Wyche law firm breaks glass ceiling for women leaders

Whenever she talks about her days as South Carolina’s first female fighter pilot, Tally Parham Casey, who now runs the Wyche Law Firm, enjoys recounting a conversation between her daughter, Mia, then 3, and her son Wyatt, then 5.

“One day she said to him, ‘Wyatt, boys can’t be lawyers, only girls can!

Today Lt. Col. Casey, a former South Carolina Air National Guard F-16 pilot who has deployed to Iraq three times, is Wyche’s CEO and chairman of the executive committee.

And now, as part of the company’s centennial Centennial Legacy Project, Wyche is teaming up with the Greenville Center for the Creative Arts to present the “City of Women”. The exhibition, scheduled for spring, reinvents a community where monuments are named after notable women, rather than reserving the honor for eminent men.

Of course, Wyche’s name comes from its all-male founders, but nowadays women make up 60% of the executive leadership there. In addition, according to the firm, four of the six lawyers promoted to shareholder in 2020-2021 were women.

And why not? After all, in Roman and Greek mythology, a woman represents justice; The Lady Justice headband was introduced in the 16th century – and modern numbers seem to remain gender blind.

Meliah Bowers Jefferson
Meliah Bowers Jefferson

In the United States, female lawyers make up about half of the average law firm, while only about 25% of women and less than 4% of women of color are in suite C, according to a report by the National Association of Law Placement. last February. This is a statistically imperceptible change since a McKinsey & Company survey in October 2017.

Not in Wyche, where Meliah Bowers Jefferson is a shareholder and president of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

Immediately after graduating from the University of South Carolina Law School, she served as law clerk for Jean Toal, the first female chief justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

“I saw her lead and I knew it was possible for me,” says Jefferson, who specializes in commercial litigation and intellectual property.

When she joined Wyche in 2013, she said, “I didn’t have to be distracted or spend my time thinking or working to overcome the stigma that might be attached to being a woman or woman. , even more, a woman of color. “

As Jefferson and Casey point out that women have been at the corporate table for decades, Rita Bolt Barker adds to their voices.

“Obviously Tally, Meliah and I were all looking for a firm where, as Meliah said, the opportunity was given,” says Barker, a 2004 Harvard Law School graduate whose specialties include environmental work, litigation commercial and insurance coverage.

Oh, and Barker chairs Wyche’s recruiting committee. More women, more diverse opinions and, as she calls it, a healthy environment attract better talent while fostering retention.

Jefferson goes on to highlight a few points that may seem obvious, but seem overlooked: Providing career development opportunities today nurtures the leaders of tomorrow.

“When we are able to cultivate leadership in women within our walls,” she says, “that also cultivates leadership outside our walls. “

Meet the Women Leaders of Wyche

Rita Bolt Barker, joined Wyche in 2007
Environmental work, commercial litigation, insurance coverage
Chairs the firm’s recruitment committee
Harvard Law School 2004

Tally Parham Casey, joined Wyche in 2000
CEO and Chairman of the Executive Committee of Wyche
Commercial and stock market litigation, healthcare and qui tam litigation (a type of whistleblower lawsuit), product liability, insurance and aerospace law
University of Virginia Law School, 1996

Jo Hackl, joined Wyche in 1989
Corporate governance and corporate law and securities law.
Author of bestselling children’s books
Yale Law School, 1988

Meliah Bowers Jefferson, joined Wyche in 2013
Business and intellectual property litigation
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Chair
University of South Carolina Law School, 2005

Inez Tenenbaum, joined Wyche in 2016
Leads the practice of consumer product safety and business risk management.
Former State Superintendent of Education, Chairman of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission
University of South Carolina Law School, 1986

Source: LinkedIn

“City of Women”

The Greenville Center for the Creative Arts is calling for applications for a “City of Women” exhibition which will run from March 4 to April 27, 2022.

The show aims to “shine a light on historical and contemporary women who have had a significant impact on the community that we are today in the areas of health care and wellness, education, economic opportunity. , science and technology, civic engagement and arts and culture ”. says the AMCC.

The free public exhibition includes a virtual gallery and a special jury exhibition.

Submission deadline: midnight EST, January 6.

For more information visit the AMCC website