Closing the Gender Gap in Law Firms

Leah Schleicher has built a successful legal career in the real estate sector while remaining dedicated to helping those around her, within both the legal profession and the community at large.

As a partner with the Chicago-based firm Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP, she represents clients in a wide-range of real estate matters including commercial real estate acquisitions and depositions, hotel and property management, leasing, and real estate finance. She also co-chairs the firm’s Hospitality & Leisure practice group and its Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and is a member of its Associate Review Committee.

Schleicher is a strong advocate for women in the community. From 2007-2013 she was a member of the board of directors of the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, which provides free legal services to survivors of domestic violence in Chicago, and she remains a supporter of the organization. She is currently a member of the board of directors of Housing Opportunities for Women, which implements prevention strategies and support services to the homeless.

Schleicher also recently participated in the inaugural Women in Law Hackathon, a shark tank-style pitch competition involving senior-level leaders from dozens of top law firms to devise initiatives to better retain and advance experienced women in law firms. “The legal industry has some work to do in terms of retention and promotion of women, but so does the rest of the world,” Schleicher said. “I don’t know of an industry that is hitting it out of the park in terms of retention and promotion of women. I think that women in the legal profession have a bit of a leg up in that our job is to advocate for clients. We should be able to use those skills to advocate for ourselves and our colleagues.”

While Schleicher is very analytical, as are many lawyers, she has also learned how important it is personally and professionally to rely on her gut instincts. She always knew she wanted to be a lawyer, and even when she had no idea how she would pay for law school, she followed that dream because it felt right. “I could have saved my former self a lot of worry if I had known that I had good gut instincts and that they can be trusted on big decisions. By making decisions geared to make me happy in my personal life, I really free myself up to pursue professional success.”

Schleicher, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and her law degree from Fordham University School of Law, began her practice in New York before moving to Chicago where she continued to build a successful legal career in the real estate sector while remaining dedicated to helping others.