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Maron Marvel's Leader On Her Journey, Firm's Diversity Aims

April 8, 2022

Law360

By Rose Krebs

Now settled in as Maron Marvel Bradley Anderson & Tardy LLC's managing shareholder, president and executive committee chair, Catherine Pyune McEldowney says she is looking forward to a future in the legal profession with more people like her in leadership positions.CPM-headshot

The mass tort litigation firm, which has its main office in Delaware, announced last week that McEldowney had been appointed to the leadership posts. She is the first woman and first Korean American attorney to helm the national firm.

McEldowney told Law360 Pulse this week that she took over as the firm's leader earlier this year. In her leadership roles, McEldowney "oversees the firm's strategic direction and business planning, governance and operations, marketing development programs, client relations, and is the spokesperson for Maron Marvel," a firm announcement said.

McEldowney said she plans "to lead by example" and help empower others as she guides a new generation of Maron Marvel's leadership.

The firm, founded in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1996, has grown from a boutique toxic tort practice to a firm with more than 100 attorneys in 12 offices nationwide, according to the firm. In addition to Delaware, Maron Marvel has offices in Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

McEldowney told Law360 Pulse about her journey to becoming Maron Marvel's leader, her vision for the firm and ongoing efforts to bring about more diversity and empower its attorneys.

You took over earlier this year as Maron Marvel's leader, the first woman and first Korean American attorney to helm the national firm. Explain the significance of this milestone for you personally and for the firm as well.

This has been one of the most rewarding and challenging milestones in my 30-year career. Starting out as a newbie lawyer, I never imagined leading a law firm one day. It has been a goal of mine since joining

Maron Marvel in 2003 to learn from the founding member and my mentor, Jim Maron, and take the reins when he retired.

For the firm, this is the first time a woman or a person of color has been elected to any of these positions. We are focused on empowering our people and have elected seven new shareholders this year. Today, our leadership team is 16 members strong. One of our key initiatives this year is the creation of an Attorney Development Committee to ensure we provide training, mentorship and support for the success of our lawyers.

You've been with the firm for nearly two decades. What have been the biggest changes during your time there, and what is your vision for Maron Marvel's future?

Since joining Maron Marvel in 2003, the biggest change in the firm has been our organic growth. We have expanded from three lawyers in Wilmington [the firm's main office] to 100 attorneys in 12 offices across 10 states. This gave us the killer team and geographic reach to represent our clients in some of the most dangerous jurisdictions in the country.

Moving forward, I hope to see more lawyers that look like me who will take on leadership roles in the profession. My vision for the firm is to take Jim's legacy to the next level of technology and litigation risk management to help our clients obtain predictable and favorable outcomes while lowering defense and indemnity dollars year after year. I want Maron Marvel lawyers to remain obsessed with client service and win by being fearless, loyal, efficient and steadfast.

You said that bolstering diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at the firm will continue to be a focus moving forward, and that you intend to lead by example and help empower others. What measures does the firm have in place, and what things can it do moving forward, to bring about more diversity and empower its attorneys? And in your leadership roles, how will you help ensure that there is follow-through on such measures?

The diversity of the present firm's workforce is a testament to the views and priorities of our leadership team. The firm's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee helps formulate and implement diversity, equity and inclusion policies and programs. In addition to the DEI director and the DEI officer, a liaison from each of the firm's offices serves on the committee. Our leadership team is committed to empowering individual authenticity in our workforce.

As an Asian American woman, I know the hardships of achieving equity in the workplace and the opportunities that can be created to make it happen. To start, we elevated our DEI director [Antoinette Hubbard] to our membership and leadership team. She leads the firm's DEI Committee. She is involved in the hiring process for all attorneys.

In addition, we've created two affinity groups (Women Attorney Affinity Group and Racial Minority Attorney Affinity Group). We're also pursuing partnership opportunities with local educational institutions to sponsor legal scholarships, mentoring, and internships to spark and support interest of underrepresented groups in the legal profession.

Finally, another major focus of the firm's diversity, equity, and inclusion program is the promotion of a diverse pipeline for the legal profession. We partner with our clients to engage in DEI initiatives and the firm actively supports minority job fairs and summer law camps for youths from underprivileged communities.

As a first-generation Korean-American who is the first lawyer in your family, and who has now reached the milestone moment of leading a national firm with more than 100 attorneys in 12 offices, what attributes have best served you in reaching this point of your legal career and overcoming barriers along the way?

I am the first lawyer in my family. The attributes that have best served me in my career include my relentless work ethic, loyalty to my team members and clients, becoming a subject-matter expert in my field, my scrupulous attention to detail, and obsession with client service and responsiveness.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

--Editing by Gemma Horowitz.

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