Baker McKenzie announced Wednesday the appointment of parental leave policy advocate Regine Corrado, a partner in its corporate and securities group, as managing partner of its office in Chicago, where the global legal giant has its roots.
“I have, in my career, many times been the only woman in the room or the only woman in the group,” Corrado said. “So it’s fantastic to embrace those leadership opportunities and make way for the next generation and show good leadership to our younger colleagues.”
Corrado will succeed real estate partner Michael Smith as head of the firm’s 250 lawyers in the Windy City, where Baker McKenzie was founded in 1949. Born and raised in Germany, Corrado first joined the firm in 1991 in San Francisco, where earlier this week Baker McKenzie named Barbara Klementz as its new California managing partner.
“I take my role as role model very seriously,” Corrado said. “[I] enjoy the opportunity that I have here in this office [and] to show and also encourage our younger female colleagues to first little—and then larger and very large—leadership roles.”
Corrado has a cross-border practice that focuses on the coordination and implementation of cross-border corporate transactions and restructurings. She also works with U.S. multinationals and their international operations on corporate and foreign investment compliance.
During her three-year tenure as Baker McKenzie’s new Chicago leader, Corrado’s main goal is to bring the firm’s practice group offerings closer together to meet client expectations, whether it be looking for deep, substantive knowledge in a particular practice area, or industry expertise particular to the Chicagoland region and the Midwest.
“[Corrado] has excellent credentials to be our managing partner in Chicago and is greatly respected both internally and by our clients,” said a statement by Baker McKenzie’s North America managing partner Colin Murray, who assumed his role earlier this month after leading the firm’s Golden State operations. “I look forward to working with her in the Chicago market, and as part of the North America leadership team.”
Corrado, who heads Baker McKenzie’s North America women’s initiative and sits on the firm’s regional diversity and inclusion committee, plans on making the promotion of parental and family leave policies a centerpiece of her time in leadership. She utilized such a program while rising through the ranks at the firm. For six years, Corrado worked part-time at Baker McKenzie while raising a daughter and stepdaughter.
“At the time, I was very enthusiastic and embraced the opportunity that I could do both,” said Corrado, whose clients now include companies like Ingredion Inc. “I could have a very interesting job, work on very interesting projects and matriculate every year just like my peers—and at the same time could cook dinner at home every night, spend time with my kids and have my little night shift after they went to bed.”
Corrado blames a lack of follow through and communication in the legal industry for the sparse usage of parental leave programs. She said she will challenge practice group leaders to promote and encourage Baker McKenzie lawyers to take advantage of parental leave programs.
“We have seen in the press many firms have policies for nonprimary caretakers to take time off and that is not really done,” said Corrado, adding that she also hopes to encourage firm employees to use flexible workplace programs. “We want our people to take advantage of [those policies]. I will be in a much better position [as managing partner] to support our people to take advantage to the fullest extent, including dads.”