Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards: North America 2021

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Chambers Diversity and Inclusion Awards 2020

Chambers D&I Awards: North America 2021 Overview

We are delighted to host the Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards: North America 2021, in association with Kirkland and Ellis LLP, virtually. These awards celebrate the fantastic achievements of firms and individuals who are furthering the advancement of diversity and inclusion across the USA and Canada.

Since 2012, the Chambers team have conducted in-depth research and hosted numerous diversity seminars across the USA which include events and awards in both New York and Miami.

This year’s awards provide the opportunity to shine the spotlight on role models and trailblazers in pro bono and corporate social responsibility as well as inclusion. The 2020 awards achieved a number of firsts: the first D&I awards to include Canada; first virtual Chambers awards; and the first to include an awards for Veterans Program of the Year.

This year we are including an environment and sustainability award for the first time, celebrating the work of firms and companies in embedding these values in business strategy and culture. Despite not being able to celebrate together, we look forward to having a fantastic digital attendance and shining a light on the trailblazing diversity, inclusion and pro bono work carried out by organisations and individuals.

The awards are in association with Kirkland and Ellis

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USA Private Practice – Individual Categories

Future Leader
Aalok Sharma – Stinson LLP
Abha T. Fadipe – Burris Law, PLLC
Alexandra Daniels – Baker McKenzie
Andrew Smith – Greenberg Traurig, LLC
Alain Mathieu – Mintz
Carla Jordan-Detamore – Vinson & Elkins LLP
James Alphonse Nortey – Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Jervonne Newsome – Winston & Strawn LLP (formerly of Lynn Pinker Hurst & Schwegmann)
Lisa M. Kpor – Holland & Knight
Kaydene Grinnell – Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Nabil Rodriguez – Greenspoon Marder LLP
Neha Dagley – Rivero Mestre LLP
Nicole E. De Leon – Cairncross & Hempelmann
Tanisha Reed – McGuireWoods LLP
Tara Jackson – Akerman LLP

Carla Jordan-Detamore – Vinson & Elkins LLP – Winner 

Carla is a senior associate in the complex commercial litigation practice group. Her practice primarily focuses on white collar criminal defense, government investigations, class action defense, and civil litigation. Clients say: ‘Carla’s innovative thinking, attention to detail, organizational skills, and servant leadership style makes her an invaluable member of any team. Carla’s dedication to a diverse and inclusive legal profession, especially when it comes to creating a pipeline for pre-law students and law students from underserved and underrepresented communities, will leave a legacy for generations to come.’

Neha Dagley – Rivero Mestre LLP – Highly Commended  

Neha serves as a leader of professional organizations devoted to raising the standards for the legal profession, promoting diversity in the legal community, and building cross-border relationships, including as Chair of the India Subcommittee to The Florida Bar’s International Law Section Asia Committee, and President of the Australia United States Lawyers Alliance, Inc. Additionally, she currently serves as an attorney member of a Florida Bar Grievance Committee.    


Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year
Amy Warr – Alexander Dubose & Jefferson
David Wood – Akerman LLP
Kelly K. Burris – Burris Law, PLLC
Mark A. Melton – Holland & Knight
Mark Kinghorn – McGuireWoods LLP
Richard Mancino – Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Rob Roberts – Ropes & Gray LLP
Susan M. Finegan – Mintz
Tawfiq S. Rangwala – Milbank LLP
Thomas Linn – Miller Canfield

Tawfiq S. Rangwala – Milbank LLP – Winner
Tawfiq S. Rangwala is a partner in the New York office of Milbank LLP and a member of the firm’s Litigation & Arbitration Group. Tawfiq has made pro bono work a mainstay throughout his 20-year career with Milbank. From 2002-2020, he has committed more than 3,800 hours to pro bono matters, averaging 192 hours per year. As a partner, Tawfiq has dedicated an average of 256 hours per year, with 532 hours contributed in 2020. The firm strongly supports his pro bono work, allocating more than 35,000 hours to Tawfiq’s core matters over the years, valued at more than $21 million. Clients say about his pro bono approach: ‘His level of care sets the bar. He exemplifies excellence in pro bono work through his demonstrated passion, hard work, and client-focused care.’ 

Kelly K. Burris – Burris Law, PLLC – Highly Commended
Kelly is the owner and founder of Burris Law, PLLC. A licensed pilot since 1985 and an aeronautical engineer in her prior career, Kelly has a natural affinity for aerospace technology, but she also works in many other sectors. Kelly is an active volunteer pilot with Angel Flight Central and Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic, non-profit organizations that provide free air transportation to medical patients in need. Pre-COVID, Kelly would often combine business trips with her role as a volunteer pilot, detouring her route to get a patient to a location for medical attention.  

Kelly also provides pro bono IP representation for the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots founded by Amelia Earhart. While providing copyright and trademark support, she also works with this organization to help young women find jobs in aviation. Clients say: ‘Kelly’s focus on diversity and inclusion extends from the people she hires at her law firm to the local artwork she puts on the walls of that law firm. Kelly opened her own office in an urban renewal section of Detroit. She bet on the city and her diverse workforce. She has never looked back. Nor have her clients who followed her there.’ 

Diversity & Inclusion Lawyer of the Year
Alexander C. Touma – White & Case LLP
Brandon Vaughn – Robins Kaplan
Catherine Dargan – Covington & Burling LLP
Cheryl Bush – Bush Seyferth PLLC
Harold Franklin – King & Spalding
Jonathan P. Harmon – McGuireWoods LLP
Purvi Patel – Morrison & Foerster
Regina Sam Penti – Ropes & Gray LLP
Sameer Advani – Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Sharon Ng – Stinson LLP

Catherine Dargan – Covington & Burling LLP – Winner 

Catherine Dargan leads the firm’s Corporate and Mergers & Acquisitions practices and has advised numerous companies on their important strategic transactions for over 20 years.  Clients say: “Catherine is a truly exceptional deal lawyer and we were fortunate to have her lead one of my company’s most important and transformative transactions. She is also dedicated to improving diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and inside her own firm. She partnered with me to field a diverse team of Covington lawyers, and I saw first-hand how she provided opportunities to women and diverse lawyers to play key roles in the transaction. Catherine’s mentorship is critical to building the next generation of women and diverse lawyers in the deal space, and she should be recognized for her systematic efforts and the results she is achieving.” 

Sharon Ng – Stinson LLP – Highly commended 

Sharon is an experienced litigator and D&I trailblazer who serves as a Board member of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association. Clients say: ‘I have observed her growth as not only a hard-working partner at her firm, but also within her legal community. She has led the implementation of programs designed to assist attorneys of color, including the Perfecting Your Pitch Program. She even asked me to volunteer for the program to provide the perspective as an in-house attorney.’ 

Outstanding Contribution
Amy M. Stewart – Stewart Law Group
Brian Winterfeldt – Winterfeldt IP Group, PLLC
Darren Skinner – Arnold & Porter
Marilyn Holifield – Holland & Knight
Melinda (“Mindy”) Gentile – Peckar & Abramson, P.C.
Meshach Rhoades – Armstrong Teasdale
Robert Vaughan – Kim Vaughan Lerner LLP
Ruben Castillo – Akerman LLP
Tracy Richelle High – Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Vidhya Prabhakaran – Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Rubén Castillo- Akerman LLP – Winner 

Rubén Castillo, a first chair litigator, focuses his practice on corporate investigations, white collar criminal defense, private arbitration, and mediation work for litigants. 

Clients say: ‘Ruben Castillo has advanced diversity in our profession both in his example and his actions.  Not only did he serve as the Northern District of Illinois’s first Latino judge and then first Latino Chief Judge, while there he also took steps to promote and implement diversity, such as making jury pools more diverse by expanding data collection to sources such as driver’s license data and unemployment data, and, as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, addressing disparities in the sentencing guidelines that disproportionately impacted communities of color.  Now in the private sector, he continues to make a difference by mentoring and promoting the advancement of young, diverse attorneys while serving private clients as a trusted legal advisor at the top of his game.’ 

Robert Vaughan – Kim Vaughan Lerner LLP – Highly commended 
Robert C.L. Vaughan focuses his practice on commercial litigation, products liability and arbitration. He represents clients in US state and federal courts and in matters pending before Caribbean courts. He also currently serves as the president of the Broward County Bar Association and through this role he has truly been able to educate lawyers, judges, government officials and community leaders on the importance of recognizing bias, and to securing representation for every race, gender, religion, nationality, ethnicity and economic background in the criminal justice system. 

Lifetime Achievement Award:
Terrence M. Franklin – Sacks Glazier Franklin & Lodise 
Terrence Franklin had built up a trusts and estate litigation practice for nearly 25 years before using this knowledge to “Help Bend the Arc of History Towards Justice”. In dozens of high profile presentations, interviews and articles Terrence has retraced his journey to uncover his fourth great-grandfather’s will, and the unexpected will contest that threatened to keep his family enslaved. His activism has also led him to help develop and then host the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel’s “Planning for a Diverse and Equitable Future” series, serve on the Board of Directors of Outfest since 2014 and work with a number of universities across the United States. 

USA Private Practice – Firm Awards

Environment/Sustainability Program of the Year
Dechert LLP
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP – Winner 

Willkie has implemented myriad sustainability initiatives to reduce its environmental impact nclusing programs related to energy and water, technology, waste, travel and procurement, as well as pro bono work and community involvement. As a member of the Law Firm Sustainability Network, the firm is committed to promoting the benefits of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. The firm’s initiatives include sponsoring urban beehives on the roof of its New York headquarters, launching an Environmental Analyst internship program, achieving LEED certification for all of its U.S. offices by 2021, operating its London and Brussels offices on 100% renewable energy, and achieving significant energy savings through technological improvements such as virtualized servers. In recognition of these efforts and others, Willkie earned a Gold ranking from the American Legal Industry Sustainability Standard this year. 

Dechert LLP – Highly Commended 

Dechert has been working pro bono for over six years in conjunction with the Pinelands Preservation Alliance to save New Jersey’s Pinelands. The conservation area was threatened by the proposed building of a natural gas pipeline that would have cut through some 15 miles of the largest remaining Atlantic coastal pine barrens ecoregion. The project’s regulatory approval was premised on the supplying of natural gas to a new power generating facility on the site of the B.L. England power plant. The owners of B.L. England withdrew as intervenors from the Pineland Preservation Alliance’s pending appeal, announcing that they no longer intended to re-power the facility with natural gas – undermining the pipeline’s regulatory approval. The termination of both projects is a major win for the clean energy movement. The B.L. England site is now mooted as a possible location to connect offshore wind projects to the energy grid. 

Veterans Program of the Year
Covington & Burling LLP
McGuireWoods LLP

McGuireWoods LLP – Winner
McGuireWoods is a leading National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) partner for providing pro bono representation to veterans seeking discharge upgrades and in providing brief service and advice to injured Special Forces servicemembers. McGuireWoods volunteer lawyers also provide free appellate level legal representation to veterans seeking VA service-connected disability benefits at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Clients say: ‘Without the pro bono representation provided by McGuireWoods volunteer lawyers, many veterans would not have access to the disability benefits they are entitled to.’ 

Covington & Burling LLP – Highly Commended
The firm has over three dozen attorneys with prior US military service. A half dozen firm lawyers continue to serve in the Reserves and Covington’s recruiting pipeline includes another 18 US veterans joining the firm. On the pro bono front, in the last several years nearly 400 Covington attorneys have worked nearly 31,000 hours on pro bono veteran-related matters. 

Clients say: ‘Covington’s partnership with Northrop Grumman to sponsor an Equal Justice Works Fellow has helped veterans in numerous ways, including with discharge upgrades and with pathways to citizenship. Our partnership helps to make a positive impact in the lives of our veterans.’ 

Outstanding Firm for Pro Bono
Baker McKenzie
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Kirkland & Ellis
Jenner & Block LLP
Joseph Saveri Law Firm, Inc.
McGuireWoods LLP
Milbank LLP
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP

Jenner & Block LLP – Winner
Since the firm began tracking its pro bono hours nearly three decades ago, Jenner & Block has provided more than 1.7 million hours of pro bono service. In 2020, the firm provided 68,742 lawyer pro bono hours, with 100% of lawyers dedicating more than 20 pro bono hours, for an average of 148 hours per lawyer last year. 

Clients say: ‘Jenner & Block served as pro bono co-counsel in Sharp v. Murphy, arguing the case at the US Supreme Court. The resulting opinion in our favor (issued along with McGirt v. Oklahoma) was the most significant tribal law ruling from the Supreme Court in a generation. The impact of the decision can’t be overstated—it upheld tribal sovereignty across millions of acres of land in Oklahoma and was not only a win for Mr. Murphy and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, but for all of Indian Country. I commend the firm for its willingness to take on difficult pro bono cases like this one and to devote so much time and attention to them.  It was truly extraordinary.’ 

Kirkland & Ellis – Highly Commended
Kirkland’s extensive pro bono efforts have focused on civil rights and human rights, death penalty cases, disability rights, immigration, voting rights, education, LGBTQ+ rights, homeless issues, and veterans’ concerns. One of the main areas of focus for 2020 has been a partnership with the City Bar Justice Center, the pre-eminent bar association in the New York City, and the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation a nationwide legal capacity-building legal nonprofit, Kirkland conceived of and established the COVID-19 Small Business Remote Legal Clinic, to assist small business owners suddenly in desperate need of help with legal questions. A first-of-its-kind initiative, the clinic offered pro bono legal consultations to help business owners gain access to grants and loans available under the CARES Act and other economic empowerment programs, as well as providing brief legal advice relating to their commercial leases, contracts, employment questions, insurance concerns, and dissolution issues.  

Building on the success of the New York clinic, Kirkland assisted in launching similar clinics in 11 other cities across the country, an effort that involved more than 100 law firms and corporate legal departments and more than 1,600 law firm and in house attorneys nationwide. To date, the clinics have screened or advised more than 2,500 entrepreneurs through regional programs in New York, Boston, Metro Detroit, Washington State, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Connecticut and Alaska. 

Outstanding Firm for D&I
Cairncross & Hempelmann
Covington & Burling
Griesing Law, LLC
Holland & Knight
Kirkland & Ellis
Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila
Ropes & Gray LLP
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP
Stewart Law Group
Wilkinson Stekloff LLP
Willenken LLP

DTO Law – Winner
DTO Law was formed by former Big Law attorneys, who had a vision of starting a law firm 100% owned by women and people of color. 50% of partners are female, 50% are ethnic minorities and 25% of partners are LGBT+. Clients say: ‘DTO Law is truly a model law firm when it comes to Diversity & Inclusion within this profession. Members of the firm proudly support various organizations such as the South Asian Bar Association of Southern California; National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the National LGBT Bar Association and Foundation, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, and the Hispanic National Bar Association, among others.’ 

Wilkinson Stekloff LLP – Highly Commended
Diversity and inclusion were the founding principles of Wilkinson Stekloff.  From the start, the firm set out to become the go-to firm for the biggest and most significant trials in courtrooms across the country.  But it wanted to accomplish that goal in a groundbreaking way—by offering clients a diverse and to roster of trial lawyers, rather than resting its reputation on one or a small handful of attorneys.  Only by developing a diverse and deep bench could the firm truly excel in communicating with jury pools across the country. 

Clients say: ‘The firm’s D&I commitment is borne out in the diversity of the lawyers from top to bottom that Wilkinson Stekloff brings to our matters.  For example, of the five partners who currently work on our matters, all but one is either a woman or a person of color.  And including counsel and associates, the overwhelming majority of lawyers on our matters are women or people of color.  Every one of those lawyers is an active participant in developing and executing our legal strategy.’ 

USA In-House – Individual Awards

Corporate Social Responsibility Lawyer of the Year
Cathy Konwisarz – National Energy Services Reunited Corp
Glen Rae – Bank of America

Cathy Konwisarz – National Energy Services Reunited Corp – Winner
Cathy is the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of National Energy Services Reunited Corp, having been appointed to this position just over a year ago. In her time as GC, she has created a diverse team of in house lawyers and worked to revamp the company’s ESG program, aligning it with United Nations principles. Her work in this area extends beyond her own organization, and she sits on the Board of Directors for two non-profit organisationsWomen Offshore, which supports a diverse workforce for offshore energy facilities and Combined Arms, who work to accelerate the transition of veterans from military to civilian life.  

Diversity and Inclusion Lawyer of the Year
Azura Mason – Barclays
Chaka Patterson – Adtalem Global Education
David R. McAtee II – AT&T
Juliette Pryor – Albertsons Company
Kelvina Smith – Lloyds Banking Group
Lisa Parlato LeDonne – Honeywell
Shonn Brown – Kimberly-Clark Corporation

Juliette Pryor, General Counsel at Albertsons Company – Winner
Juliette joined Albertons Companies in 2020 (midway through the pandemic) but her impact has already been felt! Her efforts are ongoing, but include recommitting the organisation to new internal D&I goals, creating an RFP for all vendors which includes diversity metrics and being part of an effort to arrange the $5 million donation Albertsons made towards social justice organisations in 2020. Juliette sits on the advisory council for the Black General Counsel 2025 Initiative, and this award is one of the many she has received in this area, including recognition by Black Enterprise as one of the most powerful executives in corporate America.  

Outstanding Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion
Chasity Wilson Henry – CECO Environmental Corporation
Danielle Coleman – VMware
James Chosy – U.S. Bank
Joel Unruch – Accenture
Kate Karas – Chime
Luciana Fato – American International Group, Inc.
Sarita Venkat – Apple
Sharon Barner – Cummins
Sumeet Haresh Chugani – Apple Bank for Savings
Tracy Hannan – Exelon

Kate Karas, General Counsel at Chime – Winner
Kate is General Counsel at Chime Financial Inc, and serves on their Executive Committee. Her team self identifies as a ‘majority minority’ team, with over 90% of her team and 100% of the team’s leadership identifying themselves as diverse. Kate has opened Chime’s RFP process to smaller firms and law firms that are minority or female owned, and any firm engaged is required to demonstrate commitment to diversity. She not only pushes firms for female and minority partners to be given origination credit and for diverse junior attorneys to be given exposure to her and senior leadership within the legal team, but impressively also follows up personally with firm management to ensure they meet her high expectations and identify necessary areas of improvement. 

USA In-House – Company Awards

Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year
Credit Suisse

Adobe– Winner
When it comes to Adobe’s CSR programme, the numbers speak for themselves.
In 2019 70% of their employees engage with CSR activities across over 60,000 nonprofit organisations, and the organisation invested approximately $50 million in communities. The organisation has committed to not just offset their carbon footprint but fundamentally change it by creating a goal of 100% reliance on renewable energy sources. Amongst their many CSR and D&I achievements Adobe has been recognised by FTSE4Good as one of their Civic 50, marking Adobe as one of the most community-minded organisations in America. 

Outstanding Company for Furthering Diversity and Inclusion
Bank of America
BASF Corporation
Eaton Corporation Legal Department
General Motors
McDonald’s Corporation
PVH Corp
Toyota North America

Toyota Motor North America, Inc. – Winner
Toyota not only expects but requires it’s outside legal counsel to demonstrate actionable steps towards advancing D&I, asking for detailed reports on how firms staff every matter (including the diversity makeup of the team and it’s leadership, as well as how business credits are awarded). And they don’t just expect excellence in D&I from their firms, but also work to ensure their own commitment to diversity is evidenced throughout the organisation. Toyota have received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for the past 13 years, and have recently more than doubled the number of women in senior manager field sales roles in just two years. Toyota Financial Services also issued a TFS issued a $750 million diversity and inclusion bond in 2020, only open to underwriting by minority and female-owned investment banking firms. They also have more than 100 Business Partnering Groups across the organisation, which focus on specific areas of D&I to lead on diversity outreach and serve their local communities. 

Canada Private Practice – Firm Award

Outstanding Law Firm for D&I
Aird & Berlis LLP
Dentons Canada LLP
McCarthy Tétrault LLP
Miller Thomson LLP
Monkhouse Law Employment Lawyers

Dentons Canada LLP – Winner
Dentons’ D&I work in 2020 focussed on addressing anti-Black racism. A critical step saw the launch of the Black Professionals Network, led by the firm’s Chief Financial Officer (a black woman). Dentons has created a three pillar system to address anti-Black racism, creating a strategic framework to advance dozens of programs and initiatives as well as measure their progress. Crucially, the program not only ensures diverse individuals within the firm are listened to but that the increased knowledge and understanding is backed up by action. This includes participation in a ten year commitment (alongside 12 other law firms) to provide CA$1.5 million in funding for the Black Future Lawyers program.  

Canada In-House – Individual Award

Outstanding Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion
Abigail Tulloch, Infrastructure Ontario
Gassim Bangoura, Birks Group Inc.
Jennifer Suess, RioCan REIT
Terrie-Lynne Devonish, Staples Canada
Dr. Vishal Sodha, Arysta LifeScience North America LLC, UPL AgroSolutions Canada Inc

Abigail Tulloch, Infrastructure Ontario – Winner
Abigail is Senior Legal Counsel at Infrastructure Ontario. She transformed the organisation’s approach to D&I to better address anti-racism and specifically anti-Black racism, and onboarded the strategy to IO’s senior leadership and Board of Directors. This included the structuring and leading of an Anti-Racism Working Committee of over 70 employees, championing increased data and metric collection with the organisation’s first demographic survey (which received a participation rate of 83%) and secure approval to hire a Head of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion. The impact of her work is felt not only internally, but externally through the organisation’s support of corporations and institutions across Ontario and wider Canada.  

Canada In-House – Company Award

Outstanding Company for Diversity and Inclusion
Birks Group Inc.

Birks Group Inc. – Winner
In 2020 Birks Group created a Taskforce to drive change and development in anti-racism, diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organisation. An initiative founded after the murder of George Floyd, their goal is to identify opportunities that will ignite meaningful change. The initiative includes Gassim Bangoura, the Director of Legal Affairs and Assistant Company Secretary, demonstrating senior level commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive workforce.  

Sponsorship opportunities for Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards 2021

For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact our Business Development Manager, Egle Maconkaite: