NYLJ Distinguished Leader: Belinda G. Schwartz
Executive chair of Herrick and co-chair of the Real Estate Practice, Belinda Schwartz, was named a 2023 Distinguished Leader by the New York Law Journal. As part of this recognition, Belinda was interviewed by the NYLJ. A portion of the interview is below.
Name a lawyer or mentor whose leadership inspired you.
My path was not the same as many of my peers, so I did not have one person guiding me or showing me how to be professional or be a leader. So, instead, in terms of mentorship I looked to model the best qualities of the people I worked for and with and layer them onto my own personality and innate abilities. Whether it was being a good lawyer, dealmaker, business person or manager, I always sought to learn what I could from the professionals around me even if I knew that I would have to modify their attributes to accommodate who I was and how I wanted to be perceived. In the beginning, I was learning from senior partners in leadership, and now I learn from my fellow partners and clients and even other leaders whom I don’t necessarily know well. I see how they run their businesses, their deals, and even how they relate to their communities and families. I’ve learned what "to do" and what "not to do," or, said differently, I’ve learned what does work for me, as an individual, and what doesn’t.
How are the business and profession of law changing, and how should lawyers adapt for the future?
This issue—women in the profession—is something the legal profession has been dealing with for years. Law firms need to continue to adapt to the new generation of working women and be flexible. And I want to say that I took a very linear path to where I am today, mostly because I really didn’t have the option to do otherwise. I think women have unique challenges because of childbearing and societal expectations, and I just hope that a lot of women who feel uncomfortable taking the same path that I did understand you can get on and off the bus. It might be challenging, but it can be very rewarding. And I hope we see a lot more women able to do that with law firms making more space for them to do so successfully.