Back Row: Andrew Do, Chukwukpee Nzegwu, Fatemeh Shahkolahi, Taylor Nichols, Dominic Gilani, not pictured, Savannah Stack
Front Row: Alba Sanchez Fabelo, Cymone Gosnell, Sudipta Das, Thaakirah Cason, Juan Parcero
This fall, a group of 11 accomplished and diverse students began their legal careers with vital financial and professional support, thanks to a new collaboration between four top law firms and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.
DLA Piper; Gallagher Evelius & Jones; Miles & Stockbridge; and Pessin Katz have joined forces with Maryland Carey Law to launch the Diversity and Inclusion Scholars Initiative, an effort to ensure that Maryland’s legal community becomes as diverse as the population of the state itself. [See a list of scholarship winners and comments from each of the firms below.]
“We are incredibly grateful to these firms for their leadership in addressing this challenge,” said Dean Donald B. Tobin. “Together, they have provided us with almost $700,000 to launch this program. Our profession has talked about the importance of increasing diversity for years. This new collaboration is a significant step toward achieving that goal here in Maryland. I hope every law firm in the state will join us.”
Maryland Carey Law and the University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation are also contributing to the new program.
Increasing diversity is a challenge for the legal profession both in Maryland and nationally. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, law is one of the least racially diverse professions in the nation. Eighty-eight percent of lawyers are white. Meanwhile, women constitute a third of the profession, but only 17 percent of equity partners.
Firms participating in the new Initiative believe that increasing diversity makes sound financial sense for them and for the profession, as the statements from their representatives, below, show.
The Diversity and Inclusion Scholars Initiative will offer financial and professional support every year to approximately 10 academically talented first-year students at Maryland Carey Law. Diversity Scholars also must have demonstrated leadership and an ability to overcome challenges to their professional values and career goals.
The first class of Diversity Scholars includes 11 students. They speak nine languages among them and come to Maryland Carey Law from their home states of California, Texas and Maryland.
In addition to financial support during the law school’s three-year JD program, collaborating law firms and Maryland Carey Law will provide scholarship recipients with opportunities to participate in:
- Individual mentoring from attorneys whose firms are part of the Initiative
- Firm-hosted networking events
- Events for the Baltimore legal community, such as bar association meetings, receptions, etc.
- Law school diversity programing
- Mock interviewing and other skills-building exercises
Each firm has representatives on an internal committee to support the program and suggest strategies to increase the students’ engagement in the Baltimore legal community. The firm representatives are:
- DLA Piper: Guy Flynn and Thiru Vignarajah
- Gallagher Evelius & Jones: Camille Parker ‘00 and Brian Tucker ‘02
- Miles & Stockbridge: Yodeski Acquie ‘13 and N. Gordon Knox ‘98
- Pessin Katz: James Benjamin ‘01 and Mark Maneche
“This is just the beginning,” said Dean Tobin. “We believe the need and support for this program will only grow—and that firms across the state will make sure that happens.”
COMMENTS FROM DONOR FIRMS
“Despite various efforts within the legal industry over a long period of time to diversity our ranks, most would agree that the results haven’t measured up to expectations. We, as a profession and as individual firms, therefore, have a lot more work to do if we are to achieve and maintain the levels of diversity and inclusion that we expect of ourselves.” –Guy E. Flynn, Partner
Gallagher Evelius & Jones LLP
“Although there have been improvements over the years, I think that there still remains a significant underrepresentation of certain socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, gender, cultural, and religious groups in the legal profession. The other gap is the fact that these diverse professionals are not always provided with the tools that will enable them to develop adequately, so that they can advance and be promoted at the same level and at the same pace as their counterparts…If there is a focus on inclusion and equality, not only will there be more successful legal professionals, but these professionals will also enrich the quality of services provided to clients.” –Camille A. Parker ’00, Partner
Miles & Stockbridge, P.C.
“The concept of diversity is sometimes thought of too simplistically, as it ignores inclusion—another important aspect of achieving a richer, more effective and equitable workplace culture. Law firms must continue to take steps to close the gaps in becoming more diverse and creating more inclusive workplace cultures.” –John Frisch ’83, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Pessin Katz LLP
“While a younger, more diverse population of lawyers are replacing the older, less diverse population, the process has been a slow one. We hope this new initiative will help attract a new group of diverse and skilled lawyers to the legal work force in Baltimore.” –Mark Menache, Member
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION SCHOLARS
Maryland Carey Law is proud of the fact that 29 percent of this fall’s new students are members of a minority group, a figure consistent with enrollment for the last several years. Here is the first group of Diversity and Inclusion Scholars and their undergraduate institutions.
- Thaakirah Cason, University of Baltimore ‘17
- Sudipta Das, University of Maryland College Park ‘17
- Andrew Do, University of Maryland College Park ‘13
- Alba Sanchez Fabelo, Loyola University Maryland ‘16
- Dominic Gilani, The University of Texas at Dallas ‘16
- Cymone Gosnell, Loyola University of Maryland ‘15
- Taylor Nichols, New York University ‘16
- Chukwukpee Nzegwu, Vanderbilt University ‘17
- Juan Parcero, University of California Los Angeles ‘16
- Fatemeh Shahkolahi, Notre Dame of Maryland ‘10
- Savanna Stack, Arizona State University ‘14