The Dinner was an informal gathering of African American clients and prospective clients of Austin partner Leonard Woods and of business and educational leaders from the Austin community. The event was held on August 9th, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. Invited guests participated in a round-table discussion relating to a number of diversity related issues. Each table also had its own impromptu discussion.

Pictured from left to right are: Austin partner Leonard Woods, Austin partner Alicia Duleba and Diversity Chair, Bruce Ruzinsky.

Leonard Woods moderated the lively conversation among the 30+ invitees. Leonard also introduced each guest with a personal story and shared how he built a relationship with each person through the years.

African-American attorneys from the Austin and Houston offices attended the dinner and discussion, along with firm managing partner, Wade Cooper, Austin managing partner, Matt Dow, Judge David Folsom of the Texarkana office and Diversity Chair Bruce Ruzinsky. Leonard asked some really thought provoking questions and guests were very forthcoming about their suggestions and diverse experiences.

Associate Chevazz Brown was impressed with the life lessons shared by the guests. He was particularly eager to hear about the “How To” in building relationships and how those personal relationships often times move into business relationships.

Associate Joseph Fonlon commented that “the Diversity Dinner was an exceptional experience both in the quality of the event and in the dialogue between the JW attorneys and the clients and community leaders present. It was also a great learning experience as it provided an opportunity to learn from the clients first hand about their decisions in retaining counsel, as well as, their expectations with regard to how the lawyers they hire can add value to their business.”

Pictured are managing partner, Wade Cooper and Judge David Folsom from JW’s Texarkana office.

The event also gave associates the opportunity to spend time with Firm management in an informal environment. Associate Alia Derrick thought it spoke volumes to client attendees as well as JW associates to have the firm’s management present to support the event. Managing partner, Wade Cooper, Judge David Folsom, Diversity Chair Bruce Ruzinsky, and Leonard Woods stayed several hours after the official event ended to further socialize and get to know the associates attending the dinner.

Additionally, the event gave associates the opportunity to visit with African American partners (Leonard Woods and Alicia Duleba) from the Austin office, who most had never met. Associate Jamila Patten found it very inspiring to see successful African American JW partners. Jamila also felt the event fostered a greater level of camaraderie among the young lawyers by helping them to get to know one another outside of the generally hectic work day. The discussion also affirmed the importance of community involvement in professional and personal development.

Pictured from left to right are: Houston associate Chevazz Brown Austin associate Aron Burnett, Natalie Cofield, Capital City Chamber of Commerce, Houston associate Jamila Patten, and Randall Iglehart, past state wide president of the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE).

From all reports, the event was a big success. As associate Anita Barksdale stated, the Austin Diversity Dinner and Dialogue was a reminder that regardless of diverse “descriptors,” clients ultimately want excellent lawyers that clients can count on to provide excellent service.

Jackson Walker’s efforts to ensure diversity are showing results in many ways.

Nearly 30% of this year’s new fall associates are minorities and 36% are women. Currently, 44% of JW associates are women and nearly a quarter are minorities. Additionally, 31% of JW partners are women and minorities.


Jackson Walker Hosts “Save the Date” Networking Reception for Texas Minority Counsel Program.

The reception helps to promote the annual TMCP event which was held in Houston on October 3 – 4. Austin partner Chris Mugica served on the Steering Committee again this year for the main event and as in past years, was the driving force behind JW hosting the Austin reception.

Pictured from left to right are: Austin managing partner, Matt Dow, local attorney Michael Baumer, Katherine Holt Richardson Principal of HR Legal Search and Vikrant Reddy, Policy Analyst, Center for Effective Justice/Texas Public Policy Foundation

Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson of the Texas Supreme Court was the guest speaker for the TMCP Reception, which was held on August 21, 2012. The mission of the TMCP is to increase opportunities for minority and women attorneys who provide legal services to corporate and government clients, and to expose those organizations to the legal talent found in minority and women communities.

Pictured are Austin partner and TMCP Steering Committee member, Chris Mugica and firm managing partner, Wade Cooper.

Jackson Walker Supports Lambda Legal


Jackson Walker was a principal sponsor of this year’s Lambda Legal Landmark Dinner. The 10th Anniversary Celebration was held in Dallas on August 11, 2012. Dallas partner Tracey Wallace was co-chair of the Dallas Leadership Committee and will be appointed to the National Board for Lambda Legal in October. Dallas partner Michael Kaufman and Dallas associate Lauren Mutti also attended the event. Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work. To learn more about Lambda Legal, visit:


Joseph Guajardo

Joseph Guajardo is an associate in the Houston office and is a member of the firm’s corporate and securities section. Joseph received his B.B.A. from the University of Houston and his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Houston Law Center. While in law school, Guajardo interned for the Honorable Jennifer Walker Elrod of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Guajardo was also a member of the Order of the Barons and Executive Editor for the Houston Law Review.


Shari Mao is an associate in the San Antonio office and is a member of the firm’s Corporate & Securities section. Shari received her B.A., magna cum laude, from Duke University and her J.D., magna cum laude, from St. Mary’s University School of Law. Shari was also associate editor and staff writer for St. Mary’s Law Journal and a member of the Order of Barristers. Prior to joining Jackson Walker, Shari interned for Chief Judge Fred Biery of the United States District for the Western District of Texas, where she researched and wrote memos for the court. She also worked as a student attorney at St. Mary’s Center for Legal and Social Justice.

Prior to going to law school, Shari worked at J.P. Morgan in New York with projects in London and Tokyo. She also managed the North American operations for a flooring company based in Taiwan and China before going to law school.


James McFall is an associate in the Dallas office and is a member of the firm’s litigation section. James received his B.A. as well as his M.A. from Stanford University and his J.D. from Washington University School of Law. During law school, James worked as a judicial extern for Judge Jeremy Fogel of the United States District Court of the Northern District of California, where he researched and analyzed various federal legal issues and drafted memorandum and initial opinions. James was also Senior Editor for the Washington University Law Review.


David Schlottman is an associate in the Dallas office and is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment section. David received his B.A., with high honors, from Abilene Christian University and his J.D., magna cum laude, from Baylor University Law School. During law school, David was an extern for Judge Jeffrey Manske of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, where he drafted orders and reports and recommendations. David was also Editor-in-Chief of the Baylor Law Review and a member of the Order of Barristers, Baylor Mock Trial Team, and Baylor Moot Court Team



Jackson Walker Continues Support for Houston Urban Debate League. On Friday, September 27, 2012, the Houston Urban Debate League (HUDL) hosted its first tournament of the year at Jefferson Davis High School. The event began at 4:30 p.m. Friday and concluded in the evening on the following Saturday. Diversity Chair, Bruce Ruzinsky volunteered to help judge several rounds of the tournament.

Three hundred and fifty-four students attended the tournament breaking the old record of 301 which was set during the 2010-2011 school-year. These students came from 20 of HUDL’s 30 member schools.

At the tournament, each student competed in all of HUDL’s three debate formats (cross examination, public forum and world schools debate)..

Jackson Walker Participates in LCLD’s Annual Meeting. Diversity Chair, Bruce Ruzinsky attended the Legal Council on Legal Diversity’s (LCLD) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on September 13, 2012. The meeting featured two prominent experts on the subject of Developing Talent in the legal profession.

Bob Nelson, Director of the American Bar Foundation and Professor of Sociology and Law at Northwestern University spoke about his research and study of diversity in leading organizations in the profession and on his study of the careers of lawyers, including tracking the entering bar class of 2000 for the first ten years of their careers.

Jerry Kang, Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law and Professor of Asian American Studies at UCLA expounded in the areas of communications and implicit bias.

The meeting also gave attendees the opportunity to have candid and constructive dialogue with law firm managing partners, general counsels and senior diversity professionals about all aspects of recruiting, advancing, and retaining diverse talent.

There was also an interactive panel discussion with representatives of the second class of LCLD Fellows. The program also included a moderated discussion about expanding the reach of LCLD.

Jackson Walker Joins LCLD’s Individual Mentoring Program (IMP). The IMP is part of the Success in Law School undertaking that is an element of LCLD’s Strategic Pipeline Initiative.

The primary objective of the mentoring program is to ensure that law students of diverse backgrounds receive the mentoring and preparation that they need to maximize their potential in law school and through bar passage.

The IMP matches volunteer mentor attorneys with an equal number of diverse 1L students at law schools in cities around the United States. Jackson Walker attorneys from the Houston and Dallas offices have volunteered to participate in the program. The participating attorneys are Houston partner and Diversity Chair, Bruce Ruzinsky, Houston associate Chevazz Brown and Dallas partners Suzan Kedron Tracey Wallace.

Any attorney can Participate regardless of their level of experience. The Mentoring commitment is for one year.

Jackson Walker also sponsored a 1L Scholar this summer and has committed to take part in the LCLD’s Group Mentoring Program. Attorneys from JW’s Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio offices will head up programs in their respective cities. This program is designed to increase the quality and quantity of mentor-mentee relationships among minority law students at any stage (while attending law school) and experienced lawyers.


Congratulations to Rick Garza, Steve Ramon, and Robert Soza for being selected best of 2012 San Antonio lawyers by S.A. Scene Magazine. 

Jackson Walker Has Two Nominees for Trailblazer Award. Diversity Committee Chair, Bruce Ruzinsky was nominated for a second time for the Trailblazer Award by the Texas Minority Counsel Program. Brian Prewitt from JW’s Austin office was also nominated this year. The nomination is based on efforts to promote diversity within the legal profession. Award winners were honored during the 2012 TMCP Awards Presentation on October 2, 2012.