January 27, 2009


Pioneering banking attorney honored for commitment to increasing diversity in law firms and promoting work/life balance

NEW YORK -The New York State Bar Association will honor Marissa C. Wesely of New York(Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP) with the 2009 Kay Crawford Murray Award. The award, sponsored by the Committee on Women in the Law, honors a member who recognizes the value of diversity in the legal profession and who has dedicated his or her time to advancing the professional development of women attorneys. Wesely will receive the award today at the Association's Annual Meeting in New York.

"Since she began her law career, Marissa C. Wesely has worked diligently to not only increase the diversity within her law firm, but also to provide female and minority attorneys with guidance and insight into what it takes it to become a great attorney," said Committee on Women in the Law Chair Taa R. Grays of New York(MetLife). "Her dynamic leadership and commitment to mentoring are a testament to Kay Crawford Murray's lasting example of women helping other women."

A magna cum laude graduate of Williams College and cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, Ms. Wesely is a senior banking partner of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP where she was the fifth female attorney to make partner in the firm. She currently chairs the firm's Women's Committee. Among her achievements as chair were her firm's adoption of a revised Flexible Work Arrangements Policy and a substantial increase in the amount of paid maternity leave.

Ms. Wesely has served on her firm's Recruiting Committee for 16 years, including six years as chair. Under her leadership, nearly 30 percent of summer associates were of color and 50 percent were women. In some years, the percentage of minority students was as high as 46 percent and women outnumbered men. She co-chaired her firm's Diversity Task Force in 2007.

Ms. Wesely also is one of the co-founders of the Kate Stoneman Project, a leadership group for the women partners at the Big 10 New York-headquartered private law firms.

The award is named for past Committee on Women in the Law Chair Kay Crawford Murray. During Ms. Murray's tenure as chair of the Committee on Women in the Law, she raised awareness of women's issues, spearheading a report that urged the Association to propose a model policy for childbirth and parenting as a guideline for law firms. She received the inaugural award in 2008.

The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New Yorkand the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, State Bar programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.