In its commitment to innovation, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt has named a new CEO to run the 125-year-old law firm.
Graciela Gomez Cowger started her newly created role on Oct. 7 and said she is excited about her new adventure in helping navigate the company through its multi-year strategic plan that started two years ago. The plan focuses on providing industry-tailored legal advice to each client’s specific industries, rather than offering a delivery model with traditional legal practice areas. Her primary role will be to help lead the company through this time of transition while continuing to deliver outstanding service to the firm’s steadily growing client base.
“It is an exciting time at Schwabe and I am thrilled to be part of the firm’s approach to doing things differently,” Gomez Cowger said.
The company’s primary industry focus areas are healthcare, technology, transportation, ports & maritime, real estate & construction, natural resources and manufacturing, distribution & retail.
Raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Gomez Cowger has business and law in her blood. Her father was a Mexican customs agent and her mother owned and operated a small convenience store in Tijuana. She was raised bilingual and immigrated to the United States to attend college at San Diego State University. There, she earned an electrical engineering degree and after that, worked as a design engineer for Hewlett-Packard. She then decided to pursue law school and graduated with a law degree from the University of Washington.
A resident of Clark County for more than 20 years, Gomez Cowger shares that her background as an immigrant and as a Latina engineer and patent attorney (both fields predominately populated by males) has taught her resilience, which she recognizes will help her in her new role as CEO.
“I am nothing if not tenacious in my pursuit of purposeful goals, like mastering electromagnetic theory in engineering school (my most difficult class ever) or helping my clients succeed in their markets,” Gomez Cowger said. “In everything, I strive for an excellence that allows for disappointments and prioritizes improvement over perfection. As a Latina who succeeded in engineering and the law, I have a unique perspective on the value of diverse viewpoints and experiences that will help Schwabe stay committed to attracting top talent from every community.”
Gomez Cowger believes that Schwabe’s commitment to innovation and diversity go hand in hand and will yield overwhelmingly positive results as the company recruits more attorneys and staff.
“I am proud to say that about a third of Schwabe’s intellectual property group is made up of women and underrepresented minorities,” she said. “And this has happened primarily organically based on a culture that welcomes diverse viewpoints. Schwabe believes that diversity brings measurable value to our clients in the form of creative and innovative solutions to complicated problems.”
The company is also dedicated to building strong communities throughout Southwest Washington and this has been evidenced for the last 20 years as attorneys and staff have been very involved in civic, charitable and professional organizations throughout the area including Identity Clark County, the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and more.
Gomez Cowger plans to listen and adapt the company’s legal services to the various needs of their client base.
“We are always asking how we can better serve our world-class clients,” she said. “That’s why we fundamentally changed how we provide services. Clients are telling us they want more than high-quality legal support; they want partners with deep experience in their industry. Our attorneys are empowered to become masters of their clients’ industries and we are changing the culture of our firm to support this industry focus, which is further demonstrated in our most recent shift to a single CEO model.”