-to-day level makes them possible to overcome and achieve.

What three values are most important to you?

Honesty, compassion and conviction.

Caroline E. Sweet

Sheila K. Sachs

Tell us how a mentor or influential woman has made a difference in your life.

In my era I did not have a woman as a mentor.  The founding partners at Gordon Feinblatt, particularly Gene Feinblatt and Donald Rothman, gave me responsibility and were great role models and leaders in the legal, cultural, civic and political communities in Baltimore.

Tell us about a time when you almost gave up and what you did instead of giving up.

About 4 years after I came to Gordon Feinblatt, in 1981, I felt that the practice, and in particular the stress and demands of trying cases, was overwhelming. I still had 2 teenagers at home at that time and a husband in public life. I considered getting out of the practice of law. I stuck it out and learned how to put all the energy I needed into the cases but not make them the exclusive controlling factor in my life. Family came first.

Have you experienced a defining moment in your life when you knew you were exactly where you wanted to be? How did you get there?

I do not believe there is ever a “defining moment” in life. You can never be exactly where you "want to be” because there is always something new ahead. Not sitting back on your laurels, but continuing to learn as if you do not know everything is how to keep your edge.

Sheila Sachs

Jennifer Sheff Yeagle

Describe a cause or organization that you are passionate about and tell us how you are involved. 

The Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle (BWGC). I have been a member for several years, and I am currently the co-chair of the membership committee. Through the BWGC, I have learned more about Baltimore and the issues it’s facing. I have met the most amazing women, most of whom I would not have met otherwise and who have become mentors and great friends.

What are three things you do regularly to feel fulfilled?

  1. Participate in some kind of community activity, whether it’s through my children’s school, the BWGC, the City or State bar associations or Kennedy Krieger Institute.
  2. Spend time with my family and friends.
  3. Exercise.

What three values are most important to you?

Resilience, integrity and dependability.

Chastity E.C. Threadcraft

Tell us how a mentor or influential woman has made a difference in your life.

My older sister has been very influential in my life. She continues to be a guide for me throughout many personal experiences, but I am also fortunate enough to have her as a guide for my career. She is also an attorney. She practices debt finance and is able to give me tangible advice on the practical ins and outs of transactional work, which is incredibly helpful as I learn to navigate corporate law as my area of focus. It’s like having a practice area coach who also understands aspects of associate life at a firm. She knows me better than anyone else (and is lots of fun), so she is able to influence me in a very positive and personal way.

What three values are most important to you?

Generosity, consideration and respect.

What are some of your best tactics for balancing a demanding career and your life outside of work?

Making a conscious effort to remember there is an entire world outside of my office and that I need to make the most of it every day. Literally, there is an entire planet Earth that I remember I need to explore physically and intellectually as much as life will allow. I also try my best to stay connected with family and friends as a reminder that my life has many important sectors that require individual and separate attention, rather than just focusing on my daily work schedule. Lastly, I spend a lot of time finding ways to increase my mental and physical health to live a happy life and have a great career. I incorporate fun ways to focus on my physical health like spin class, which I love!

Marjorie A. Corwin

If you could share a piece of advice with the next generation of women entering the workforce, what would it be?

My advice to women attorneys about a career at a law firm is do your best, don’t give up, but do it your way.  There were many points in my legal career (which has spanned almost 38 years) when I thought it would be nice to quit.  This was particularly true when my children were young.  I felt pulled in different directions and it was hard.  But, I persevered primarily because I enjoyed the people I was working with (attorneys at the law firm, attorneys at the bar, and many clients) and the work was stimulating.  In the end, I would tell myself, I’ll establish a schedule and a practice that works for me (“do it my way”). 

I have managed my business development/client outreach the same way.  I chose activities I enjoyed (primarily ABA committee activities and speaking & presentations).  If that worked, great; if not, so be it.  It seems to have worked, perhaps because I enjoyed what I was doing.

In your previous response, you mentioned balancing a career and life outside of work.  How have you managed those choices?

Like many, I experienced calls about other jobs.  While no other law firm was of interest (I’m at the best firm for me), in-house opportunities were always intriguing.  However, in the end, I do not believe an in-house job would have allowed me the flexibility to “do it my way”.  I appreciate – and think it is important for women attorneys to recognize – that there is great autonomy and control over the work schedule at a law firm.  If you do your best and don’t give up, I believe you can “do it your way” and enjoy the ride.

Tell us how a mentor or influential woman has made a difference in your life.

I must give credit to Carla Witzel.  She was an amazing role model (smarter than anyone I know) and was a best buddy at the office.  If you can find someone like that, latch on.