A Culture of Support Helps Partner Rosa D. Forrester Balance Family and Career
It would be an understatement, of course, to say that litigation is demanding work. The hours can be long. The pace is fast. The stakes are often high, and so too can be the stress levels.
“A lot of women leave litigation when they have kids,” said Rosa D. Forrester, a Newark-based partner in Goldberg Segalla’s Retail and Hospitality practice group. “I’m seeing fewer and fewer of us in court these days. You need a lot of support to do it, and most firms are not like GS in that regard.”
Rosa joined Goldberg Segalla in 2016, four years removed from law school. Coming from a small firm in Morristown, New Jersey, she was looking to advance her career and benefit from the array of resources and diversity a large firm could provide. It didn’t take long for Rosa to also realize the support Goldberg Segalla provides its staff extends to the personal, as well as the professional.
“I have two young daughters, both born when I was fairly new at GS, and I was nervous to go out on leave so early in my tenure. I shouldn’t have been. I felt so supported by the firm when I was on leave and newly returned to work,” said Rosa. “Not many firms make it easy or doable for women to maintain a litigation practice while also having a family. My practice group leaders have always made sure that I have been comfortable with my case load, and I was able to ease back in a way that benefitted my career and my family. I am lucky that I have the flexibility that GS provides.”
Rosa, who is also a member of Goldberg Segalla’s Civil Litigation and Trial practice group, said “while no two days are identical” at the firm, her approach is always the same, and designed with her daughters and clients in mind: “I try to work as efficiently as possible. I track my time as I go, and I try to stay ahead of my reporting. I want to show my girls that it is possible to balance a demanding career and family.”
Rosa also hopes to serve as an example to the firm’s younger female attorneys when it comes to work-life balance. “I don’t have any great tips or pointers, but I think it’s good to see someone who is doing it,” she said of balancing motherhood and a career as a litigator.
“What I can offer,” she said, “is my time. I want young female attorneys to see me in the office and feel comfortable reaching out to me,” whether they have questions about the profession, maternity leave or accommodations upon their return to work.
Throughout her career, Rosa has made it a point to be there others. For more than a decade she has done pro bono work for Partners for Women and Justice, an organization that guides domestic violence and sexual assault victims through the legal system.
“I find that the domestic-violence representation is a hands-on, intimate way to make an immediate impact on someone who is going through a dangerous time in their life,” she said, adding the work provides her the opportunity to use her litigation skills in a way that directly benefits the personal safety of others at a critical time.
Drawn to the legal profession primarily through an inherent sense of responsibility to others, Rosa said “I’ve also always been a big reader, and I enjoy writing and working independently. Being an attorney gives me the ability to do all of those things, while also interacting with a variety of different kinds of people on a daily basis. I love going to court, conferring with adversaries in the halls, and the gravity of appearing on behalf of our esteemed clients. I am so glad appearances are mostly back to pre-pandemic levels.”
Soon, she won’t only be interacting with different people in the courthouse. Rosa — whose parents were born in Italy — and her daughters recently became dual Italian citizens.
“It was my dad’s mission to have us become dual citizens,” she said. “He wants us to have that family legacy, and to remember where we came from. We hope to make a big trip over there to see family in the next few years. Everyone is so excited to put that passport to use!”