Women Worth Watching 2015
Jennifer K. Grady
This Managing Partner Has a Habit of Breaking New Ground
As managing partner of Richards Kibbe & Orbe, Jennifer Grady is responsible for directing the affairs of a law firm that represents nine of the top ten global investment banks, six of the top ten private equity funds, and more than a third of the 100 largest hedge funds. Her supervisory responsibilities encompass all aspects of the firm’s operations—from financial performance to hiring strategies and relationships with staff and vendors. She also leads meetings of the firm’s executive committee.
“Believing in yourself encourages others to do the same.”
At the nation’s largest law firms, only about one out of five equity partners is female, and the number of women in leadership positions at those firms “can be counted on two hands,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Jennifer has achieved that level of success. And the fact that the firm’s partners, including many former senior officials from the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, and other agencies, have selected her as their leader speaks powerfully to her legal talent and the confidence she inspires in others.
“While I am a rarity as a female managing partner, and while there are advances yet to be made, thanks to women who’ve gone before me I find myself judged largely on my work rather than my gender,” said Jennifer.
Jennifer stands out not only for her well-respected judgment, but for groundbreaking work she has done in connection with complicated financial instruments known as derivatives. She developed such a level of expertise in emerging, but little-understood derivative products, that she began to draw new business to the firm while she was still an associate—a rare occurrence at law firms. Her work led to the creation of a new derivatives practice that now occupies the time of multiple firm attorneys. Recently, she represented The Loan Syndications and Trading Association (LSTA) before the SEC and CFTC on the treatment of certain loan market products under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Education: BA, Wellesley; JD, Harvard Law School
First Job: Toys”R”Us sales clerk
What I’m Reading: “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt
The most important quality a woman leader should have is…
…confidence. Believing in yourself encourages others to do the same.
The career advice I’d give my former self:
Stop apologizing. If there’s no need for it, you’re just minimizing yourself.
Words I live by:
Always be prepared, and treat everyone with respect.
The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…
…refuse to sell myself short. I would also spend more time focusing on my strengths and less time trying to address my perceived weaknesses.
When I really need to focus on a project, I…
…make a to-do list and create a schedule. I have also learned to figure out whose help I need and ask for it.
My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…
…becoming managing partner of my firm. Being appointed to that role and serving in it have both taught me to trust my instincts.
Being a woman in my profession has been…
…neither a hindrance nor an asset. While I am a rarity as a female managing partner, and while there are advances yet to be made, thanks to women who’ve gone before me I find myself judged largely on my work rather than my gender.
I’ve learned that failure is…
…helpful, provided you are willing to learn from it.
I maintain a healthy personal life by…
…setting boundaries and enforcing them.
I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…
…I earned the trust of my clients.