Delaware Barrister’s Association Honors Joseph K. West With Louis L. Redding Lifetime Achievement Award

Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 15:11

The Delaware Barrister’s Association will honor Joseph K. West with its prestigious Louis L. Redding Achievement Award at its Benefits & Awards Gala, to take place on November 14, 2014. The award recognizes an individual who has made a lifelong commitment to diversity and promoted the business case for diversity in academia and in the legal profession.

Mr. West, president and CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) since 2011, is a nationally recognized leader on diversity and inclusion issues earned over a 20-plus year career in the legal field. Upon taking the helm at MCCA, Mr. West immediately implemented a number of programs focused on increasing the MCCA’s ability to expand opportunities for women and minority lawyers. He created the MCCA Academy for Leadership and Inclusion, a training program designed to identify barriers to inclusion in the profession and to eradicate them. He oversaw the re-design of the MCCA website. He created the MCCA Blueprint program and the MCCA Exchange, programs designed to help in-house counsel with career development and law firm members hone their business development skills. He led an overhaul of MCCA’s scholarship and mentoring programs and CLE offerings. He launched research projects ranging from global diversity, to a study of Generation Y lawyers, to corporate legal department demographic surveys and toolkits. He has forged partnerships with the Just The Beginning Foundation, the National Association of Women Lawyers, the National Bar Association, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association and other organizations. He recently announced that MCCA would serve as the point organization for the Engage Excellence program, which tracks the amount of spend that major corporations direct to women and minority lawyers. As a result of his efforts, MCCA’s membership has almost tripled since his tenure began.

Mr. West came to MCCA after an exceptional stint as associate general counsel at Walmart Stores, Inc., where he established himself as an innovator in the legal services arena and a leading advocate for diversity and inclusion. At Walmart, he served as head of the outside counsel management group. In that role, he was responsible for managing all aspects of Walmart’s relationships with its external law firms globally. This included oversight of over 600 firms and 25,000 lawyers and paralegals with an annual outside counsel spend of more than $300 million.

He also managed Walmart’s game-changing Relationship Partner Initiative where the company took over the process of naming the Walmart relationship partner and in the process, shifted more than $60 million of business to the control of women and minority lawyers. Mr. West went even further and pioneered an origination credit certification, which required that all of Walmart’s external firms certify in writing that the relationship partners the company selected were receiving origination credit for all Walmart work. He also implemented a requirement that all of the company’s external firms implement a flexible work policy in order to be eligible for Walmart work. All of these initiatives greatly contributed to the retention and advancement opportunities for women and minority attorneys.

Mr. West was recently awarded the 2014 Beacon of Diversity Award from the Black Entertainment Sports Lawyers Association (BELSA). The Washington Business Journal honored him with the 2014 Minority Business Leader Award. He made Walmart one of the initial signatories to the Inclusion Initiative with the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) and in 2009, that organization awarded him its prestigious Outstanding Advisory Council Member Award. In 2010, the National Bar Association recognized his contributions to the profession by naming him In-house Counsel of the Year. In 2005, ABC’s “Good Morning America” featured Mr. West in a segment for his heroic actions in helping save lives when he voluntarily rode out Hurricane Katrina at Methodist Hospital in New Orleans, La., in order to help care for stranded patients. He is a member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education and served on the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. Mr. West was also a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s ACC Value Challenge Steering Committee. He formerly served on the Arts Council of New Orleans and the Walton Arts Center Corporate Leadership Council. Former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco appointed Mr. West to chair the Louisiana State Museum Board. Former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial appointed him to the Orleans Parish Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. 

Prior to his tenure at Walmart, Mr. West was assistant general counsel at Entergy Corporation in New Orleans, where he managed a litigation team and handled numerous high-profile trials on behalf of the company, including a zero defense verdict in series of toxic tort matters, which resulted in a $1.06 billion jury verdict against one co-defendant.

A graduate from Tulane Law School, he was named a Faculty Honors Scholar and was also voted “Best Oralist” during first year oral arguments. He also served Tulane Law as an adjunct professor of trial advocacy. Mr. West received a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Southern University and also attended Louisiana State University and Georgetown University Law Center.