“It’s not just a matter of ensuring that people have a seat at the table, but making sure they know where the table is, how to get there and that the table exists in the first place,” reflects Ginene Lewis of the Vanguard Group.
As head of defensive litigation and legal spend management, Lewis leads two separate teams at the investment company. She emphasizes the role that mentorship has played in her career and how it has inspired her to pass on that spirit of advocacy and access to the next generation of students.
Initially, Lewis confesses, she didn’t specifically want to go into law, but always had a passion for understanding issues and unpacking them for people. “I’m not certain I knew at a young age what a lawyer really was,” she remembers. “I wasn’t exposed to lawyers and didn’t see a lot of lawyers on television. But I was always asking questions to understand why things are the way they are.”
By the time she was at Spelman College, she understood how her interests and disposition towards justice could help her zero in on law as her vocation. Around that time, she also became a mother. “As a young mother around peers who did not have the same responsibility at that particular time, I was determined to push through,” reflects Lewis. “I credit my success to my own mother and the spiritual strength that she gave me as well as the mentors that have always rooted for me.”
Lewis went on to receive her JD from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, where she explored many different areas of the law. Upon graduation, and before heading to Drinker, Biddle & Reath as a litigation associate, she clerked with the Honorable Petrese B. Tucker in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The clerkship had an immense impact on Lewis’s formation.
Through Judge Tucker, Lewis saw up close the sacrifices that came with being a “first” and how, even in her position, Tucker deeply respected every member of her team. “She said to me that the best of the best will walk into my courtroom and as my law clerk, I want you to never forget that you are one of the best of the best,” Lewis remembers.
About five years into her tenure at Drinker, Biddle & Reath, Lewis was offered the opportunity to go in-house at Vanguard. “I call it a leap of faith when describing my transition to Vanguard,” says Lewis, who originally planned on pursuing the partnership track.
In addition to juggling the dual roles of head of defensive litigation and legal spend management, Lewis is passionate about boosting equity and access through meaningful efforts in opportunity awareness among young diverse students.
“One of my proudest moments at Vanguard was working with colleagues in our black employee resource group to lay the foundation for Vanguard’s talent attraction strategy at historically Black colleges and universities [HBCUs],” she says. “This was especially meaningful to me because I am the product of a HBCU.”
Lewis fondly recalls how mentors and advocates in both her professional and personal life helped her. She affectionately refers to them as her “personal board of directors.” “My mentors continue to root for me,” she says. “They are not rooting for Ginene, the head of defense of litigation and legal spend management, Ginene the lawyer, or Ginene the Vanguard employee. They are rooting for Ginene the whole person and want to see me at my best.”
Her mentors’ commitment also taught her the importance of lifting as she climbs. “For me, true success is being in a position to pay it forward,” she says. “This journey is about using my influence to make a positive influence in the lives of others just as others have done for me.”
“Destined for Greatness. When Ginene Lewis left our firm to join Vanguard, we knew she was destined for great things. We have watched her career bloom and have reveled in her successes.”
–Sandy Grannum, Partner
“Ginene is the perfect client. She is smart, intuitive, no nonsense and decisive. She challenges herself and others to do better every single day. Ginene will never compromise her own values or those of Vanguard.”
–Paula D. Shaffner, Chair, Securities Litigation