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.
In our 2021 Diversity & Inclusion Report, we reflect on our efforts to provide an inclusive environment for all, to recruit diverse talent, to develop and advance our attorneys, to support the communities in which we live and work, and to recognize the accomplishments of our attorneys and the overall Firm.
NEWS & NOTES
Elevating Diverse Attorneys to Partnership
In February 2022, Jackson Walker announced the election of 14 attorneys to the Firm’s partnership—the largest class to date. We are proud to share that of our new partners, two are women and three are ethnically diverse. Congratulations to Lindsey Marsh Brown, Art Cavazos, Amanda Crouch, Jeremy Sheng, and Sang Shin! In addition to naming the new partners class of 2022, the Firm also promoted Noah Speck and Austin Thomas from associates to senior counsel. Read more »
Appointing Our New Energy Chair
Three years prior to Dotson Babcock & Scofield’s merger with Jackson Walker in 1990, Michael Pearson became chair of the Energy practice. He maintained that role when he joined Jackson Walker and remained the Energy practice chair until January 1, 2022, when Jesse S. Lotay stepped into the position. Read more »
Cultivating the Diverse Legal Talent Pipeline
Jackson Walker and PracticePro partnered to launch a Pre-Law Diversity Scholarship for underrepresented college students and graduates seeking a legal career.
“The future of our legal profession depends entirely on how well we prepare students and guide them in their pursuit of a legal career,” said Suzan Kedron, who chairs the Firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. “We are excited for the opportunity to help launch this Pre-Law Diversity Scholarship, which will support students from underrepresented communities in their efforts to get into the best law schools and receive the necessary tools to become successful lawyers.”
During the third quarter of 2021, the Firm received the following recognitions:
- The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) included Jackson Walker among the top 10 law firms in the midsize firm category of its newly released Diversity Scorecard, which assesses and ranks law firms based on the effectiveness of their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Read more »
- The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance recognized Jackson Walker among the top 30 law firms “Tipping the Scales” toward gender parity in promoting women to partnership. Read more »
In addition, the following women and diverse individuals received notable achievements:
- Michelle Rosenblatt was elected a fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. Read more »
- Priya Coffey was named among the Top 100 Women in Business in recognition of her contributions to the growth of our Firm, her mentorship of the next generation of women leaders in the legal profession, and her commitment to corporate citizenship. Priya was recognized with the award during the National Women’s Conference in March 2022. Read more »
- Marisela Peña Gonzalez was recognized as a Top Emerging Leader at the National Women’s Conference in March 2022. Honorees of the Emerging Leader Award are recognized for their peer leadership, executive leadership potential, and for demonstrating “values of courage, inclusiveness, innovation, faithfulness, persistence, and humility.” Read more »
- Jamila Brinson, Greta Cowart, Richard Garza, and Dawn Holiday were recognized among the list of the “Lawdragon 500 Leading U.S. Corporate Employment Lawyers.” Read more »
- Erin Camp and Erica Benites Giese were included in San Antonio Magazine’s “Top Attorneys” list for 2021. Read more »
- In Super Lawyers‘ list of the 2022 Texas Rising Stars, 27 of 51 of Jackson Walker’s honorees are women and diverse attorneys, including Vienna Flores Anaya, Kathleen Tanner Beduze, Amanda Crouch, Jackie Davis, Josh Flores, Josué Galván, Gracie Garcia, Alyca Riley Garrison, Genevieve Graham, Carey Hain, Sara Harris, Taylor Lamb, Shari Mao, Kayla Matus, James Carlos McFall, Kati Orso, Jorge Padilla, Veronica Polnick, Gaby Rawlings, David Schlottman, Jessica Schwartz, Jeremy Sheng, Sang Shin, Jocelyn Thibodaux Slater, Jackie Staple, Chelsea Wood, and Catharine Yen. A special congratulations are in order for Amanda Crouch, who soared to the top of the list of the Texas Rising Stars in 2022, ranking as one of the “Up-and-Coming 100” and “Up-and-Coming 50: Women” for the second consecutive year. Read more »
- Carey Edwards and Sherri Mathews were included in Scene in S.A.‘s first annual “Top Paralegals” list.
Welcoming New Diverse Talent
As we continue to intensify our efforts to recruit diverse talent, we are proud to have welcomed the following women and diverse attorneys from October 2021 through April 2022:
|Kathleen Tanner Beduze
|Courtney D. Bristow
|Rebecca Blake Chaikin
|Joshua R. Flores
|Sarah Patel Pacheco
|Michelle Vincent Parker
|Chelsea T. Wood
Partner, Fort Worth
|Sheena Elise Duke
Senior Counsel, Austin
|Robin Boyles Hennegan
Senior Counsel, Austin
|Jessica B. Palvino
Senior Counsel, Austin
|Ali K. Burner
Associate, Fort Worth
|Roderick O. Faulk
Associate, San Antonio
Associate, Fort Worth
|Rachel Lee Neumann
|Jocelyn Thibodaux Slater
|Meredith S. Tavallaee
|Chelsea A. Mikulencak
Research Attorney, San Antonio
Celebrating Commitment to Service
- Jennifer Caughey was appointed to the Texas Judicial Council, for a term set to expire on June 30, 2027. The Council is tasked with studying and reporting on the organization and practices of the court system in Texas. The Council will then submit recommendations for improvement of the system to the Texas Legislature, the Governor, and the Supreme Court. Read more »
- Sang Shin was appointed to serve as a council member for the Immigration Committee and as secretary for the Asian Pacific Islander Section (APIS) of the State Bar of Texas. In addition, he chairs the Board of Directors of the Asian American Bar Association of Houston and is a trustee of the Asian American Bar Foundation of Houston.
Achieving Results for Pro Bono Clients
Attorneys across various practices and backgrounds come together to serve the needs of our clients. From the pitch to the end result, our teams include women and diverse attorneys who are involved at every stage of the representation. The following matters from the past two quarters were handled by teams that were led by or included women and diverse attorneys:
Jackson Walker Partners With Buried Alive Project
Nearly 4,000 Americans have been sentenced to die in prison for federal drug offenses, with no possibility of parole. Eighty percent of them are people of color. Working alongside Brittany Barnett and the Buried Alive Project, which helps free people in prison sentenced to life without parole for nonviolent drug offenses, Jackson Walker’s pro bono teams led by Pro Bono Chair Edwin Buffmire sought reductions in the life sentences of Robert Dale Gray and Ray Charles Fields.
Mr. Gray received a mandatory life sentence without parole in 1997 for a third felony drug conviction. Our team, which included Shelisa Brock and Lauren Ceckowski, worked with local counsel Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP to seek compassionate release for Mr. Gray under the First Step Act. The judge ordered that his life sentence be reduced to time served with 10 years of supervised release, and Mr. Gray was released from prison. Now 69 years old, Mr. Gray was able to meet his grandchildren. Read more »
Mr. Fields received a mandatory life sentence in 1994 for nonviolent drug-related crimes. Our team, which included Hannah Walsh and Matt Johnson, secured a reduction in his sentence. After more than a quarter-century in prison, Mr. Fields is now home, free, working alongside family at a local restaurant, and spending time with grandchildren he’d never met. Read more »
Pro Bono Representation of Foster Parents
Erica Benites Giese represented foster parents pro bono in an emotional and highly contested matter involving multiple children in the care of the Department of Family and Protective Services.
“This is truly a big win and happy ending for our clients and the beginning of a safe and bright future for the children. I am honored to help them in their journey and am grateful for the opportunity to fight for them,” Erica said.
Accommodating Working Mothers
Jennifer Freel, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Texas, recently shared her experience balancing motherhood and her career with Law360.
“Breastfeeding as a working trial lawyer is not easy, but I’m thankful that the Austin federal courthouse and my former colleagues at the U.S. Attorney’s Office made it possible for me to do so,” she noted. “The breastfeeding season is such a short period in the career of a trial lawyer, that we should work to eliminate barriers that make it more difficult than it has to be.”
At Jackson Walker, we strive to make the environment inclusive for all. For 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. We also offer parental leave for attorneys, including those on an alternative work schedule, for the care of a child after birth, birth through surrogacy, adoption, or placement with the attorney for foster care. In addition, all employees have access to back-up care for children and elderly family members.
EVENTS & SPONSORSHIPS
DiversePro App Launch Party
On April 13, 2022, Chevazz Brown hosted a party to launch the DiversePro mobile phone app, a social networking platform for diverse communities and allies to connect with diverse lawyers who share their culture, language, and life experience. For the launch party, Chevazz partnered with vendors from underrepresented communities.
“One noticeable fact during our party planning was the abundance of exceptional, talented diverse entrepreneurs. We are happy to support them—our community.”
Women’s Power Summit
On April 6-8, 2022, the Center for Women in Law hosted its seventh biennial Women’s Power Summit. Jackson Walker proudly served as a sponsor of the event.
2022 WEN Conference
Jackson Walker was a sponsor of the 2022 WEN Conference, which took place in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 3-5, 2022. Presented by the Women’s Energy Network, the conference showcased presentations on relevant and timely topics about all sectors of the energy industry, and offered opportunities for energy professionals to connect with experts, increase knowledge, establish peer networks, and maximize contributions at work.
“Risky Women” Panel Discussion
On April 1, 2022, Jackson Walker sponsored Women in the Know’s “Risky Women” panel discussion featuring Cynthia Nwaubani (HSBC), Tracy Ready (Realty Capital Partners), Thear Suzuki (EY), and Jo Temming. Mary Emma Karam, as co-founder of Women in the Know, served as moderator during this inspirational discussion about women who have taken risks in life and business, challenged gender stereotypes, and embraced a world full of possibilities. Mary Emma co-founded Women in the Know in 2016 to provide a forum for women to exchange ideas and solutions for ending intergenerational poverty and supporting women in business.
For those interested in attending future Women in the Know events, sign up for the email invitations here »
National Women’s Conference
Jackson Walker was a sponsor of the National Women’s Conference held on March 30-31, 2022. Presented by the National Women’s Council, an affiliate of the National Diversity Council, the National Women’s Conference featured educational sessions and networking opportunities designed to help women explore their role as a game changer within their organization.
United Way Campaign
The Houston office gathered to celebrate the 2022 United Way Campaign. Jackson Walker is organizing a volunteer service day to support the United Way of Greater Houston, which helps members of the community achieve financial stability, support families and youth with physical and behavioral health and educational services along the way, and provide the safety net that catches the most vulnerable.
‘Notorious RBG’ Exhibit
Jackson Walker serves as a title sponsor of the Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg exhibit at the Holocaust Museum Houston, which opened on March 11, 2022 and closes on July 31, 2022.
Women’s Business Conference
Jackson Walker proudly served as the presenting sponsor of the Dallas Regional Chamber’s 24th annual Women’s Business Conference held on March 8, 2022. This year’s conference fell on International Women’s Day, and the theme “SHEsurgence” focused on the resurgence, reinvention, and resiliency of women. Our Jackson Walker Women chair, Monica Pace Messick, presented at the conference along with Suzan Kedron, who interviewed Beth Garvey, President and CEO of BGSF, during the opening session.
Holiday Donation Drives
The 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, the Houston office fulfilled the wish lists of 65 angels from Bastian Elementary. Many thanks to Michael Drab, Tori Emery, and Javier Gonzalez for volunteering on pick-up day!
Also, as part of the HBA AIDS Outreach Committee’s Annual Holiday Adopt-a-Family Program, Jamila Brinson dropped off four large garbage bags of gifts, four plastic gift bags of gifts, and various other gifts.
The women in the San Antonio office came together to help support one family in need during the holidays. On December 14, 2021, nine large bags full of gifts and goods were delivered as part of the Adopt-a-Family program of the Family Service Association of San Antonio, Inc.
Spark After Dark
Jackson Walker proudly sponsored Thinkery’s Spark After Dark event on December 7, 2022, featuring live, interactive art and science demonstrations, maker activities, cocktails, and food from Austin eateries. All event proceeds supported Thinkery’s Open Door Initiative, which provides free and discounted admission to Thinkery and its play-based learning programs to children and families regardless of means.
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.
HNBA Board Meeting
Jackson Walker sponsored a joint meeting between the Hispanic Bar Association of Houston and the Hispanic National Bar Association for the HNBA’s board meeting held in Houston in December 2021. Luke Gilman and Erica Benites Giese attended the event.
Sleep Out: Executive Edition
Priya Coffey, Wade Cooper, and Kurt Nondorf successfully completed a night of sleeping 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. Their participation helped to raise more than $25,000 for the nonprofit.
Baubles and Bites Happy Hour
The women of the Houston real estate group hosted a Baubles and Bites Happy Hour on November 11, 2021, featuring jewelry from the LeMel Collection.
Tarrant County Light the Night Walk
On November 6, 2021, Jackson Walker sponsored The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Tarrant County Light the Night walk . The Dallas-Fort Worth team raised more than $35,000 for life-saving research and support for cancer patients and their families. Sierra Quinonez serves as the Tarrant County Corporate Walk Chair, and Nate St. Clair is a member of the North Texas Executive Committee.
Wine About Law
Jackson Walker hosted a Wine About Law networking event with the UT Women’s Law Caucus on November 1, 2021, at Antonelli’s Cheese House. The event welcomed 1Ls in the Women’s Law Caucus group to connect with some of our women attorneys and get to know more about our Firm, practice areas, and summer program.
Karen H. Susman Jurisprudence Award Luncheon
Jackson Walker sponsored a table at the 2021 Anti-Defamation League Karen H. Susman Jurisprudence Award Luncheon honoring Alistair Dawson on October 20, 2021. The JW table included Marisela Peña Gonzalez, Priya Coffey, Matt Cavenaugh, Liz Freeman, Leisa Talbert Peschel, Alfie Meyerson, Bruce Ruzinsky, and Sang Shin, with guests Brad Coffey (Spur Energy) and Kevin Kushner (CBRE).
Dallas Latina Leadership Program
Erica Benites Giese, Deputy Region XII President of the Hispanic National Bar Association, joined the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association for the 2021 Dallas Latina Leadership Program held at Jackson Walker’s Dallas office on October 6, 2021. The professional development event brought together Latina attorneys and law students as they discussed overcoming imposter syndrome.
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