Rita O’Neill, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Sullivan & Cromwell, epitomizes a combination of outstanding leadership, community impact and the kind of impeccable professionalism that is recognized and esteemed by both her S&C colleagues and leaders in the community. O’Neill’s strategic and fresh thinking, coupled with her ability to distill key issues and deliver practical legal advice, has made her a trusted advisor to her clients in their most complex transactions.

In January 2016, O’Neill was appointed vice chair of the American Bar Association’s Women in M&A Task Force, a group whose goal is to increase the participation and retention of women in the area of mergers and acquisitions. Recently, she has dedicated time to fostering the participation of women leaders across the country to advance and promote women in the legal profession. She is also a member of S&C’s Women’s Initiative Committee and maintains an active pro bono practice, partnering with organizations like the Alliance for Children’s Rights.

“To truly foster a culture of diversity and inclusion, we must work to promote diverse people in positions of leadership and authority,” says O’Neill. “At Sullivan & Cromwell, for example, fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment is essential to providing our clients with the highest level of service,” she explains. “Law firms that are more diverse are able to recruit and retain top talent with a range of backgrounds, perspectives and life experiences. This diversity of viewpoints allows us to address complex legal issues with greater creativity and offer the best solutions for our clients.”

O’Neill offers this advice to women professionals: “As you build your career, someone at some point will tell you that you cannot accomplish something. Don’t let this negative energy get in the way of what you are doing. Work hard, earn the trust of your clients and colleagues, be assertive and trust the process. Turn the negative energy into positive action.” And, she adds, “It is OK to love your work.”