JW Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter – April 2022

April 21, 2022 | Newsletters



View the April 2022 Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter »  |  View all D&I newsletters »

IN FOCUS

Jackson Walker Diversity & InclusionAnnouncing Our 2021 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.

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.

View our 2021 report »

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 »

Jesse S LotayAppointing 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.”

Read more »

Developing Leaders

Jackson Walker selected Sang ShinGracie Garcia, and Gaby Rawlings to participate in two leadership training programs offered by the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD). Read more »

Recognizing Achievements

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:

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
Partner, Houston
Courtney D. Bristow
Partner, Dallas
Rebecca Blake Chaikin
Partner, Houston
Kelly Cobb
Partner, Houston
Joshua R. Flores
Partner, Houston
Jennifer Freel
Partner, Austin
Sarah Patel Pacheco
Partner, Houston
Michelle Vincent Parker
Partner, Dallas
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, Austin
Taylor Cummins
Associate, Fort Worth
Roderick O. Faulk
Associate, San Antonio
Lindsay Killeen
Associate, Austin
Allie LeVan
Associate, Dallas
Maggie Lu
Associate, Houston
Kayla Matus
Associate, Fort Worth
Rachel Lee Neumann
Associate, Dallas
Paisley Park
Associate, Houston
Jocelyn Thibodaux Slater
Associate, Houston
Meredith S. Tavallaee
Associate, Dallas
Alicia Vesely
Associate, Austin
Beth Wallace
Associate, Dallas
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.

Read more »

Accommodating Working Mothers

Jennifer FreelJennifer 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.”

See the full article here »

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

Austin Yancy, Priya Coffey, Marisela Pena Gonzalez, Chevazz Brown, Yenmi Tang, Valery Piedra, and Courtney WhiteDiversePro 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.”

Explore Chevazz’s commitment to bridging the cultural divide in the law »
View photos from the launch party »

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

Women in the Know's "Risky Women" panel featuring Mary Emma Karam

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.

Bollywood Extravaganza

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.

These materials are made available by Jackson Walker for informational purposes only, do not constitute legal advice, and are not a substitute for legal advice from qualified counsel. The laws of other states and nations may be entirely different from what is described. Your use of these materials does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Jackson Walker. The facts and results of each case will vary, and no particular result can be guaranteed.

© 2022 Jackson Walker


In This Story

Vienna Flores Anaya
Associate, Dallas

Kathleen Tanner Beduze
Partner, Houston

Jamila M. Brinson
Partner, Houston

Courtney Bristow
Partner, Dallas

Shelisa E. Brock
Associate, Dallas

Chevazz G. Brown
Partner, Houston

Lindsey Marsh Brown
Partner, Dallas

Edwin Buffmire
Partner, Dallas

Ali Burner
Associate, Austin

Erin Camp
Associate, San Antonio

Jennifer Caughey
Partner, Houston

Arturo Cavazos, Jr.
Partner, San Antonio

Matthew D. Cavenaugh
Partner, Houston

Lauren Ceckowski
Associate, Dallas

Rebecca Blake Chaikin
Partner, Houston

Kelly D. Cobb
Partner, Houston

S. Priya Coffey
Partner, Houston

C. Wade Cooper
Partner, Austin

Greta E. Cowart
Partner, Dallas

Amanda N. Crouch
Partner, San Antonio

Taylor Cummins
Associate, Fort Worth

Jackie W. Davis
Associate, Dallas

Sheena Elise Duke
Senior Counsel, Austin

Tori Emery
Associate, Houston

Roderick O. Faulk
Associate, San Antonio

Joshua R. Flores
Partner, Houston

Jennifer Freel
Partner, Austin

Elizabeth Carol Freeman
Partner, Houston

Josué J. Galván
Associate, San Antonio

Gracie Garcia
Associate, Fort Worth

Alyca Riley Garrison
Associate, Austin

Richard G. Garza
Partner, San Antonio

Erica Benites Giese
Partner, San Antonio

Luke J. Gilman
Partner, Houston

Javier Gonzalez
Associate, Houston

Marisela Peña Gonzalez
Partner, Houston

Genevieve Graham
Senior Counsel, Houston

Carey L. Hain
Partner, Houston

Sara K. Harris
Associate, Dallas

Robin Boyles Hennegan
Senior Counsel, Austin

Dawn S. Holiday
Partner, Houston

Mary Emma Karam
Partner, Dallas

L. Suzan Kedron
Partner, Dallas

Mahira Khan
Associate, Houston

Lindsay Killeen
Associate, Austin

Taylor A. Lamb
Senior Counsel, Houston

Allie LeVan
Associate, Dallas

Jesse S. Lotay
Partner, Houston

Maggie Lu
Associate, Houston

Shari Y. Mao
Partner, San Antonio

Kayla Matus
Associate, Fort Worth

James Carlos McFall
Of Counsel, Dallas

Monica Pace Messick
Partner, Dallas

Alfred M. Meyerson
Partner, Houston

Chelsea A. Mikulencak
Research Attorney, San Antonio

Rachel Lee Neumann
Associate, Dallas

Kurt D. Nondorf
Partner, Houston

Kati Orso
Partner, Austin

Sarah Patel Pacheco
Partner, Houston

Jorge A. Padilla
Partner, Austin

Jessica Palvino
Senior Counsel, Austin

Paisley Park
Associate, Houston

Michelle Vincent Parker
Partner, Dallas

Leisa Talbert Peschel
Partner, Houston

Valery Piedra
Associate, Houston

Veronica A. Polnick
Associate, Houston

Sierra R. Quinonez
Partner, Fort Worth

Gaby Rawlings
Associate, Dallas

Michelle Rosenblatt
Partner, Austin

Bruce J. Ruzinsky
Partner, Houston

David Schlottman
Partner, Dallas

Jessica Schwartz
Associate, Dallas

Jeremy I. Sheng
Partner, Houston

Sang Shin
Partner, Houston

Jocelyn Thibodaux Slater
Associate, Houston

Noah Speck
Senior Counsel, Houston

Nathaniel St. Clair, II
Partner, Dallas

Jackie C. Staple
Associate, Houston

Yenmi Tang
Staff Attorney, Houston

Meredith S. Tavallaee
Associate, Dallas

Austin Thomas
Senior Counsel, Houston

Alicia Vesely
Associate, Austin

Beth Wallace
Associate, Dallas

Hannah Walsh
Associate, Dallas

Courtney J. White
Senior Counsel, Dallas

Chelsea T. Wood
Partner, Fort Worth

Austin Yancy
Associate, Houston

Catharine Yen
Senior Counsel, Houston

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