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Pessin Katz names first woman to head corporate, real estate practice group

Lauren B. Ades, the new head of Pessin Katz's Corporate and Real Estate practice group. (Courtesy of Pessin Katz P.A.)

Lauren B. Ades, the new head of Pessin Katz’s Corporate and Real Estate practice group. (Courtesy of Pessin Katz P.A.)

Pessin Katz P.A.’s promotion of Lauren B. Ades to chair the Corporate and Real Estate practice group is a historical move: Ades is the first woman to lead the group in the firm’s 30-year history.

Ades, who became practice group head on May 1, is one of 13 women partners at the Towson firm. In all, 42% of the firm’s partner-level attorneys are women, according to data the firm provided for The Daily Record’s 2019 Largest Law Firms rankings.

“Lauren’s experience in corporate, real estate and business law, including mergers and acquisitions, commercial finance, business formation and real estate transactions, positions her as the ideal professional to assume these increased responsibilities,” Zaharris said.

While Ades’ day-to-day practice hasn’t changed since the promotion, Ades said she now gets to think bigger.

“I will really have a role in shaping our department,” said Ades, who added that she will seek to develop different practice areas within the group, which has nine attorneys.

“This decision is in keeping with our goal to promote diversity within every aspect of our firm, as we are recognized for having one of the largest number of female partners among Baltimore-area firms,” Zaharris said of Ades’ promotion.

The firm offers professional development in marketing, IT, finance and accounting for attorneys who want to fine-tune their skills, the better to build their practice. Ades took advantage of those offerings and did business coaching with Wendy Merrill of the Owings Mills-based StrategyHorse Consulting Group.

“That was strategic on the part of the firm, realizing the potential that Lauren had and giving her the resources that she needed,” said Nicole Ames, chief business development officer at PK Law.

The coaching helped Ades identify and develop business development skills for her practice. In particular, Ades said, she focused on the type of clients and cases she sought to pursue.

Merrill provided one-on-one coaching and worked to define the value Ades brings to the table, as well as to identify her personal brand so she could better market herself to the community.

“If you don’t have a very clear picture of the value that you bring to the table to whoever you’re sitting across the table from, you will never have control in your career,” Merrill said. “That’s not just for lawyers, that’s for everybody.”

Numerous studies show that the ranks of women attorneys begin to thin the higher they rise in the profession. A 2017 report by McKinsey & Co. found that 46% of associates were women, while just 19% of equity partners were women. Women made up 25% of attorneys in executive leadership positions, the report said.

Women must be able to assert the value they bring to a firm, Merrill said.

“So many of us are looking to others to be our champions,” she said. “We have to be able to advocate for ourselves.”

For young women lawyers, it’s important to find a firm that is supportive, Ades said, adding, “It’s also important to ask for what you need and not be shy.”


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