Making a Difference in the Legal Sector

As a highly respected leader at the 108-year-old law firm Ulmer & Berne LLP, Patricia Shlonsky was recently appointed the first woman Partner-in-Charge of its headquarters in Cleveland.

Under her recent appointment, she oversees the day to day operations of an 80 member team. With three decades of legal experience, the partner lives by the words “be involved and make a difference.”

Shlonsky is the first and only woman to have served on the firms’ Management Committee. She chairs the Employee Benefits and Tax Practice Groups and is the first and only woman to serve on the Compensation Committee. She also plays an integral role in Women in Law and Leadership, which supports and promotes the firms’ female attorneys and clients.

She represents clients in all types of employee benefit plans. She advises on employee benefit compliance issues, benefits issues that arise in mergers and acquisitions, privacy and data security issues under HIPAA, health benefits, executive compensation, and represents clients involved in governmental and private dispute resolution.

She said being a woman in the legal profession has been challenging and rewarding. “Women need to do it faster, smarter, and better, and it is amazing what you can accomplish. I have learned that the best way to help others is to stretch your comfort zone and get involved,” Shlonsky said.

Her colleagues describe her as an accomplished professional and effective mentor whose leadership provides younger female attorneys with an excellent example to follow. In an industry plagued by widespread underrepresentation of women leadership, they say she is one of the rare and incredibly important female voices in conversations that too often have been reserved only for men. With women being underrepresented at the management level in the legal industry, recent statistics show less than 20 percent of attorneys in leadership roles are women.

Among her many accolades, Shlonsky has been named Leader in the Field by Chambers USA, listed as one of the top 25 female attorneys in Cleveland by Super Lawyers, and named Best Lawyers’ Employee Benefits Law Lawyer of the Year. She also received a Client Choice Award from Lexology earlier this year, based on in-depth client research. She is vice president of the Board of Trustees of the Cuyahoga County Public Library and serves on the Board of the Cuyahoga County Public Library Foundation. She also serves on the Board of Directors at the Center for Community Solutions, where she chairs its Program and Policy Advisory Committee.

Shlonsky holds a bachelor’s degree from Miami University and law degree from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.