The report card is a collaborative effort among three minority bar associations, the Austin Asian American Bar Association, the Austin Black Lawyers Association, and the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin.

The annual Austin Law Firm Diversity Report Card evaluates and provides a grade for the 20 largest law firms in Austin based on the percentage of minority attorneys in each firm.

Currently, minorities comprise 14 percent of all attorneys licensed to practice law in Travis County. Therefore, in order to receive an “A” grade, a law firm’s Austin office must meet or exceed the 14 percent threshold.

Of the seven law firms earning the “A” grade, Jackson Walker is listed with the most minority attorneys and the most minority partners. The report reflects that in addition to becoming one of the largest firms in the city, JW’s Austin office is one of the most diverse.

Austin hiring partner, Chris Mugica states that both the firm’s managing partner (Wade Cooper) and the city managing partner (Matt Dow) have been instrumental in growing the Austin office, and both have strived to maintain a diverse group of attorneys to reflect the firm’s clients and the Austin community.

Jackson Walker Ranked Among Top 5 Texas Firms for Diversity – Reflecting the firm’s ongoing commitment to diversity, Jackson Walker was tied for second place among Texas firms in American Lawyer’s 2012 Diversity Scorecard, an annual survey of the percentage of minority attorneys and partners at the nation’s largest firms.

Of the top 5 Texas Firms ranked, Jackson Walker is the only law firm with all of its offices located in Texas.

The report assigns a diversity score based on the firms’ percentage of minority attorneys and partners in the previous year. Jackson Walker moved up seven places to 83rd overall among 233 firms nationwide that responded to the survey, and was tied for second among Texas firms listed.

Jackson Walker’s efforts to ensure diversity are showing results in many ways. In 2012, 45% of the Firm’s newly elected partners were minorities and 64% were women. Additionally, 55% of the 2012 Summer clerks were women and 45% were minorities.

According to the latest Texas Lawyer survey of the largest 25 firms in Texas, JW had the highest percentage of minority summer clerks, and the fifth highest percentage of women summer clerks, for the Summer of 2012 among the 22 firms that responded to the survey.


Promoting Diversity Creates New Business Opportunities

Jackson Walker has been a sponsor of the Texas Minority Counsel Program (TMCP) for many years. Austin partner, Chris Mugica served on the Steering Committee for the most recent event and asked another Austin partner, Larry Waks, to speak at the program.

As a result of Jackson Walker’s sponsorship and Larry’s attendance, he and the firm have been able to gain valuable new business. Additionally, Larry expects more business to develop from the contacts made at the TMCP.Larry is very interested in promoting diversity within the firm and was happy to participate. He spoke at the TMCP program in Austin about Entertainment law. During the event, Larry noted JW’s very visible presence at the program and how much recognition the firm received for our participation.

The first new client, which was obtained directly as a result of the TMCP, is based in London with US headquarters in Houston. It is publicly traded in the UK and its US General Counsel is African-American. Although, the GC is an old friend of Larry’s from his NYC days, it was at the TMCP where Larry ran into her. The GC told Larry how impressed she was with JW’s involvement with the TMCP. JW has received other referrals as a result of the firm’s work with this client.

Larry has also begun representing another client, the second largest phone/internet/television network in Mexico. Their GC mentioned how it was very admirable that JW supported the TMCP and that the firm had a good diversity report card.

Beyond that, Larry mentioned how well the program was organized. In his opinion, the TMCP is the right thing to do, for a variety of reasons, but it is also a wonderful business development opportunity.

Randy Farber Speaks on Hiring Attorneys with Disabilities – Houston partner Randy Farber spoke at the 3rd National Conference on the Employment of Lawyers with Disabilities on May 8, 2012, in Washington, DC. Randy and other lawyers with disabilities in nonprofit, academic, government, and private firm work participated in a session titled “Lawyers with Disabilities: Personal Strategies for Success,” where they spoke on personal career experiences and offered strategies to both law students and lawyers with disabilities for building meaningful and successful careers. To learn more about this conference, CLICK HERE.

Salvador Castañeda Speaks on Legal Considerations for Entrepreneurs – Austin associate Salvador Castañeda spoke at a seminar organized by MexNet Alliance and hosted by Southwest Key’s El Centro de Familia on May 10, 2012, in Austin Texas.

Salvador’s presentation was given in Spanish and focused on differences between U.S. and Latin American legal systems, why and how to form a legal entity, and practical tips on contract formation. Conference attendees were Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs interested in starting or growing their businesses.

MexNet Alliance is a non-profit organization composed of business professionals and entrepreneurs whose main aspiration is to provide a model for accelerating the success of present and future Hispanic leaders in the U.S. Southwest Key Programs is a national nonprofit organization providing transformative education, innovative safe shelters and alternatives to incarceration for more than 6,000 youth each day, while creating opportunities for their families to become self-sufficient. For more information on this seminar, please CLICK HERE.


Anita Barksdale.  Before practicing law, Anita was a Senior Associate with KPMG, LLP where she managed teams that assessed the security of her client’s IT environment. Anita also interned at Accenture and Goldman Sachs. Anita is a frequent writer and speaker on social media, leadership, computer fraud and data security, sexual orientation issues in the workplace, harassment, and discrimination. Anita has been honored as a Fellow in the Houston Young Lawyers Foundation, as Outstanding Committee Chair in the Houston Young Lawyers Association, and as an award recipient of the State Bar of Texas – Texas Young Lawyers Association President’s Award of Merit. She currently serves as the District 25 Representative (South/Central Texas) for the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, which also allows her to serve on the board of the Texas Young Lawyers Association. Anita Barksdale is an associate in the Houston office and is a member of the firm’s labor and employment section. Anita received her B.B.A. magna cum laude, from Howard University and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Joseph Fonlon.  Prior to going to law school, Joseph was a senior research associate with MedImmune Inc. and Human Genome Sciences, Inc. and developed substantial expertise in analytical characterization and development of assays in biologics, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Joseph also has experience developing technology commercialization strategies as a business consultant for various organizations. Joseph Fonlon is an associate in the Houston office and is a member of the firm’s corporate and securities section. Joseph received his B.S., magna cum laude, from Columbia Union College, an M.B.A. from the College of William and Mary – Mason School of Business and his J.D. from the College of William & Mary – Marshall – Wythe School of Law. While in law school Joseph interned with the Washington D.C. Attorney General’s Office as well the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney in the City of Hampton, Virginia.

Feeding the Pipeline has many Avenues – Houston associate Chevazz Brown participated as a panelist at the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) Connection program held on April 12, 2012. CLEO is a nonprofit organization committed to diversifying the legal profession by expanding legal education opportunities to minority, low-income and disadvantaged groups. The CLEO Connection program provides a person-to-person environment where under-represented students can find answers to important questions about law school, develop their understanding of the legal field culture, and enhance their social perspective on the admissions process and law school success.

Sushant Mohan

Jackson Walker Summer Clerk Attends the Legal Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD’s) 1L Scholars Workshop – Houston 1L Summer Clerk, Sushant Mohan, attended the LCLD’s developmental and networking event held at Microsoft Technology Center in Chicago on June 19 – 20, 2012. The program offered the attendees the opportunity to interact and develop relationships with leaders from some of the nation’s largest companies and law firms.

Jackson Walker’s managing partner, Wade Cooper, is a member of the LCLD’s Pipeline Committee. The 1L Scholars Program is one of the LCLD’s Pipeline Committee’s key strategies designed to strengthen the legal pipeline by expanding the number of opportunities for diverse first-year law students.

JW Supports the Houston Bar Association’s Minority Opportunities in the Legal Profession Committee (MOILP) For the past several years, Jackson Walker’s Houston Summer Clerks have attended the Houston Bar Association’s Minority Opportunities in the Legal Profession Committee’s Summer Associates Luncheon. This year’s lunch theme was “Diverse Paths, Shared Standards: Chart Your Own Course to a Successful Legal Career”. The event was held on June 5, 2012 at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Houston. Also attending the event were Houston associates Chevazz Brown, Jamila Patten, and Suhani Akhare.

Jackson Walker Sponsors SMU Black Law Students Association’s End of Year Banquet

The banquet gives the organization and the Dallas legal community a chance to recognize graduating BLSA members. The featured keynote speaker for the evening was the Honorable Tonya Parker of the 116th Civil District Court in Dallas. The banquet was held at the SMU Karcher Auditorium in Dallas on April 5, 2012. Dallas partner, Tracey Wallace attended the banquet on JW’s behalf, along with invited guests, Michelle Peak (American Airlines), Raha Assada (intern for Judge Parker), Steve Bolden and Jennifer Guyot-Wallace.

Jackson Walker Sponsors University of Houston’s Asian Law Students Association (ALSA) – The event was held at Vic & Anthony’s on April 13, 2012. The evening kicked off with a cocktail reception and then dinner with featured guest speaker, the Honorable David Wellington, former Chief Justice of the Texas Eighth Court of Appeals. Attendees included law students and invited guests (UH law professors, lawyers, and several local judges). Justice Chew spoke about his grandfather’s and father’s hardships and accomplishments as Asian Americans in Texas. ALSA presented awards to various valued sponsors. Pictured left is Houston Associate, Samir Najam accepting an appreciation award on behalf of Jackson Walker from UH-ALSA President, Stephen Mao.

Jackson Walker Helps Underwrite Houston Lawyers Association Gala
by JW associate Anita Barksdale

The Houston Lawyers Association (“HLA”), an affiliate chapter of the National Bar Association, was founded in 1955 to address the particular needs of Black lawyers and the legal needs of the Black community in general. At the time the HLA was established, Black lawyers in the Houston area were not permitted to join the Houston Bar Association. At the Annual Scholarship and Awards Gala, the Houston Lawyers Foundation, the non-profit corporation that facilitates programs instituted by HLA, awards scholarships to law students for the purpose of furthering their educational pursuits. The Gala also gives HLA the forum to honor deserving members of HLA and the community. For instance, HLA awards the Robert L. Hainsworth Outstanding Service award to a lawyer that demonstrates invaluable service through his or her contributions to the Houston Lawyers Association, the Legal Profession and the Community at Large. HLA also awards the Aloysius M. Wickliff, Sr. Community Service Award to a lawyer that exemplifies dedication to the community through tireless service making it a better place for generations to come. This year, HLA honored:

  • Evangeline Mitchell, Founder of the National Black Pre-Law Conference
  • Alex Bunin and the Harris County Public Defender’s Office
  • Habern, O’Neil & Pawgan, a Full Service Law Firm focused on criminal defense, probation, and parole matters.
  • Gary Alfred, Partner at Beirne, Maynard & Parsons L.L.P.
  • The Honorable Frank P. Pierce, Associate Judge for the 2nd Administrative Judicial District in Harris County
  • Tommie Florence, Chief Operating Officer at Forge for Families, Inc.


Pictured at the Gala (from left to right) are: Goran Krnaich (Assistant District Attorney at Harris County District Attorney’s Office), Jamila Patten (JW Associate), Tiana Sanford (Assistant District Attorney at Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office), The Honorable Alexandra Smoots-Hogan (64th Judicial District Court for Harris County & Gala Chair), Anita Barksdale (JW Associate & Gala Co-Chair); Alia Derrick (JW associate), and Nakia Pollard (Memorial Hermann)

JW Contributes to Lawrence E. Jackson II, Foundation Scholarship Gala – The Lawrence E. Jackson II Foundation is a charitable organization providing scholarships to students who are pursuing the study of music. Laurence Sr., Hazel, and Kevin Jackson commemorate their son and brother’s life (he was killed in an auto accident in 2005) by granting music scholarships to students through the Foundation. To date, the Foundation has granted 23 scholarships to 12 students attending their son’s alma mater, Southern University. This year’s gala was held on May, 18th at the Junior League of Houston.


Attending the Gala from left to right are: Kevin Jackson, Greg Groogan (Channel 26), Laurence Jackson , Sr., Anita Barksdale (JW associate), Jamila Patten (JW associate), Alesia Foster, (four scholarship recipients, Shawn Clemons, Rose Telus, Jerry Riggins II, Amechi Ugwu), Hazel Jackson, and Rick Sindelar (former JW partner)

Jackson Walker Supports Rise School Houston – The Rise School of Houston is a nationally recognized pre-school for children with and without Down Syndrome and other disabilities. Jackson Walker was a sponsor of the Rise and Shine Fun Run which took place at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Saturday, May 12. Several JW employees participated in the event. All proceeds from the run go directly to benefit the children who attend the school.

Jackson Walker also participated in the Houston Bar Association’s Spring Children’s Clothing and Diaper Drive Campaign for Houston’s homeless shelters. Donations were also accepted to purchase diapers. JW’s efforts for both events were organized by Houston associate, Theresa Nassif.

Jackson Walker Co-Sponsors The Downtown Group’s Summer Luncheon


JW associate, Jamila Patten, was co-chair of the Luncheon and facilitated a panel presentation on the topic, “Healthy Habits for Busy Professional Women.” The panelists included Chiropractor Dr. Caroline Long, Registered Dietitian Robie Wright, and Life Coach Christine Stuart. JW partner, Marlene Williams, and associates, Anita Barksdale and Alia Derrick, are also members of The Downtown Group, and participated in the Luncheon. The Downtown Group is a network of 300+ African-American female attorneys who practice in Harris County, Texas. The membership ranges from solo practitioners to partners of law firms, and general counsel of corporations. The luncheon was held on June 27th. Other sponsors of the Luncheon included the law firms of Willingham, Fultz & Coughill LLP and Haynes and Boone.

Austin Associate Emilio Nicolas was recently elected to the advisory board of Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA) – As a member of the advisory board, Emilio will provide advice, suggestions and input to the executive director and board of directors of TALA. TALA was formed in 1979 to support the cultural community in Texas by providing volunteer legal and accounting services, educational programs and publications to artists, nonprofit arts organizations and other art constituents. To learn more, CLICK HERE.

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: