Did you know that most women entering the legal profession go to work in the public sector? That usually has to do with the more manageable work-life balance the public sector affords compared to most private firms.

But at Stark & Stark, managing career and life is an important part of the company’s philosophy. The firm makes it its mission to build strong leaders and to nurture strong relationships with the community it serves.

As an offshoot of Stark & Stark’s commitment to attracting, nurturing, and retaining the best women attorneys in the region, the firm has established the Women’s Initiative. The Initiative strives to help younger women attorneys at the firm navigate the demands of life and work in what remains a profession filled mostly by men.

Corrine Cooke, who helped found the Women’s Initiative in 2013, says the program is designed to encourage diversity and to build strong leaders among the firm’s female attorneys by offering support and one-on-one mentorship from Stark & Stark’s more senior Shareholders and Associates.

Rachel Stark, who is actively involved in the Initiative, joined the firm in 1996. Her experience, she says, offers women new to the firm (and to life as a private-sector attorney in general) a chance to see how women in more senior roles got to where they are.

“Our firm is well-positioned for the mentoring of women attorneys,” Stark says. “The firm’s culture is about getting out into the community, meeting people, and networking, not about just sitting at a desk and working on whatever is handed to you. My work with junior attorneys, and really all the attorneys here, is to show how important that is.”

Building strong relationships among the community is rewarding work that may not pay off right away, Stark says. But over time, those relationships will be more lucrative than simply taking cases as they come.

Mentoring is, of course, a two-way street, and Stark says younger attorneys can teach established attorneys, including more senior Shareholders, how to tap into deep, broad personal contacts and apply social media to their networking and relationship building skills. Younger attorneys like Cooke, she says, also have the energy and drive to research new ways to make for a better working life.

Cooke is a great example of youthful energy and drive. She started the Women’s Initiative after noticing that other law firms had similar programs. She has taken the lead on researching best practices, making agendas, scheduling Women’s Initiative meetings and events, and driving the initiative forward.

Cooke says the Women’s Initiative has been successful since their very first meeting.

“We’ve had an extremely high attendance rate at all of our meetings and events,” she says. “Our members are committed to helping each other, and the response has been fantastic.”

Stark & Stark continually seeks opportunities to evolve by encouraging and promoting new ideas and input from its women lawyers through regular meetings. The Women’s Initiative has provided an environment for great women to accomplish great things, both within the community and within their professional careers.

Stark & Stark, 993 Lenox Drive, Building 2, Lawrenceville. www.stark-stark.com.

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