50 Women to Watch

50 Women to Watch: Yesim Richardson

Yesim C. Richardson, President, Cornerstone Research

Yesim Richardson is the president of Cornerstone Research. Yesim specializes in applying economic and financial analysis to complex litigation involving securities, financial institutions, valuation, and real estate. She has worked with clients in various financial sectors as well as other industries, such as energy, telecommunications, high tech, and pharmaceuticals. She serves on Cornerstone Research’s board of directors, is chair of the firm’s DEI Council, and formerly led the financial institutions practice. Before joining Cornerstone Research, Yesim taught economics at Boston University and at Bilkent University in Turkey. She holds a B.A. from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Boston University.

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest recent achievement is helping our firm navigate the pandemic, including developing a hybrid policy with input from constituencies across our firm. This policy balances the benefits of increased flexibility with the important role that in-person mentoring and connections among our people play in providing best-in-class service to our clients.

Another point of pride is continuing to expand our firm’s DEI initiatives. These include establishing our DEI Council, building our firm’s vibrant affinity groups, and increasing our outreach to recruit candidates from underrepresented groups and backgrounds. These activities are close to my heart. As a female immigrant from a Muslim culture, I have always felt that I belong at Cornerstone Research. Now, as the firm’s president, it is my goal that our employees are empowered to bring their authentic selves to work and feel the same sense of belonging and community that I do.

I am most proud of how I have developed people and seen them succeed. I strive to pay forward the strong mentorship received early in my consulting career by mentoring others and encouraging my colleagues to do likewise. I have been lucky to mentor and work with amazingly talented people. It has been such a pleasure to watch them grow, reach senior leadership positions, and support the success of other colleagues. I believe how we invest in one another’s success will enable Cornerstone Research to deliver best-in-class service to our clients for generations to come.

What is the most influential piece of advice (professional or personal) you have received?

When I was a little girl, my father wrote a brief note in my diary: “To be happy, make others happy.” I did not understand what he meant then, but I was intrigued. I returned to the note occasionally and finally understood it when I got older.

Today, I often think about how my father’s advice relates to my personal and professional life. His advice clarifies that focusing on others brings far greater happiness than serving only your own needs. I have also come to understand that relying solely on yourself limits what you can achieve. For example, as a consultant, if you commit to helping your client as if their problem were your own, your chances of success are greater—and likely to be more gratifying—than if you focus simply on your personal outcomes. Working in a collaborative environment such as Cornerstone Research is much more rewarding than concentrating on my own success. My father’s advice has helped me maintain this perspective throughout my career.

Another piece of advice that vies for being “the best” came from my husband: “Just be yourself, and you will succeed.” His confidence in my abilities has encouraged me to serve confidently in increasingly senior leadership roles and to do my best to help our clients, experts, and people.

Where do you see the legal profession in 10+ years?

I am not a lawyer and would be remiss to opine on the future of the legal profession. However, from my perspective as a consultant to lawyers, experts, and other participants in the legal industry, I can comment on the potential future of economic consulting. Provided we stay nimble and attentive to new developments, I believe that as economic consultants, we will be increasingly able to help our clients in innovative ways. With so many technological advancements to date and more to come, analyses currently deemed impossible will soon become commonplace. Remaining at the forefront of these developments will require increased specialization and expertise in areas that may not exist today. For example, fifteen years ago, there was no such thing as cryptocurrency. Ten years ago, there were no NFTs. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been developing for decades, but its capabilities have grown exponentially in recent years. Subject to abiding by confidentiality requirements, AI is immensely promising, with the potential to expand the services we can offer to our clients and enhance our efficiency in delivering them. At the same time, exploring and appropriately harnessing new technologies and opportunities requires the knowledge and creative thinking that we already bring to bear on our daily work.

What is/are your favorite extracurricular activity/activities?

I have always loved reading and read a mix of classic and contemporary literature. Mysteries are a favorite, and I am particularly drawn to European authors. I also love biographies, especially of physicists and female trailblazers in law and politics.

I like solving puzzles and have my daily routine with Wordle, Worldle, the New York Times’ Spelling Bee, and Sudoku. I do crossword puzzles as well, but only on the weekend.

Walking is my favorite form of movement, and I try to fit as much of it in as possible. Walking in nature is great—I especially love walking by the ocean—and I am also a big fan of city walking. There are so many interesting things to observe, even during a short walk around town.

What I enjoy most is getting together with friends, which I try to do as much as I can.

Name your hometown/where you were born/where you grew up and where you live now.

I was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and grew up there. After graduating from college in Istanbul, I came to the U.S. to pursue a Ph.D. in economics at Boston University. I have lived in Boston since, apart from two years in Ankara, Turkey, where I taught at a business school.

If you were not a legal professional, what other line of work would you pursue?

During college, I was interested in becoming an investigative journalist and interned at a national daily newspaper. I was already studying economics and could not choose between the two professions. My supervisor at the newspaper recommended that I continue with economics and switch careers after graduation if I still wanted to. I went on to become an economist, but I will always have a bit of an investigative journalist in me as well. The challenges we address in complex litigation and regulatory matters demand strong research capabilities and analytical acumen—similar to the skills needed in investigative journalism. Working now as an economic consultant, I find it so fulfilling to be able to tie together my personal passions to support our clients and experts.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I am honored to have been chosen as one of CCBJ’s 2023 50 Women to Watch. Thank you.

More from the CCBJ Blog

More from the CCBJ Blog