In her eleventh year as an attorney at Stinson LLP, Adine Momoh has much to celebrate. She has accomplished more in a decade than many do in a lifetime. In addition to her ever-expanding commercial litigation practice, she is a firm equity partner, a leader of numerous professional organizations, and a zealous pro bono and community advocate. At this significant milestone, Momoh says she is looking ahead eagerly and asking, “What’s next?”
Momoh is a professional of the first order. She brings uncommon vitality, intellect, creativity and is a trusted advisor when defending her clients in complex securities, banking, bankruptcy, and estates and trusts litigation disputes in state and federal courts. Always looking for opportunities to use her fierce trial skills in court or demonstrate her problem solving skills to avoid court all together, Momoh has built her practice by focusing on simply doing good work, being responsive and resilient, and learning the business of her clients, who are often in the banking and financial services, wealth management, and health insurance industries.
A first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Sierra Leone, West Africa, Momoh perceived her calling to be a lawyer at only 6 years old. She achieved the highest marks throughout her academic career, culminating in a stellar collegiate performance that included a triple undergraduate major, and finally, a law degree.
“My parents always instilled the values of education and working hard. They also taught me the importance of giving back and remaining humble. Those values really showcase themselves well in the legal profession. Sometimes, people are drawn to the legal profession because of a particular incident or life event. In my case, in a strange way, I feel the law was drawn to me. I never wavered from my path, and I have always wanted to make my parents proud.”
In law school, Momoh demonstrated a gift for thinking on her feet, and she excelled in both written and oral argument. She worked as a summer associate at what was then Leonard, Street and Deinard, P.A., and was invited to return as an associate attorney upon graduation.
“This is the only firm where I have been a practicing attorney. I felt it was the right place for me, especially with respect to their commitment to community, pro bono and diversity. This was originally a Jewish firm that started because at the time, hardly any firms in the Twin Cities would hire Jewish attorneys. That history resonated with me as a first-generation American and a black woman.”
Momoh has served on the firm’s recruiting committee and diversity and inclusion committee, giving her voice to issues surrounding attorneys of color at all stages of their careers.
“I know what it’s like to have a question you’re not comfortable asking, or not getting the work you want and not being sure if it’s because of your race or sex. I feel comfortable now being able to share that voice and perspective so the firm can continue to improve on the work it’s doing to help diverse attorneys succeed while they’re here.”
In Momoh’s view, the conversation about diversity and inclusion is intensifying in legal, business and nonprofit sectors, but there is still much work to be done.
“There is more talk about making sure an organization reflects the community it is trying to serve and partner with. And in the legal environment, people now understand that clients are demanding it and will likely get a better work product with a diverse team. But with respect to diversity, it’s not just about getting the numbers up. It’s also about doing the work to help people want to stay. That’s the hard work we haven’t quite figured out yet and that we don’t have the data for.”
Momoh added, “As human beings, we all want to be social and work in a place where we feel comfortable and where we can be authentic. At Stinson, we are working to improve our workplace culture to create a community without closed doors.”
Momoh recently completed her term as the first black woman and youngest attorney to serve as president of the 8,000 member Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) during its centennial year. A trial advocate who is ever ready to engage and take on her opponents in the courtroom, Momoh says that her role as president stretched her in new ways.
“I switched my mindset to be comfortable putting myself in places that make me uncomfortable, like speaking to crowds of several hundred people at a time about challenging issues of the day affecting not just the legal community, but the community at large.”
Those speaking engagements included discussions on racial equity and fairness in the state and federal courts, the status of women in the legal profession, among others.
“It was a very vulnerable position to find myself in. It certainly shaped me and changed the way I deal with my colleagues, community and family in a good way. I have become more self-aware and more present to the impact my words and actions can have.”
Momoh also learned “how to work more effectively with others as part of a team.”
This self-described “high-capacity person” says she takes a long-term view of things and likes to use her voice to help others. During her term as HCBA president, she spearheaded several initiatives, one involving attorney health and wellbeing.
“Soon, we will have a wellness conference in which the HCBA, MSBA and RCBA will allow members to come together to talk about wellness, in hopes of destigmatizing what people are going through. In the long-term, I convened a task force to look at attorney wellness, and that work is continuing under the current president.”
Part of “what’s next” for Momoh is her service as a national board member of the Federal Bar Association, which is, coincidentally, in its centennial year. She will also be chairing the FBA’s Younger Lawyers Division, the FBA’s largest division. Momoh is again prepared with clear goals for her term of office.
“The FBA’s mission is to advocate for federal practitioners and judges with respect to issues of a federal nature. Some of the organization’s key constituents have been public sector attorneys. It’s hard nowadays for many to be involved because of time and budget constraints. I’m trying to find ways that we can have more programming that is tailored to what public sector attorneys need and offset their costs. Through the FBA, I’ve also met several attorneys who serve in the military and JAG, and I’m curious about what issues these younger attorneys in the military are facing — young parents, diverse attorneys and LGBTQ+. I’m working to get a new YLD board member representative from the military to help us address these issues.”
As Adine Momoh anticipates the next part of her career, she is also looking back with gratitude for the people who have helped her on the journey so far. “I first give credit to God and my family, and then to the supportive colleagues here and in the community who have helped me and believed in me. I know there is more work left to do, and I still have the drive and purpose to accomplish it. I’m excited for the opportunities yet to come and for the people I will meet, work with and be able to help.”