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W&L Highlights Our Women Legal Leaders

June 14, 2021
Home Firm News W&L Highlights Our Women Legal Leaders

Weitz & Luxenberg would not be where we are today without our highly accomplished women attorneys. We are proud that our overall attorney roster has such a high percentage of women, a number that has been ever-increasing since our origins in the mid-1980s.

We can’t imagine reaching our new goals without the leadership of our senior women practitioners. We pay tribute to our three female department chairs and highlight these attorneys who are making an indelible mark upon our firm and tort law in general.

Lisa Nathanson Busch

Lisa Nathanson Busch is the managing attorney of the firm’s Asbestos Bankruptcy Department. Not only does she litigate in the Bankruptcy Court, she also chairs numerous creditor’s committees, as well as oversees all claims filed with the trusts. She oversees new asbestos exposure cases the firm accepts.

Ms. Busch joined W&L as an associate attorney in 1994. Originally, she litigated silicone breast implant injury claims. Later, we assigned her to our asbestos litigation team, a dynamic growth area of the firm.

Were you inspired by one or more particular women attorneys or jurists when you chose to make your career in law?

Growing up, I don’t remember having a specific female lawyer as a role model. But I absolutely remember when Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. I knew and recognized what a big deal that was at the time.

What elements of the work environment at W&L have enabled you to flourish in your practice?

Definitely independence and flexibility. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the firm’s encouragement and support. I was right out of law school when I joined the firm; that was about 27 years ago. Weitz & Luxenberg was still a pretty young law firm at that time, with only about 17 or 18 attorneys. I have watched the firm grow exponentially and have been lucky to work with amazing and supremely dedicated colleagues.

Also, computers were still fairly new at that time, they weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now. I happened to work with computers before joining W&L and had a strong business sense. The firm let me run with those strengths. Mass tort litigation brings with it large amounts of data, and accuracy and organization are prerequisites for the administration of a successful litigation.

One of my first areas of litigation involved around 6,000 defective breast implants. That’s a lot to keep track of. I needed to stay organized. Because I was good with computers, I was able to help build electronic databases — that was an incredibly rewarding experience. The firm made it possible for me to work independently and set my own pace and grow into a leadership role at a young age.

The firm also provided me with great flexibility. I have kids and I will always be thankful Weitz & Luxenberg allowed me to pursue my career goals but also make time for my family.

What would you advise women law students who are considering a career in mass tort law?

Each mass tort is different, from the science to the defendants. You need to educate yourself by watching, listening, and reading. Finding someone to help you learn and grow would be a tremendous opportunity. A mentor can make all the difference.

Ellen Relkin

Ellen Relkin is chair of the W&L Defective Drugs and Devices Practice Group. She is admitted to practice law in four states throughout the northeast corridor and in many federal trial and appellate courts.

Ms. Relkin has received numerous accolades and honors including being an elected member of the American Law Institute and the American Bar Foundation, and former president of the Pound Civil Justice Institute, as well as serving on the Board of Governors of the New Jersey Association for Justice. In addition, she has a history of being appointed by federal and state judges to key leadership roles overseeing complex, national litigation.

Were you inspired by one or more particular women attorneys or jurists when you chose to make your career in law?

Judge Sylvia Pressler. I clerked for her from 1984 until 1985. This woman was phenomenal. She served as the Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court.

Judge Pressler was an amazing jurist and regarded by many as the smartest judge in New Jersey. She pioneered women’s rights and civil rights before they became part of mainstream litigation. She authored the New Jersey Court Rules treatise while juggling her appellate responsibilities. This would have been a big deal for anyone at the time but it was especially remarkable for a woman because the legal profession itself was still dominated by men.

On top of all that, she was a devoted mother, juggling attending after-school functions while moments later writing precedential jurisprudence. She had this extraordinary career, but one of the biggest lessons she taught me was the importance of family. And maintaining balance in your life.

What elements of the work environment at W&L have enabled you to flourish in your practice?

For one, the firm’s support of my involvement in professional societies. I’m able to travel all over the country to attend meetings and participate in a number of organizations, like the American Association for Justice. Also the Roscoe Pound Civil Justice Institute. Weitz & Luxenberg has afforded me the discretion to do the things I think are meritorious.

The firm has also supported the litigations I handle. They contribute to the assessments required for serving in leadership roles on steering committees and make it possible for me to put together the most robust case possible when it comes to managing discovery, and retaining top experts. Many law firms would balk at that, but Weitz & Luxenberg supports those efforts.

What would you advise women law students who are considering a career in mass tort law?

Get experience in individual cases from start to finish. Holistic training is critical. Work your way up into mass tort cases by building a strong foundation in basic tort practice and learn the importance of the attorney-client relationship. After all, attorneys exist to represent clients. Also, get involved. Pick a professional association to join. Volunteer.

Robin Greenwald

Robin Greenwald is a renowned environmental and consumer class action attorney. She joined the firm in 2005 as one of our distinguished of counsel attorneys and manages the firm’s Environmental, Toxic Torts, and Consumer Protection Practice Group.

For more than 36 years, she has litigated environmental cases, typically on a grand scale. Many have involved hazardous chemicals and crimes against the environment. Often, she held a key leadership role, as she did for the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and does for our recent litigation involving the weed killer Roundup.

Before joining the firm, Ms. Greenwald also handled environmental civil cases for the U.S. Department of Justice — both the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Department of Justice, Environmental Crimes Section.

Earlier, she served as deputy chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, New York. Other positions she held include: assistant chief of legislation, policy, and special litigation of the Environmental Crimes Section in Washington, D.C., and general counsel for the Inspector General in the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Were you inspired by one or more particular women attorneys or jurists when you chose to make your career in law?

My primary female role model during college and law school was Jane Goodall. Her passion for animals and the planet has always served as an inspiration for me and hopefully all living beings. These remain core values for me in my litigation work.

What elements of the work environment at W&L have enabled you to flourish in your practice?

I have been gifted by an extraordinary group of colleagues, both in my unit and throughout the firm. Also, the firm gives us wide latitude to take on large, complex cases that, if successful, will bring about important societal change.

Litigating these types of cases requires considerable human and monetary resources, and without that firm commitment, corporations would continue to get away with conduct that harms people and society as a whole. Last, I have awesome colleagues — both lawyers and paralegals — and I could not have succeeded in any of my cases without them as teammates.

What would you advise women law students who are considering a career in mass tort law?

Be true to who you are. You can be successful without following in the old tradition of lawyering.

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