Women's Leadership InitiativeQ&A with Teresa Snider

Teresa Snider is co-chair of the firm's Reinsurance Litigation and Arbitration Practice Group. She focuses her practice on matters related to coverage and allocation, treaty interpretation, late notice, bad faith, misrepresentation and nondisclosure allegations, claim handling, actuarial standards for calculating IBNR, and agency issues. 

What advice would you give to women just starting out at a law firm? What are some important first steps they can take to lay the groundwork for a successful career?

All lawyers need to understand their role is not just to understand the legal aspects of a project, but also to figure out what their client wants to achieve and how best to achieve it. Remember that you have internal clients at the law firm in addition to the external clients. Think beyond the four corners of the project you have been assigned in order to understand how to add value to the matter.  Consider the purpose of the assignment and how it fits into the bigger picture. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to discuss your ideas with other attorneys. Communicating and collaborating with other lawyers is often the key to achieving a successful result. Be prepared. Look for mentors and for role models both inside and outside of the law firm.

What in one of the biggest issues that women lawyers face?

According to a 2018 study by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, female lawyers still face considerable gender bias. Women are more likely to be mistaken for non-lawyers, to be asked to do the non-legal office housework such as scheduling meetings, and to be interrupted. Over half of women lawyers had been mistaken for non-lawyers, compared to seven percent of men. The study also found that women are also more likely than men to be penalized for being assertive even though it is required by the job. Similarly, self-promotion is often important to success in the legal field but can be difficult for women to do in light of different social expectations for men and women. Even as law firms and corporations place more focus on gender equity, gender bias remains an issue for many women, particularly implicit bias. 

Tell us about your favorite thing to do outside of work.

My favorite thing to do is to spend time with my husband. He has a great sense of humor and can make me laugh even on the toughest days. To decompress, I also read books, including  mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, romance, and young adult books. I also read blogs about books to find new authors (or new-to-me authors) and upcoming releases.

Complete the sentence: “If I wasn’t an attorney, I would be a…”

During my senior year of college, my alternative career path was to go to graduate school and become a professor of English literature. I took both the GRE and the LSAT before ultimately deciding to go to law school. If the question is instead what would you do if you had to do something other than be a lawyer -- my answer would vary depending on my interests at the time and whether I had to make a living from the job. Alternate jobs under consideration would include cookbook author, chef, editor, gardener, needlepointer, hiking guide, and professional student.