Towson-based Smith, Gildea & Schmidt LLC has added three new equity partners, including its first two female equity partners.
The new equity partners — Mariela D’Alessio, Melissa English and Jason Vettori — will chair departments that the firm plans to expand, according to a news release from the law firm, which specializes in litigation and real estate and business law.
D’Alessio will continue to chair the estates and trusts department, while English, who has been with the firm since 2015, will head the new complex litigation department, according to the release. Vettori, who has been at the firm since 2005, will chair the real estate and land use department, the release stated.
D’Alessio, who joined the firm in 2014 and became a partner in 2019, said the legal profession recognizes the importance of diversity and is making progress toward establishing a diverse workforce.
“I think there’s definitely a trend of (legal practice) moving toward becoming more diverse with female lawyers,” D’Alessio said. “I think it’s just about having the right people. … I think we are successful because we all complement each other here.”
D’Alessio added that it was her longtime goal to become one of the first female partners at her firm.
Slightly more than one in three, or 38%, of U.S. lawyers are women, according to a May 2018 article by the U.S. Census Bureau.
A report released in November 2019 by the American Bar Association and ALM Intelligence said that women made up 20% of law firm equity partners in 2018, though women comprise between 45% and 50% of new law firm associates each year.
SGS Managing Partner David Gildea said hiring women partners and improving diversity is “absolutely” important to the firm.
“They’re very talented attorneys and we’re proud to have them as equity partners,” Gildea said of D’Alessio and English.
Looking at the legal profession overall, Gildea said the gender balance varies depending on the area of practice. He said D’Alessio and English’s practice areas have been typically male-dominated.
“It’s doubly impressive they’ve been able to accomplish everything they have in these environments that are changing,” Gildea said.