MCCA Announces Winners Of Paula Ettelbrick, George B. Vashon Awards

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 16:07

The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) has announced the recipients of the 2012 Paula L. Ettelbrick Award and the George B. Vashon Innovator Awards. The recipients were honored at MCCA’s Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference on September 10 in New York City.

MCCA bestowed the Paula L. Ettelbrick Award for the first time this year. MCCA created the award to celebrate extraordinary achievements by an individual or organization in advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender attorneys. The award is named for the late Paula L. Ettelbrick whose quarter-century of work for organizations like Lambda Legal, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission assisted thousands of individuals. Her career as an educator and mentor at institutions like New York University, Columbia University, and the University of Michigan helped transform the national discussion regarding equality. 

Receiving the inaugural Paula Ettelbrick Award was D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the National LGBT Bar Association. In this position, she manages collaboration between more than 25 affiliated local, state and regional LGBT bar associations and dozens of LGBT law student associations. She also speaks and writes widely on LGBT issues.

The George B. Vashon Innovator Award is given to in-house legal departments, law firms and bar associations that have led the way with innovative best practices to assist diverse attorneys. It was renamed this year in honor of scholar, abolitionist and lawyer George B. Vashon, who was the first licensed African American attorney in New York State (1848) and one of the first admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court (1867). Vashon was twice denied admission to the bar in Pennsylvania, including once after having been admitted by the U.S. Supreme Court. His determination to overcome these obstacles helped propel his distinguished career.

Receiving a George B. Vashon Innovator Award this year were:

  • Prudential Financial, Inc, whose two-year pilot program, Diverse Attorney Spotlight, identifies diverse attorneys at majority-owned law firms to work closely with Prudential on various assignments. These attorneys gain valuable experience in the financial services industry and enhance their professional profiles.
  • Duane Morris LLP, which greatly expanded their participation in MCCA’s Academy for Leadership & Inclusion training and has taken steps to expand the firm’s inclusion program in three areas: business development, acquisition, and retention and overall inclusion.
  • Goldberg Segalla LLP, which created a diversity-focused internship program in collaboration with the Minority Bar Association of Western New York and the University of Buffalo. During the program’s first summer, 25 law students got an in-depth look at the legal process and the interaction between the bench and the bar and developed important legal research, writing, case management and client service skills.
  • Target Corporation, which launched its Outside Counsel Scorecard process, which recognizes and rewards outside partner firms that demonstrate an actionable commitment to enhancing opportunities for women and diverse attorneys in the legal profession. The Scorecard also incentivizes outside firm partners to hire, retain and promote top diverse talent, who can staff Target matters accordingly.
  • Winston & Strawn LLP, which instituted a new mentoring structure that moves attorneys smoothly through the mentoring process, and produced communications and training tools housed on a new mentoring intranet site. The firm also established a Mentor of the Year Award to recognize mentors who provide access, insight and practical advice to their mentees.