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Law Firm News: Legal Hiring, Law Firm Awards & Innovation – July 2021 Second Edition

Hope your summer is going well! We’re back with the second installment of our legal industry news recap for July. Read on for the latest news on law firm attorney moves, pro bono work, and recognition, innovation and inclusion.

Law Firm Hiring & Moves

Bricker & Eckler LLP added Rhonda Talford Knight as their Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. Ms. Knight past experience includes being the founder and CEO of The Knight Consulting Group, a diversity and inclusion resource, and helps Bricker engage in proactive practices designed to empower women and minorities as leaders within the firm and to implement programs that support alternative work arrangements and attract diverse talent.

“Bricker has a rich past of leading the way when it comes to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic diversity,” said Ms. Knight. “I’m eager to collaborate with attorneys and staff to take strategic efforts to the next level and invest in the future of the firm.”

“Rhonda’s arrival is a significant and deliberate move – not just for our law firm but for the legal industry as a whole. While this is a continuation of trailblazing efforts that have been in motion for quite some time, integrating Rhonda’s vast experience into firm leadership is a considerable milestone,” said Bricker Managing Partner Jim Flynn.

Quarles & Brady LLP added Timothy D’Arduini to their Labor and Employment Practice Group in their Washington, DC office, expanding the firm’s nation-wide team of experienced immigration and mobility practitioners and has demonstrated a commitment to developing diverse legal teams, having led cross-industry, multinational diversity initiatives.

“I am excited to join Quarles & Brady,” Mr. D’Arduini said. “It’s a firm with deep immigration knowledge, backed by leaders who understand that successfully managing the immigration and mobility needs and risks of a global workforce is key to our clients’ commercial success…”

“We’re thrilled to welcome Tim to the Quarles & Brady team,” said the Chair of Quarles’ Immigration team, Grant Sovern. “His impressive experience will help us grow our multidimensional national immigration team, and his reputation for outstanding client service and high quality work aligns with our client-first mindset. A compassionate leader with highly respected legal skills, Tim is the perfect addition to expand our focus and enhance our approach.”

Womble Bond Dickinson expanded their Education and Employment teams with the addition of Stephen J. Vaughan in their Washington, DC office. Mr. Vaughan represents clients in Title IX, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, Title VII, harassment and discrimination, employment law, and allegations of other individual, organizational, and institutional misconduct litigation and investigations.

“Colleges and universities face an increasingly complex regulatory landscape with limited resources. Our team includes experienced higher education lawyers, many who have been in-house themselves, to support our clients proactively, efficiently, and with a deep level of understanding of the challenges that they face. Stephen’s experience both in higher education and beyond will add to our strengths in serving our clients,” said the leader of Womble’s Education and School Law team Beth Tyner Jones.

Law Firm Pro Bono Work & Recognition

The St. Louis Business Journal (SBJ) recognized Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C.  as one of  St. Louis’ “Healthiest Employers.” During the pandemic, Greensfelder worked to make sure employees still had access to wellness resources and currently ensures employees have access to healthy foods in offices, wellness prizes and challenges, yoga and meditation classes and educational programs.

“We are very proud of this recognition from the St. Louis Business Journal that reflects our firm’s ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of our employees,” said Kevin T. McLaughlin, Greensfelder’s CEO and President.

To further advance their diversity and inclusion efforts, Varnum LLP announced their participation in the Mansfield Rule 5.0 Certification Process program. The Mansfield Rule helps law firms increase diversity in leadership roles and the program requires law firms to demonstrate progress in increasing diversity in senior recruitment and leadership decisions and consider at least thirty percent diverse candidates for these roles. Firms that implement the Mansfield Rule Certification increased the racial and ethnic diversity of their management committees by 30 times the rate of non-Mansfield Rule firms.

"We are committing to this process as part of our ongoing effort to increase diversity and to ensure that all people have the opportunity to succeed at our firm," said Scott Hill, an Executive Partner at Varnum, "We're excited to be working with Diversity Lab and to be part of the 5.0 program."

Varnum partner Luis Avila, the chair of Varnum’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee, said the certification process is a significant commitment by the firm.  Mr. Avia added: 

"I'm proud of our firm for seeing the value and committing to this process. While the program will require significant firmwide effort, we believe it will help us transform our commitment into measurable change."

Chambers USA selected Smith Currie as the 2021 U.S. Construction Law Firm of the Year. Per Chambers about Smith Currie’s Construction Law selection: 

“In a challenging year for the sector, clients looked to the construction specialists at Smith Currie for guidance through the unprecedented turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The firm’s  expertise in  healthcare-related  construction  saw it  well-placed to  steer  clients-deemed nationally essential  through  their  pandemic  response.” 

“We are very honored to be recognized by Chambers & Partners USA,” said Eric Nelson, Smith Currie’s managing partner.

Legal Industry Awards & Innovation

Bloomberg Law included Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP partner Amber M. Rogers in its first edition of the “They’ve Got Next: The 40 Under 40” list, a list of 40 lawyers under the age of 40 with track records of success in significant client matters. Bloomberg Law recognized Ms. Rogers for her “zealous advocacy, success in [her] client engagements, and [her] leadership at [her] firm and in [her] community.”

Ms. Rogers is the hiring partner of Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Dallas office and the first African-American woman elected to the firm’s Executive Committee. She also conducts sensitive workplace investigations and assists clients with traditional labor relations and litigation.

Additionally, Ms. Rogers is a co-founder of The Network of Empowered Women (NEW) Roundtable, which focuses on influencing, empowering and impacting the careers of African-American women attorneys. She also co-chairs the Dallas office diversity committee and the firm’s Diversity Oneness Luncheon series.

Jonathan Tycko of Tycko & Zavareei law firm joined the Executive Committee of the Qui Tam Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice (AAJ).

“I look forward to working with the other member of the Executive Committee to grow the Qui Tam Litigation Group, and to reach out to all of AAJ’s members to offer opportunities to learn about whistleblower litigation, Mr.Tycko:

“Qui tam cases brought under the False Claims Act, and other types of whistleblower cases, are incredibly important for exposing fraud and other illegal conduct, and it’s an honor to represent brave whistleblower clients in their quest for truth and justice.”

The Qui Tam Litigation Group is a networking and discussion group for AAJ members to educate themselves and share knowledge on whistleblower litigation.

Lorrie Marci, a partner in Sidley’s Energy practice, is serving as the At-Large Director for the USA Fencing Team for the Tokyo Olympics. She also serves on the team’ s Audit Committee, Ethics Committee, Background Screen Review Support Group, and Athletic Handbook Committee, among others.

Ms. Marci’s daughter, Katharine Holmes, is representing USA Fencing at the Tokyo Olympics. Ms. Holmes also represented the team as a member of the 2016 Olympic Team in Rio de Janeiro.

At Sidley, Ms. Marci represents energy firms through complex economic and regulatory matters.

Rachel Popa contributed to this article.

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