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Diversifying leadership roles in multidistrict litigation (MDL) hasn’t always been a priority, but that fact is certainly changing. U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe’s appointment of attorneys Roberta Liebenberg and Dianne M. Nast as plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel in In re: Generic Digoxin and Doxycycline Antitrust Litigation is truly an advancement for diversity in the field of law.

closing the gender gapWhile exclusively female-led litigation is still a rarity today, both sides of this particular case have gained female leadership. Liebenberg’s and Nast’s appointment comes on the heels of attorney Jan P. Levine’s recent appointment as lead counsel for the defense in the litigation.

Regarding her decision, Judge Rufe told The Legal Intelligencer that, “The court expects that the leadership will provide opportunities for attorneys not named to the plaintiff’s steering committee, particularly less-senior attorneys, to participate meaningfully and efficiently in the MDL, including through participation in any committees within the plaintiff’s steering committee and in determining which counsel will argue any motions before the court.”

As a West Point graduate and a professional working for decades with trial lawyers and their clients, I have witnessed the gender gap in male-dominated spaces like law firsthand. When it comes to leadership, ingenuity and talent, earning respect from one’s peers should simply be gender neutral in the face of true professionalism. Unfortunately, ingrained beliefs are slow to change.

The deconstruction of these outdated mentalities will only occur when there is a viral movement in the opposite direction. Appointments of highly-qualified and skilled female lawyers to leadership roles will be a huge factor in closing the gender gap in historically male-centric fields. Employing the principles of Ann Friedman’s Shine Theory and other amplification devices will ensure talents are heard loud a clear. Organizations promoting the success of women, like Women En Mass, will continue to snowball into massive, national movements. Together, these efforts will trample archaic beliefs and ensure leadership and success will always be granted to those who deserve it most.

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