Sharon Y. Bowen, partner - Latham & Watkins L.L.P., New York City
The youngest of five children, Sharon Bowen always had to explain and defend her positions to family members she affectionately refers to as “judge and jury.” “Few court cases have demanded more of me than my family,” says the Northwestern University graduate and spirited New York lawyer. Her childhood, filled with family deliberations, perpetual reading and years of participation on the high school debate team, proved to be her best career preparation, she says.
Bowen is a partner in the global law firm Latham & Watkins L.L.P. and a member of the firm’s corporate department. She represents corporations, financial and institutional clients—which include biotechnology, communications, entertainment, energy and financial companies—in a range of corporate, finance and securities transactions. Dubbed “the diversity advocate” by colleagues and friends, she vice-chairs Latham’s diversity committee and chairs the recruiting committee’s diversity hiring subcommittee. “I quickly surmised that few others would care about diversity if we, the diverse, didn’t,” she says.
From the beginning, Bowen sought to address why there were so few Black lawyers at large law firms in New York City. She helped establish Practicing Attorneys for Law Students (PALS), a mentoring and networking organization. Under her tutelage, Latham began to host an annual Diversity Weekend, where the firm’s attorneys get to know law student recruits. Bowen also was instrumental in launching the Latham Diversity Scholars Program to increase the number of diverse law students studying at American Bar Association–accredited law schools. “I’ve always considered my gender and race assets,” says the self-described optimist.
Through New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, she gives legal assistance to low-income and underrepresented New Yorkers. She also serves on the board of the New York City Economic Development Corp., Urban-America Inc., PENCIL (Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning) and the Northwestern University Law School and its Law Fund Board.
By Marcia Reed-Woodard