Women’s History Month Spotlight Series: Jessica Cuddihy

March 14, 2024

As part of our Women’s History Month celebration, we’ve asked our colleagues to reflect on the significance of this month.

Cleary Gottlieb associate Jessica Cuddihy shares some of her thoughts below.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Cleary.

My name is Jessica Cuddihy. I grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from the University of San Francisco in 2014. I got my J.D. from Berkeley Law, where I served as an academic and career co-chair for the Women of Berkeley Law, and as a notes editor of the California Law Review. After law school, I spent a year clerking on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and I’m currently a third-year associate in the litigation group.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

It gives me an opportunity to reflect on the chances I’ve been given that were simply not available to women in the past. When I was in law school, I used to walk past frames and frames of pictures of all-male graduating classes, which is unthinkable today, even though there is still much work to be done when it comes to ensuring that women are represented at all levels of the legal profession. And even after women could be admitted to law school, many had to fight every step of the way, or justify their right to be admitted to the bar or to be hired by a firm. I would not be a lawyer if it were not for the women trailblazers before me who advocated for equality in the legal profession.

When you’re underrepresented in your chosen field, why is it important to have mentors and sponsors who are invested in you and your career?

I have been very lucky to have mentors and sponsors looking out for me because they’ve given me invaluable advice about my career trajectory that I wouldn’t have even known to ask for or given me opportunities that I didn’t realize until later were important steppingstones in my development.

What are the benefits of joining groups that focus on women’s topics and issues?

For me, the Women’s Working Group has given me a sense of community. The other associates on the Women’s Working Group leadership committee are some of my closest friends at Cleary and have become resources for me to rely on when it comes to navigating the firm or discussing my career goals.

Are there any programs at Cleary that you have been part of that have contributed to your professional journey and feeling included at the firm?

Last spring, the Women’s Working Group and the Women Lawyer Advisory Committee hosted a series of small-group dinners with women senior lawyers and junior associates. It was a lovely opportunity to get together outside of the office and learn about the senior lawyers’ career trajectories and about the experience of women in practice groups other than my own.

What is your favorite thing about working in the legal industry, and why did you choose to work at Cleary?

Working in the legal industry can be challenging but also very rewarding and intellectually stimulating. The law intersects with essentially every aspect of all of our lives, and learning it truly gives you another way to view the world.

I chose to come to Cleary because of the people: everyone I met when I was interviewing was interesting, smart, and kind, and that has proved itself to be an accurate representation of the people who work here.