Newly created chief attorney talent role aims to be an exemplar among legal services for cultivating holistic attorney success and well-being
MINNEAPOLIS (January 10, 2022) — Nilan Johnson Lewis (NJL) is pleased to announce that seasoned executive leader and lawyer Sara Gross Methner has joined the law firm as chief attorney talent officer and senior counsel. In addition to working as a practicing attorney for NJL’s corporate and transactional services team, she holds an important new C-level leadership position within the firm that oversees all aspects of attorney development strategies, including attorneys’ integration into the firm, professional formation, practice management, career path planning and navigation, and—critically—holistic well-being.
“I’m thrilled to be at a values-driven firm that has very intentionally created its distinct culture — and to be in a position to help facilitate even closer alignment between organizational and individual attorney goals,” said Gross Methner. “With the challenges of hybrid work, the differing developmental experiences and expectations of multiple generations, and the imperatives of diversity, equity, inclusion, and well-being, the legal profession has a tremendous need and opportunity to develop systematic and sustainable ways to help our colleagues build fulfilling careers that contribute to a joyful and healthy life. Frankly, our firm aspires to be so good at this that we become a role model for the profession. We are excited to learn from and collaborate with our clients and others in our industry committed to this work.”
Gross Methner’s work experience spans three continents and service to industries including legal services, financial services, higher education, and government. Many of her positions have entailed new and/or dual roles, a result of her being energized by continuous learning and the ability to bring clarity to complexity. She received her J.D., with distinction, from Stanford Law School after graduating Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Wellesley College in Chinese language and literature.
Following time as a U.S. House of Representatives legislative assistant and as a law firm lawyer advising clients on corporate governance, securities regulation, M&A, compensation, and more, she joined Piper Jaffray Companies (now Piper Sandler) in a series of newly created roles that included moving to Hong Kong to help manage the firm’s Asia business and later serving as the firm’s International General Counsel. She then became the University of St. Thomas’ first General Counsel, building the legal department, advising across the full range of university operations, and advancing transformative governance initiatives. Non-legal leadership roles Gross Methner has held throughout her career include head of compensation, chief administrative officer, and chief human resources officer.
An active community member and trusted mentor and peer who has been a champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion, her local board roles include having served as volunteer director and officer of DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis and the YWCA St. Paul. She also has served on national boards in the field of higher education, which is one of the areas in which she focuses her legal practice.
“Legal careers can be very fulfilling, but national data reveals that the high-achieving, high-stakes, and highly complex nature of legal work takes tolls on professionals and their personal lives,” said Heidi Christianson, NJL board member and immediate past president. “Sara’s addition gives our firm a dedicated, in-house resource to keep constant focus on this dynamic – one where we ensure these tensions are discussed openly and managed intentionally, meaningful research and data are applied, and truly fulfilling next-generation legal careers are forged. We will benefit from Sara’s ability and past success in understanding and untangling complex matters, systematically creating improvements, galvanizing resources, and instilling a sense of belonging.”
Our clients will benefit, too, not just from Sara’s deep legal subject-matter knowledge but from her extensive administrative and leadership experience. Sara deeply understands how to optimize resources and ensure brand integrity while considering the legal and governance implications of various strategies.”
The creation of this chief attorney talent officer role is the latest of many innovations throughout NJL’s 26-year existence. There is a track record of disrupting the traditional, hierarchical style of law. The independent, women-owned, mid-sized firm bases its management on principles of trust, excellence, diversity, innovation, profitability, and community, and places a premium on teamwork and deep expertise. As a result, the firm has achieved some rare feats, including becoming one of the nation’s largest certified women-owned law firms, earning numerous high rankings of best law firm for diversity, and being named as a prestigious “Value Champion” by the Association of Corporate Counsel.
About Nilan Johnson Lewis
Nilan Johnson Lewis is an innovative, independent, women-owned law firm that is a first choice for organizations across the country seeking deep expertise to solve their complex business challenges and disputes. Diversity is a core founding value of NJL. In 2022, the firm became certified as a women-owned business by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), a significant milestone in NJL’s ongoing commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace and being a law firm that delivers exceptional results by celebrating and advancing the diversity of members and clients. The firm has deep expertise in five areas of law: corporate and transactional services, labor and employment, health care, business litigation and product liability/complex tort litigation. Learn more at nilanjohnson.com.