Sheryl Willert defends bosses—
and reminds them to play fair
BY BOB GEBALLE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY REDSTONE PICTURES
· MANAGING DIREC TOR,
· EMPLOYMENT & LABOR
· WASHINGTON SUPER LAWYERS:
SHERYL WILLERT’S JOURNEY HAS TAKEN HER FROM A SEGREGATED
childhood in South Carolina to law school at Vanderbilt to a career
as one of the most respected employment attorneys in Washington
state—with a prestigious national award named in her honor.
“When Sheryl and I were starting out,” recalls Colleen Kinerk of
Cable, Langenbach, Kinerk & Bauer, “to have one female attorney
[at a firm] was unusual. To have a female attorney of color was
amazing. She broke a lot of glass ceilings.” Over the next three
decades, Willert became a top employment defense lawyer, dealing
with litigation involving both the public and private sectors, as well
as professional negligence, civil rights, personal injury, products
liability and contract matters.
Willert served as a deputy prosecuting attorney in King County
from 1978 to 1981, then moved to Williams Kastner, where she has
already served one six-year stint as managing director and is now
in her sixth year of a second stint. Every year, the nation’s largest
organization of civil defense attorneys, DRI–The Voice of the Defense
Bar, hands out the Sheryl J. Willert Pioneer Diversity Award to honor
commitment to diversity in the legal community.
Simultaneously straightforward and compassionate, Willert is an
easy person to talk to: a good listener, poised and energetic. A visitor
notes that she could easily have been a TV journalist.