Women’s Leadership Initiative Strengthened by Harris Beach Commitment

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Albany Law School announced today that Harris Beach PLLC, one of the nation’s top law firms as ranked by The National Law Journal, has committed significant resources to support the law school’s Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI).

First announced in May, the WLI will provide students with professional development around leadership, opportunities to build and expand a professional network, and a fellowship program that will include mentorship and experiential components.

Harris Beach has committed $25,000 to support and expand the WLI’s programming and experiential opportunities—including professional development and leadership training—that will be made available to students. The firm plans to be an active partner through the involvement of attorneys and professional staff in mentorship and educational activities.

John T. McManus ’97, managing partner of the Harris Beach offices in Albany and Saratoga Springs, will serve on the WLI’s advisory committee. Harris Beach currently employs nearly three dozen Albany Law School graduates as partners and associates across its 11 offices in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, as well as a third-year student who will join the firm full-time in the summer of 2021. Statewide, Harris Beach employs about 200 attorneys, making it one of the biggest law firms in the state outside Manhattan.

“The commitment we are making to the Women’s Leadership Initiative furthers our firm’s commitment to inclusion and diversity and continues our long-standing relationship with Albany Law School,” McManus said. “Harris Beach has developed partnerships with law schools across the state aimed at making a difference in the lives of young lawyers and aspiring lawyers, particularly those who are underrepresented in our profession. The Women’s Leadership Initiative is a unique way of mentoring tomorrow’s lawyers by tapping into the knowledge, creativity, mentoring, and expertise of our full team.”

“We thank Harris Beach for its generous contribution to the Women’s Leadership Initiative,” said Albany Law School President and Dean Alicia Ouellette. “We believe the impacts of this partnership, and others like it, will be felt for years to come as our students and alumnae continue to develop into leaders in their workplaces.”

Trustee Kimberly C. (K.C.) Petillo-Décossard ’05 and her husband, Sakis Décossard, established the Women’s Leadership Initiative earlier this year through a leadership gift. The WLI has since received significant additional support from trustee Timothy O'Hara ’96 and his wife, Colleen O'Hara, and the latest investment from Harris Beach.

In its first months, the WLI hosted more than 250 participants for a Summer Series that included guest speakers sharing their real-world experiences in the legal profession, from building a solo firm to representing business clients. The WLI also organized a well-attended alumnae trailblazers panel during Reunion week.

“Meaningful commitments from partners such as Harris Beach will help us prepare women to drive change in their careers,” said Petillo-Décossard. “Sakis and I are thrilled that the Women’s Leadership Initiative is off to such a strong start. We’re looking forward to watching its further growth—and the successes of its participants.”

 The Women's Leadership Initiative is the ninth new endowed fund established during We Rise Together: The Campaign for Albany Law School, an ambitious fundraising effort to support student scholarships, innovation, and programs that make an impact on the community. The campaign has raised more than $28 million to date.

About Harris Beach

Founded in 1856, Harris Beach and its subsidiaries provide legal and professional services to clients across New York state, as well as nationally and internationally. Harris Beach is among the country’s top law firms as ranked by The National Law Journal and ranks as a BTI Elite law firm based on in-depth interviews of more than 600 corporate counsel at the world’s largest and most influential companies. Clients include Fortune 100 corporations, privately-held companies, emerging businesses, public sector entities, not-for-profit organizations and individuals. Principal industries Harris Beach represents include cannabis, education, energy, financial, food and beverage, health care, insurance, manufacturing, medical and life sciences, real estate developers, science and technology, veterinary medicine, and state and local governments and authorities. The firm's more than 210 lawyers and consultants practice from offices throughout New York state in Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse, and White Plains, as well as from offices in New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.