Spotlight on Ross Moskowitz: Finalist for Chambers ‘Outstanding Ally’ Award
Stroock and its lawyers have been shortlisted for five Diversity & Inclusion Awards from Chambers USA this year. In this article, we profile Ross Moskowitz, a finalist in the “Outstanding Ally” category, which recognizes a partner who has shown an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession as an ally for diverse groups. Click here to see our other finalists.
When new associates gather in a Stroock conference center for their introduction to the firm, one of the first leaders they hear from is Ross Moskowitz.
As a member of Stroock’s executive committee and one of the top real estate lawyers in New York, it’s part of his job description to officially bring onboard the incoming class.
It’s a responsibility he treats with the utmost seriousness — particularly the opportunity it provides to promote inclusion from day one. When preparing these remarks, Ross has an extensive track record to draw on.
He has served for more than 10 years on Stroock’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, which he now co-chairs. And when the firm’s LGBT Affinity Group was in need of a senior leader, Ross, who is not LGBT, stepped in and chaired that group for a number of years.
“To be an ally, you have to be present,” Ross says. “Participate. Literally walk the walk. You never know when you will have the opportunity to make the key introduction.”
Promoting Affinity Groups
At the turn of the 21st century, when Stroock began to form what ultimately became its affinity groups, Ross was central to these initial efforts.
Because these types of programs were rare at law firms at the time, Ross took cues from corporate clients — in particular, a major financial institution that Stroock works with — in charting a course at Stroock and helping to launch the affinity groups in 2004.
Ross helped define the five objectives that guide the groups to this day: enhance personal and business skills, provide the firm with guidance about the issues that concern affiliated communities, enhance cultural awareness, establish mentoring relationships, and provide business networking opportunities.
He also came up with and implemented the groups’ motto: All ideas are welcomed and encouraged.
“We have conversations in our affinity groups from staff to associates to senior partners to the heads of the firm,” Ross says. “And I don’t think anyone who comes to the meetings in our affinity groups feels their voice isn’t heard. For me, that’s the top priority.”
There are currently seven affinity groups at Stroock: Attorneys of Color; Community Outreach; Health & Wellness; Lateral Associate Affinity Group; SSLGBT — the Affinity Group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Allied Attorneys; SWAG — the Stroock Women’s Affinity Group; and Working Families.
Notably, Ross has led the creation of the firm’s Health & Wellness Group.
That group came about in 2013, when Ross was giving a talk to attorneys about meditation in his daily life. A lawyer at the firm asked him to put a group together to discuss mindfulness, and he joined with a Stroock lawyer who is a yoga enthusiast. They organized a lecture from a nutritional expert, and the group was born.
Today the group is one of the few law firm wellness groups open to both lawyers and staff, and it maintains one of the most robust programs around. Its activities include Soul Cycle, meditation, yoga and healthy eating.
In fact, it’s been shortlisted for a national Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Award that recognizes wellness programs. (Click here to read more on that program.)
Guiding the Firm
Upon joining Stroock’s executive committee in 2012, Ross has provided a welcoming ear from the top for its affinity groups, helping to ensure that many of the ideas they generate would become firm policy.
This has included policies to aid working parents, mandatory, firmwide implicit bias training, and the implementation of a “Courageous Conversations” initiative, which promotes inclusion and understanding by creating awareness of employees’ perspectives related to differences in background, experience or viewpoints.
He also keeps an open door for all of the firm’s lawyers and staff. In doing so, he draws inspiration from the book “Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder” — particularly its theme that an elder must be willing to learn as well as teach.
The result is an approach whose aim is to foster collaboration that leads to tangible results.
“As an ally, you need to show up. You need to listen,” Ross says. “And then you need to use the position of an ally and push the action through.”
Congratulations to Ross on this well-deserved recognition!
“Inside Look” is a new feature profiling Stroock and its lawyers.