The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) honors outstanding law firms at four Regional Networking Forums during the year. The firm’s selection as one of three finalists out of approximately 20 law firms nominated in the South/Southwest Region is a high honor.

Although, not the winner of the evening, Jackson Walker was recognized as part of a small group of law firms that demonstrated an ongoing commitment to improving the hiring, retention and promotion of minority and women attorneys.

1L Scholars from the Lloyd M. Johnson, Jr. Scholarship Program were also recognized at the event. Managing partner, Wade Cooper met the students and also sent each student a follow-up note congratulating them on their achievements.

The event was held on February 15, 2012, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. There was also a discussion among distinguished panelists regarding their paths to success.

The panelists included Benjamin Cannon, Executive Director, BP Foundation, Inc., Curtis Frasier, Executive Vice President & General Counsel of Shell Oil Company, and Justice Eva M. Guzman of the Supreme Court of Texas. A networking reception followed the discussion and award presentation.

Attending the event (from left to right) – Managing partner, Wade Cooper; Dallas partner and JW2 Chair, Kathleen LaValle; Houston associate, Alia Derrick; Dallas partner, Suzan Kedron; Diversity Coordinator, Alesia Foster; and Houston partner and Diversity Chair, Bruce Ruzinsky

Jackson Walker L.L.P. Makes the 2012 “Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity”

MultiCultural Law Magazine (MLM) recently announced that Jackson Walker ranked 63rd in their official rankings of the 2012 “Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity” listing.

Additionally, Jackson Walker ranked in the following MLM’s specialized listings:

  • 46th in “Top 50 Law Firms for Partners” listing
  • 40th in “Top 50 Law Firms for Associates” listing
  • 7th in “Top 25 Law Firms for Hispanic-Americans” listing

The “Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity” listing ranks the nation’s top firms for excellence in ensuring that diversity and inclusion in the legal profession continues to be a priority.

Volunteering Can Make a Difference
by JW associate, Alia Derrick

As a volunteer for the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP), I helped a grandmother obtain custody of her three grandchildren –whose ages ranged from 3 to 15. The children’s mother was on drugs and in and out of jail and their fathers were not in their lives.

Under the circumstances, the grandmother had been caring for her grandchildren since their birth. As the children grew older, the grandmother encountered many obstacles that prevented her from obtaining even the most basic benefits for them because she was not their legal guardian. To make matters worse, she had been laid off during the recession and was supporting the children on her unemployment benefits and her husband’s retirement.

After working many hours, on December 13, 2011, we went before the district court judge who granted all three petitions. The judge thanked the grandmother for caring for the children and awarded her custody of each child.

The grandmother tearfully told me that winning custody was a great Christmas gift for her. During this conversation, I learned that she had not gotten a single gift for her grandchildren because she had recently received a letter stating that her unemployment benefits would soon end.

I shared the grandmother’s story with my Bishop who invited her to church and blessed her with new toys and clothes for the grandchildren. Working on the three custody cases and obtaining a positive outcome was certainly a great experience for me, and time well spent.


Jackson Walker was a Bronze Sponsor of the Mexican American Bar Association of Texas/CHLSA at UT Law Student Conference. Hispanic law students from all of the Texas law schools attended the conference which focused on professional development and issues affecting the Hispanic community. There were also panel discussions which included the topics of career paths, trial practice, redistricting, women & the law, and judicial clerkships and careers. Of particular note, were the panel on race conscious admission and the Fisher v. Texas case involving UT Austin.

Jackson Walker was a gold level sponsor of the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society Banquet. The University of Texas School of Law’s local chapter of the national Black Law Students Association concludes each year with its annual banquet honoring outgoing third year members. This year’s event was held on March 30th at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Jackson Walker was also a gold level sponsor of the Asian Pacific Interest Section of the State Bar of Texas Conference and Retreat. This year’s event was held on March 30-31 at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Austin. The conference included a CLE program and numerous networking opportunities for sponsors and attendees. In particular, the March 31st CLE program featured a keynote luncheon with a distinguished panel of General Counsel from the public and private sectors. The panelists included Paul Bae (St. Jude Medical S.C., Inc.), Barry Burgdorf (The University of Texas System), Suzy Fulton (SoftLayer Technologies, Inc.), and Jonathan Perkel (Travelocity). Austin partner, Monte James was also a featured panelist at the event.

Jackson Walker’s Long-Term Commitment to Pipeline Initiatives

The firm through its membership in the Legal Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) will participate in the 1L Scholars Program. Managing partner, Wade Cooper is a member of the LCLD Pipeline Committee. One of the key strategies of that committee is to strengthen the legal pipeline by expanding the number of opportunities for diverse first-year law students.

Along with sponsorship of a 1L Scholar this summer, the firm has also committed to take part in the LCLD’s Group Mentoring Program. 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..

Within Jackson Walker, four offices have each designated a partner (and diversity committee member) who will head up the Group Mentoring Program in their city: Robert Soza, San Antonio; Suzan Kedron, Dallas; Leonard Woods, Austin; and Bruce Ruzinsky, Houston.


Austin Office Hosts Reception for Black Elected Officials. The Austin office hosted a reception of the Black Elected Officials program on January 12th, 2012. The Capital City African American Chamber invited all the members of the Texas Congressional Black Caucus. The event was attended by over 150 community and governmental leaders. Austin partner, Leonard Woods was the co-chair of the event. The featured speaker for the event was Ron Busby, Sr., President & CEO of The United States Black Chamber, Inc (USBC).

Jackson Walker Sponsors TYLA AND DYLA Dinner. The Texas Young Lawyers Association and the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers hosted a dinner entitled “Diversity, Dinner, and Dialogue: Creating a Culture of Inclusion.” The dinner was held on January 12, 2012 at the City Club in Dallas.

Ron Hall — author of the best-selling book “Same Kind of Different as Me”–was the keynote speaker at the dinner. He discussed his story, the book, and the value of diversity in everything that we do.

Following the presentation was a panel discussion concerning diversity in the legal profession.

Dallas partner, Tracey Wallace Speaks on the Americans With Disabilities Act – Tracey spoke at a seminar on “Best Practices in ADA, FMLA, Workers’ Compensation and Other Leave Laws in Texas” on January 10, 2012, in Dallas, Texas. Her presentation also covered the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Final Regulations and possible discrimination issues related to the ADA.

Dallas partner Alex Frutos Speaks on Preparing for an IPO to the Dallas/Fort Worth Institute of Management Accountants on December 15, 2011, in Dallas, Texas. Alex gave a speech titled “Preparing for an IPO.” His presentation focused on IPO readiness and legal, accounting and underwriting issues relating to going public.

Congratulations to Joel Heydenburk, Chris Mugica, Emilio Nicolas and Elena Villaseñor for being recognized as 2012 Rising Stars by Thomson Reuters.

Dallas partner, Willie Hornberger was recently named chairman-elect of the 29,000-member Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA). He will serve as chairman from 2013 to 2014. The TSCPA is a nonprofit, voluntary, professional organization representing Texas CPAs. The mission of the organization is to support its members in their professional endeavors and to promote the value and high standards of Texas CPAs.

Willie is currently on the executive board of the TSCPA. He is also a past chair and board member of the Dallas Chapter of the TSCPA and is a former chair of the Tax Sections of the State Bar of Texas and Dallas Bar Association

Austin associate, Jorge Padilla was accepted to the Austin Bar Association/Austin Young Lawyers Association 2012 Leadership Academy. He began his Leadership Academy participation on January 13, 2012. This is the first year of the Leadership Academy, which was designed to assist Austin-area lawyers in making a difference in the community and in service to the Austin Bar Association. Out of all the candidates, only 35 were selected to participate in the 2012 Leadership Academy.

Jamila Patten

The Black Law Students Association at The University of Houston’s Law Center recognized Jackson Walker three consecutive years with Plaques of Appreciation for its support of the organization. Pictured above with the awards is Houston associate Jamila Patten, who is a University of Houston Law School Alumni and past President of the BLSA organization.


St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th to honor the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick was born in the late Fourth Century. At the age of 16 he was kidnapped from his native land of the Roman British Isles by a band of pirates, and sold into slavery in Ireland. After six years of slavery he escaped to the Irish coast and fled home to Britain.

While back in his homeland, St. Patrick became a priest and then decided to return to Ireland after dreaming that the voices of the Irish people were calling him to convert them to Christianity.

St. Patrick returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary. He laid the groundwork for the establishment of hundreds of monasteries and churches in Ireland to promote Christianity.

St. Patrick’s mission in Ireland is said to have lasted for thirty years. It is believed he died in the 5th century on March 17, which is the day St. Patrick’s Day is commemorated each year.

St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in America in 1737 in Boston, Massachusetts. The first official St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York City in 1766. Over 100 U.S. cities now hold Saint Patrick’s Day parades.

A traditional symbol associated with St. Patrick’s Day is the Shamrock, which is a type of clover with three leaves. It is said that St. Patrick used the Shamrock in his teachings to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, which defines God as three divine persons (the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit.

The color green is also commonly associated with St. Patrick’s Day because it pays tribute to Ireland (known as the “Emerald Isle”) in view of its year-round green landscape. Wearing green is said to bring good luck.

According to Houston partner, Pat Sharkey, who is highly experienced on the subject, “Everyone is deemed Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and consumption of an Irish beverage is recommended to truly experience the Irish culture!”

The Firm’s Diversity Committee meets every quarter. Additionally, the Diversity Committee has six subcommittees that work on a variety of tasks. These teams spend many hours on the firm’s efforts.

For more information, visit our Diversity page.

Diversity Committee Members:

• Suhani Akhare
• Melissa Bates
• Chevazz Brown
• Ling Chwang
• Alicia Duleba
• Alesia Foster
• Joel Heydenburk
• Margaret Hopson
• Suzan Kedron
• Scott McElhaney
• Lauren Mutti
• Jorge Padilla