Diversity & Inclusion at Jackson Walker

Evolution

JW Diversity & Inclusion Report

As the world experienced major cultural change, we have worked to change along with it. At the heart of our Firm's diversity and inclusion activity in 2021 was our commitment to listening, learning, and engaging.

We have also begun to embark on one of the largest—if not the largest—D&I initiatives to date for our Firm through our participation in the Mansfield Rule 5.0 Certification process.

View A Message from Our Managing Partner and Our D&I Chair

2021 in Review

0 %

of the Management Committee are Women or Diverse

0 %

of the Compensation Committee are Women or Diverse

0 %

of our combined Management, Compensation, and Hiring Committees are Women or Diverse

Diverse Attorneys

Associates
25%
Partners
14%
Counsel
13%
Others (Staff and Research Attorneys)
40%
All Attorneys
18%

Women Attorneys

Associates
53%
Partners
25%
Counsel
47%
Others (Staff and Research Attorneys)
70%
All Attorneys
35%

Inclusive Culture

Recruitment

Development & Advancement

Community Impact & Sponsorships

Recognition 

Our Committee

Inclusive Culture

Together We Dine encouraged attorneys and staff to explore different perspectives.

As a Firm, we have embraced our commitment to listening, learning, and engaging through our partnership with Project Unity to host a series of Together We Dine programs. In 2021, we partnered again with Project Unity for Together We Dine 2.0, which invited our attorneys and staff to participate in four virtual events where they could share their personal experiences and learn how to support one another.

In addition to Together We Dine, Project Unity launched Together We Can, which aims to educate, enable, and empower a lifestyle of mindfulness and action against racism. In support of this initiative, our Firm provided all attorneys and staff with Together We Can bracelets, which is “a statement that you are not silent to racism, that you are part of the solution.”

A Together We Dine virtual event with attorneys and staff

Our Lawyer Resource Groups promote diversity, cultural awareness, and an inclusive work environment.

We developed the structure and framework for our six Lawyer Resource Groups (LRGs).

  • Abilities
  • Asian American / Pacific Islander
  • Black
  • First Generation
  • Hispanic
  • LGBTQ+

These groups also provide a forum for mentorship, networking, open dialogue, and the exchange of ideas.

At Diversity & Inclusion Hours, attorneys and staff share personal stories and reflect upon current and historical events.

Every other month, we hosted a Diversity & Inclusion Hour for all employees to share their personal stories, news, historical events involving diverse groups, and the current state of our Committee's initiatives.

These D&I Hours have included important discussions about the historical context of Black Lives Matter; the fight for LGBTQ+ rights; the disproportionate incarceration of people of color and the work our Pro Bono Committee is doing to help; the desegregation of schools; the origins of labels such as Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx; the historical violence—both explicit and implicit—against Chinese Americans in the U.S.; the laws put in place to prohibit race-based hair discrimination at work and in schools; and the commitment to making our website more accessible.

For the last D&I Hour of the year, the Dallas office provided participants lunch from minority-owned catering company Rocco’s Catering. In 2022, the Firm intends to increase its use of historically underrepresented vendors and suppliers through a comprehensive supplier diversity program.

We provide an alternative work schedule and other inclusive work policies.

To help retain high-caliber associates and partners who require more flexibility in their time, we provide an alternative work schedule compatible with personal and family responsibilities and with the needs of the Firm, while maintaining the opportunity for professional growth. In addition, we ensure our policies reflect a supportive environment for all through an expressed non-discrimination policy, an anti-harassment policy, inclusive benefits, back-up care days for children and elderly family members, parental primary and secondary leave, family leave, and disability leave.

Jackson Walker Women (JW2) helps recruit, retain, and promote women professionals.

Over a decade ago, the Jackson Walker Women (JW2) initiative was created to attract, retain, and promote women professionals. Through its programs, JW2 creates opportunities for women attorneys to develop their professional skills while supporting their efforts to balance work and family responsibilities. The initiative also provides a platform for women attorneys to generate business and pursue leadership positions.

In 2020, we established four key areas we call our Pillars of Success to affirm our commitment to support the growth and advancement of our diverse attorneys.

Cultural Awareness & Human Resources

Recruiting

Professional Development, Advancement, & Retention

Marketing & Business Development

In 2021, we continued growing these pillars by forming leadership teams to better define the objectives and metrics of success associated with each pillar.

Recruitment

We connect with future attorneys early on.

From high school through State Bar admission, prospective attorneys can find support in their journey at Jackson Walker. Through mentorship programs, networking events, and law school affinity groups, we are able to connect with students and help guide them in their pursuit of a legal career.

Recruitment Breakdown

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1L / 2L Events Hosted or Attended

0

Job Fairs Attended for Recruitment of Under-Represented Students

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Pipeline Program Partnerships

0

Law Schools Where JW Collected Resumes

0

Virtual On-Campus Interviews Attended

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Law School Affinity Groups Supported

View List of Our Involvement

A look at our year in hiring and training

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New Fall Associates are Women or Diverse

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New Lateral Attorneys are Women or Diverse

We prepare summer associates for Firm life after law school.

Every summer, we invite highly qualified JD students who are interested in private practice to participate in our Summer Associate Program.

At the start of the program, Jackson Walker hosted a panel discussion focused on diversity and inclusion efforts at the Firm. Committee Chair Suzan Kedron moderated the panel, which included Sang Shin, Trey McDonald, and Marisela Peña Gonzalez.

During the program, Suzan also hosted welcome calls with each summer associate and traveled to each city for a happy hour hosted by the D&I Committee.

Huey Rey Fischer, recent new fall associate and a 2019 summer associate, noted: "Jackson Walker’s summer associate program is some of the best preparation I could have gotten for firm life after law school. Partners and associates assigned me to projects that touched different areas of the law. In one matter, I researched and drafted a motion on res judicata, the Mexican intestacy laws, and Texas probate courts. In another matter, I shadowed a high-profile bankruptcy proceeding.

As a queer Latino, I am comfortable being myself and practicing law with my colleagues at Jackson Walker. After two summers with Jackson Walker, I knew the firm would be a great fit for a person like me."

We seek talented lateral attorneys who enhance the Firm’s personality, diversity, culture, and focus on human values.

The Firm’s culture and commitment to excellence have been major factors in its economic success. That is why we seek talented lateral attorneys who enhance the Firm’s personality, diversity, culture, and focus on human values. As we continue to explore new ways to increase the diversity of our applicants, we are proud to have welcomed 47 practicing attorneys over the past year—25 of whom are women and ethnically or racially diverse attorneys.

Demi Williams, who joined the Trial & Appellate Litigation practice in 2021, noted, “During my time at Jackson Walker, I have had the opportunity to continue meaningful work in the sports, media, and entertainment space. In one matter involving unconstitutional rules and treatment of a student-athlete, our legal team—comprised primarily of diverse attorneys—prevailed before the trial court, court of appeals, and Supreme Court of Texas. I look forward to all that is to come.”

Development & Advancement

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Management Committee Members are Women

0 %

of the Hiring Partners Committee are Women or Diverse

Houston Managing Partner Priya Coffey works to ensure every individual is empowered to be themselves.

Priya Coffey's immigrant Indian parents preferred she go into medicine or engineering, but her love for reading, writing, and history—in particular, the role law plays in history—led her to become a lawyer.

In college, Priya studied political science and wrote her thesis on the dowry system and the law, and upon the encouragement of one of her professors, she went on to get her master’s in public policy and expanded on her undergraduate thesis.

"My professors appreciated my thesis but asked me to rewrite it from an 'Eastern' perspective—not the 'Western' perspective I had grown up with," Priya said. "The exercise was challenging and an incredible experience. I learned through that exercise how law is integral to culture and culture to the law. I was hooked and wanted to study law more, so I went to law school."

After clerking for the 14th Court of Appeals, Priya started as an associate in the Corporate & Securities practice group of Jackson Walker and ultimately transitioned into the Real Estate practice group. When she joined the Firm, she was the only person of color in her section and on her floor. However, there was no shortage of support provided to her over the years, especially as a mother.

In 2005, the year Priya was up for partner and pregnant with her second child, Mike Wilson, former managing partner of Jackson Walker, after conversations with Priya about her own personal situation, convened a task force to create an alternative work schedule option that provides attorneys with the flexibility to balance their responsibilities at work and at home.

"That pretty much sealed the deal for me regarding loyalty," she noted. "What I love about JW is we've always adapted and grown, and they let me be me. I never felt the need to conform to be someone I’m not."

Now in her 23rd year at Jackson Walker and her second year as managing partner of the Houston office, Priya is working to ensure every individual feels they also have the freedom and support to be themselves.

  

Jennifer Ferri and Erica Benites Giese were elected to the Firm's partnership in February 2021.

Several of our attorneys and staff have completed or are in the process of completing D&I certification programs.

As part of our commitment to growing our D&I initiatives, several of our attorneys and staff have completed or are in the process of completing D&I certification programs that provide best practices on counteracting unconscious bias, fostering an inclusive environment, and improving engagement within the workplace.

D&I Committee Chair Suzan Kedron completed the DiversityFIRST Certification Program presented by National Diversity Council, and Diversity & Inclusion Engagement Manager Chad Cole completed his certification through Cornell University and the University of South Florida Muma College of Business.

As members of the Diversity & Inclusion Counseling practice, Jamila Brinson, Dawn Holiday, Michelle Miller, Sang Shin, and Courtney White completed their certifications through Cornell in order to better design and implement individualized plans tailored to our clients' organizations to improve the workplace and minimize risk.

Our attorneys participate in a number of external development programs.

  • Jesse S. Lotay and Josué J. Galván participated in two training programs offered by the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. Jesse joined the Fellows Program, which focuses on high-potential attorneys from diverse backgrounds and consisted of class meetings, learning experiences, leadership lunches, and events facilitating professional development and networking opportunities. Josué and Eric participated in the Pathfinder Program, which provides early-career diverse attorneys with foundational leadership skills, career development strategies, and tips on building professional networks and relationships.
  • Jesse S. LotayWasif Qureshi, and Edwin Buffmire participated in the Battle-Tested Leadership Strategies for Executives: Lessons from the Army and West Point on campus at West Point in October and November, 2021. The program offers participants a fully immersive experience with role models who have demonstrated superior leadership skills in highly challenging and ever-changing situations leading teams and individuals in extraordinary circumstances.
  • Minoo Blaesche participated in the Dallas Bar Association’s 2021 WE LEAD program, which is designed to address challenges facing women lawyers by preparing participants for leadership roles within their firms and the communities they serve.

Community Impact & Sponsorships

Jackson Walker proudly partners with and contributes to local, regional, and national civic, charitable, and professional organizations that support and advocate for diversity and inclusion for all.

Jackson Walker proudly partners with and contributes to local, regional, and national civic, charitable, and professional organizations that support and advocate for diversity and inclusion for all, including—but not limited to—the following organizations:
  • Anti-Defamation League
  • Asian American Bar Association of Houston
  • Black Tie Dinner, Inc.
  • Brighton Center
  • Catholic Charities Dallas
  • Center for Women in Law, University of Texas School of Law
  • Chinquapin Preparatory School
  • Community Council of Greater Dallas
  • Covenant House Texas
  • Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum
  • Diversity Fellowship Program, Austin Bar Association
  • Diversity Lab
  • Equal Access to Justice Campaign, Dallas Bar Association
  • Equal Justice Works
  • Family Compass
  • Family Houston
  • Forum on Communications Law, American Bar Association
  • Hispanic Bar Association of Houston
  • Hispanic National Bar Association
  • Holocaust Museum Houston
  • Hope Supply Company, Attorneys Serving the Community
  • Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Kelsey Research Foundation
  • Leadership Council on Legal Diversity
  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
  • National Association of Women Lawyers
  • National Diversity Council
  • National LGBT Bar Association
  • PracticePro
  • Project Unity, Union Development Corporation
  • Pre-Law Pipeline Program, University of Houston Law Center
  • Retina Foundation of the Southwest
  • South Asian Bar Association of Houston
  • Texas Minority Counsel Program
  • Texas Women's Foundation Leadership Forum & Awards Celebration
  • Thinkery's Spark After Dark to Support Open Door Initiative
  • Travis County Women Lawyers' Association TCWLA/TCWLF Annual Grants & Awards Luncheon
  • Women's Business Council - Southwest
  • YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas and Greater Houston

A deep-rooted commitment to the community is an important part of our culture. We strive to promote altruism and leadership within the areas we live and work through serving at-risk communities and eliminating barriers.

Priya Coffey, Wade Cooper, and Kurt Nondorf spent the night outside on November 18, 2021, for Covenant House Texas.

Hosted by Covenant House, the Sleep Out helps ensure that youth facing homelessness can sleep safely and dream big at Covenant House. Through their participation, Priya, Wade, and Kurt helped raise more than $25,000 for the nonprofit.

Jackson Walker served as a silver sponsor for the SABA Houston Bollywood Extravaganza held on December 5, 2021.

 In attendance were Chevazz Brown and Mahira Khan, Co-Vice President of Fundraising and Sponsorship of the South Asian Bar Association of Houston.

Photos Courtesy of Sophia George, Secretary of SABA Houston

JW offices organized holiday donation drives for our communities.

Our Dallas office came together and raised $31,385 to support the North Texas Food Bank in providing access to nearly 94,200 nutritious meals to the families NTFB serves.

Every year, the Houston legal community unites to provide gifts to some of the city's neediest children. Through the Houston Young Lawyers Association Adopt-an-Angel gift drive, our Houston office fulfilled the wish lists of 65 angels from Bastian Elementary. Many thanks to Michael DrabTori Emery, and Javier Gonzalez for volunteering on pick-up day!

Also, as part of the HBA AIDS Outreach Committee, Jamila Brinson dropped off a carload of gifts for the committee's Annual Holiday Adopt-a-Family Program.

The women in our San Antonio office came together to help support one family in need during the holidays. On December 14, 2021, JW delivered nine large bags full of gifts and goods as part of the Adopt-a-Family program of the Family Service Association of San Antonio, Inc.

Recognition

Jamila Brinson was featured by Texas Rising Stars magazine for her volunteer experiences.

In the 2021 Texas Rising Stars MagazineJamila Brinson was featured in a profile sharing her experiences volunteering for the AIDS Action Foundation in Saint Lucia, the Houston Bar Association’s AIDS Outreach Committee, and the University of Houston Law Center.

"I've had so many mentors and scholarships that I feel the only reason I’m here and able to be a partner at Jackson Walker is because of the help and encouragement that pushed me along. So I feel like it’s crucial to give back as much as I can.”

Discover Jamila's story »

Listen to her Fast Takes interview »

Women and diverse attorneys were recognized by local and national organizations.

Denise Rose was presented with the first-ever Pink Granite Supporter of Women Award.

Photo Courtesy of Casey Chapman Ross / CCR Studios

Denise Rose was presented with the first-ever Pink Granite Supporter of Women Award in honor of her work at the Texas Capitol and her service to the community.

In presenting Denise with the award, Hope Osborn, founding board member of the Pink Granite Foundation, said, “She is a champion for every woman and will only ever say good things about you, behind your back, and to your face. Everyone should aspire to be a D Rose.”

Read more »

Our Committee

From the top down, we express how significant diversity and inclusion are for the Firm through commitment, communication, and action. To ensure our entire practice promotes equality for all, our Diversity & Inclusion Committee, comprising both attorneys and staff, directs diversity-related goals and collaborates on best practices for implementing initiatives.

The information on this page, including the statistics and information about our attorneys and their involvement, was accurate as of December 31, 2021.

JW Standing in Solidarity

Racism, bigotry, and hate have no place in our society. Jackson Walker stands united with our colleagues, clients, and community partners in the fight to end systemic racism and social injustice. We believe that inequitable treatment of our fellow human beings is unacceptable. As one of the oldest law firms in Texas, our response demands that we listen, learn, and work for equality. Jackson Walker condemns and denounces all acts of racism and prejudice. We stand in solidarity and can only progress in unity.