At Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, our commitment to diversity means that we are continually working to surpass our previous efforts in recruitment, retention and promotion of diverse attorneys. We continue to expand our outreach to the legal community through our diversity initiatives, business development, community involvement and pro bono engagements. We are honored by the recognitions that affirm these efforts and are always driven to do more.
2017 Thomas Sager Award Acceptance Speech
For the past nine years, Akin Gump has received a top rating of 100 percent on the Corporate Equality Index (CEI), an annual survey administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The firm received top marks for its treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and clients. Each year, HRC invites the largest and most successful public and private companies in the United States to participate in the rating process.
Akin Gump was proud to be the 2017 recipient of the Thomas L. Sager Award, presented by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association at their annual gala on October 4, 2017. The award is presented each year to a firm that “demonstrated sustained commitment to improving the hiring, retention and promotion of diverse attorneys.” The firm was one of three finalists in 2015 and 2016 as well and has been honored with the award on four previous occasions, going back to its debut presentation in 1999.
Akin Gump has been named to The American Lawyer’s A-List three times in the past four years, with the most recent honor received in July of 2015. The A-List is compiled based on survey scores for diversity, pro bono, associate satisfaction and revenue.
In October, 2016, Outward Bound USA honored Akin Gump for displaying “a shared commitment to diversity and inclusion.” Outward bound stated, “Since its founding, [Akin Gump] has sought to promote diversity and break down barriers to achievement. Its firm culture sees differences as strengths, and the organization actively promotes this value.”
In September, 2016, Akin Gump was ranked among the 100 best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces in the US by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
In July, 2016, Akin Gump was recognized by KIPP Public Charter Schools for 10 years of service as the organization’s national pro bono partner. KIPP is a nonprofit nationwide network of college-preparatory, public charter schools serving elementary, middle and high school students. The organization, founded in 1994, has 200 schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia, serving nearly 80,000 students in educationally underserved communities, whom it prepares for success in college and life. Akin Gump has provided more than 17,800 pro bono hours to KIPP over the past decade as part of a strategic partnership formed and fostered by the firm’s pro bono practice.
In November, 2015, Akin Gump was named by the Houston Chronicle as one of the Top Workplaces in Houston. The firm was highlighted for, among other things, its domestic partner healthcare benefits.
Akin Gump was recognized by The American Lawyer as a 2015 Diversity Scorecard Honoree for being one of the “top firms for diversity.”
In June, 2015, the firm’s work on behalf of Central America women and children seeking asylum in the United States was recognized by the State Bar of Texas as, at its annual meeting, the organization honored the firm with its W. Frank Newton Award. The award recognized the pro bono efforts of attorney groups, such as law firms and corporate law departments, whose members have made “an outstanding contribution toward increasing access to legal services for the poor.”
In June, 2015, the firm was recognized by the LGBT Law Section of the State Bar of Texas for it’s “Advocacy for Equality in Texas” at the section’s annual meeting. The expression of appreciation was based on the firm’s pro bono representation of two same-sex couples in De Leon v. Perry, in which the plaintiffs are seeking to overturn elements of the Texas Constitution and Texas law that prohibit same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages performed out of state.
Attorneys in the Spotlight
In October, 2016, Los Angeles associate Vanessa Roma was selected as one of Variety magazine’s 2016 New Leaders in the area of law. The list profiled individuals 40 and under considered by the publication to be “the most prominent up-and-comers to watch out for in Hollywood.”
In September, 2016, Kerry Berchem, New York partner and head of Akin Gump’s corporate practice was selected for inclusion in the New York Law Journal’s inaugural group of the Top Women in Law. Berchem and the others on the list who come from across the Empire State, were chosen because of their notable achievements over the past year. According to the publication, they are all “making strides to push the legal profession forward for women,”
Alison Chen, partner in Akin Gump’s Houston office, was selected by Houston Business Journal as one of its 40 Under 40 award winners for 2016.
In September, 2016, Los Angeles partner Dino Barajas was named as one of the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Most Influential Minority Lawyers in Los Angeles. The Business Journal refers to him as “one of the nation’s foremost domestic and international project development and finance attorneys” who has a successful track record of executing significant deals throughout the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.
In September, 2016, Dallas partner Michelle Reed was selected as a Rising Star by Texas Lawyer. Texas Lawyer’s 2016 Lawyers on the Rise are lawyers under the age of 40 “who have established a record of accomplishments and demonstrated that they are top contributors to the practice of law and their communities.
In, August 2016, Karol Kepchar, partner and chair of the firmwide diversity committee, was ranked as one of the world’s leading trademark professionals by World Trademark Review.
In June, 2016, partner Helen Marshall and counsel Caroline-Lucy Moran were winners of the Euromoney Legal Media Group’s Europe Women in Business Award The awards recognize women who are “leading the field in the legal sector.”
In June, 2016, Katie Brossy, senior counsel in the firm’s American Indian and Policy practice, was selected by Biznow for its Top 40 Lawyers Under 40. The list recognizes “some of the…most talented young lawyers in Washington.”
In April, 2016, Philadelphia partner Kate Katchen received a “Distinguished Advocate for Children” award from Support Center for Child Advocates, a leading pro bono legal and social service advocacy organization for abused and neglected children in Philadelphia. The award honors those who have devoted “countless hours to improving the lives of traumatized children.”
New York partner Deborah Newman was recognized in April 2016 by Law360 in its annual “Rising Stars” series, which honors top lawyers under 40 years of age based on their career accomplishments in their respective fields.
In March, 2016, Houston partner Alison Chen was selected as a recipient of the Texas Diversity Council’s Most Powerful and Influential Women award, which highlights women “that excemplify undeniable leadership by demonstrating commitment to community well being and significantly impact company revenues and profitability.”
Hong Kong partner Tatman Savio was named the “Best Regulatory Lawyer of the Year” at the Women in Compliance Awards 2016 in March. The Annual Women in Compliance Awards were created to recognize and celebrate “the successes and achievements of female compliance and professionals from across the corporate spectrum.”
In March 2016, New York partner Meredith Lahale was named to Global Restructuring Review’s 40 Under 40 list for 2016 – a list of the world’s leading young restructuring lawyers, aged 40 and under.
Chris LaFollette, partner in charge of the Houston office, was recognized in March by the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce (GHWCC) as being among the region’s leading businesswomen. In 2014, LaFollette was inducted into (GHWCC)’s Hall of Fame for significantly contributing to advancing women, improving the quality of life for future Houstonians and agreeing with the GHWCC’s mission.
In March 2016, New York counsel Eli Miller received an Outstanding Team Award from Her Justice as part of the organization’s annual Commitment to Justice awards. The awards recognize “the unwavering commitment” of Her Justice volunteers who donated their time and knowledge last year to help women and their families receive much-needed legal support.