Advocating for Diversity across the Legal Profession

For two decades, attorney Denise M. Sharperson has successfully advocated for increased diversity initiatives across the legal profession.

As assistant general counsel and director of diversity initiatives at the New Jersey State Bar Association, Sharperson has substantially increased the number of diverse attorneys involved with the association and raised the bar for diversity and inclusion across the New Jersey legal community.

The NJSBA Office of Diversity and Inclusion emerged last year and is charged with developing initiatives for catapulting D&I to the forefront of the New Jersey legal community. Under Sharperson’s direction, the association has developed innovative programs and spearheaded events garnering record-breaking participation and attendance.

She says her biggest career leap had been transitioning back into full-time legal work after several years as a stay-at-home mom. “I quickly realized that work life balance is an allusive concept. You just do the best you can and keep it moving,” she said.

Sharperson says being a woman in the legal profession is similar to being an orchestra conductor trying to get everyone to play at the appropriate time and in the right key. “Women leaders need to have grit,” she said. “In my opinion, grit is that inner spirit that will keep you going on a project even when everyone gives up or thinks that you are crazy for persevering to the end,” she added.

Sharperson is an active member of the Garden State Bar Association, Morris County Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. In addition, she is a diamond life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and a member of the Morris County Chapter of Jack and Jill of America.

Among her many accolades, earlier this year she received the Garden State Bar Associations’ Oliver Randolph Award for her dedication to advancing the goals of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. She holds a law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law and is a top fundraiser for the March of Dimes.