Thomas L. Sager Award

The Thomas L. Sager Award (“Sager Award”) is presented to large Am Law 200 law firms (500+ attorneys) that champion a more diverse and inclusive workforce and have demonstrated a sustained commitment to improving the hiring, retention, and promotion of diverse attorneys. The Sager Award was first presented in 1999 and is named after former DuPont Senior Vice President and General Counsel Thomas L. Sager, a widely-respected leader in diversity.

MCCA determined the finalists and winners for the Sager Award based on its extensive review of the 2022 MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey submissions. The Survey launched in 2004, is the longest-standing diversity survey in the legal industry, that gathers insights about law firm demographics, leadership composition, and the hiring, retention, and promotion of diverse lawyers. MCCA utilizes an objective data-driven Diversity Scorecard to assess performance and impact.

MCCA recognized three separate Sager Award winners from three separate categories. The top ten firms for Category 5 firms (more than 501 lawyers), the top ten firms in Category 4 (250-500 lawyers), and the top labor and employment firms. The 2022 Sager finalists and winners were recognized on October 19, 2022, at our Diversity Gala.

Please join us as we celebrate MCCA’s 25th anniversary and celebrate all our honorees and their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

About Thomas L. Sager

For more than two decades, DuPont has worked to achieve a stronger, more equitable balance of race, ethnicity and gender throughout the organization. Like environmental stewardship or on-the-job safety, the company has made diversity a corporate value — and driven it into every segment of its operation, from recruiting to training to professional development. In DuPont’s legal department, Senior Vice President and General Counsel Tom Sager is a driving force for improving the hiring, retention, promotion, and involvement of minorities and women. Sager helped pioneer DuPont’s Convergence and Law Firm Partnering Program and continues oversight of the program today. Through his leadership, the DuPont Legal Model has received national acclaim for infusing business principles into the practice of law.

2022 THOMAS L. SAGER AWARD WINNERS

MCCA recognized three separate Sager Award winners from three separate categories. The top ten firms for Category 5 firms (more than 501 lawyers), the top ten firms in Category 4 (250-500 lawyers), and the top labor and employment firms. The 2022 Sager finalists and winners were recognized on October 19, 2022 at our Diversity Gala.

CATEGORY 5 WINNER

Freshfields

CATEGORY 4 WINNER

Freshfields

LABOR & EMPLOYMENT WINNER

Freshfields

2022 THOMAS L. SAGER AWARD FINALISTS

Top 10 finalists firms in category 5:

Akerman

Cleary Gottlieb

Cooley

Davis Wright Tremaine

Greenberg Traurig

Mayer Brown

Morgan Lewis

Perkins Coie

Seyfarth Shaw

Troutman Pepper

Top 10 finalists firms in category 4:

Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney PC

Butler Snow LLP

Cravath Swaine and Moore LLP

Dykema Gossett PLLC

Fenwick and West LLP

Fredrikson and Byron PA

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Knobbe Martens

Quarles and Brady LLP

Wachtell Lipton Rosen and Katz

Top LABOR & EMPLOYMENT Firms:

Fisher & Phillips

Jackson Lewis

Jackson Walker

Littler Mendelson PC

Ogletree Deakins

2021 Thomas L. Sager Award National Winner

Award Accepted by: Kathleen O’Sullivan,
Chair, Firmwide Executive Committee

2021 Thomas L. Sager Award National Finalists

2020 Thomas L. Sager Award National Winner

Award Accepted by: Guy Halgren,
Chairman

2020 Thomas L. Sager Award National Finalists

Akin Gump

2019 Thomas L. Sager Award National Winner

Award Accepted by: Guy Halgren,
Chairman

2019 Thomas L. Sager Award National Finalists

View the finalists’ videos presented at the 2019 Diversity Gala awards ceremony.

2018 Thomas L. Sager Award National Winners

Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP and Proskauer Rose LLP tied for the national winner of the 2018 Thomas L. Sager Award.

Award Accepted by: Jami Wintz McKeon,
Chair of the Firm

2018 Thomas L. Sager Award National Finalists

Orrick

View the finalists’ videos presented at the 2018 Diversity Gala awards ceremony.

Past Thomas L. Sager Award Honorees

MCCA is proud to honor and distinguish firms that have demonstrated a sustained commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity and tried something new and succeeded, whether in recruitment and retention, mentoring pipeline programs, or LGBT initiatives. See below a complete list of our past Thomas L. Sager Award honorees.

2021


Perkins Coie LLP
(National Winner)
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer U.S. LLP
(Finalist)
Jackson Lewis P.C.
(Finalist)
Littler Mendelson P.C.
(Finalist)
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati
(Finalist)

2020


Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
(Winner)
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
(Finalist)
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
(Finalist)

2019


Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP
(Winner)
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
(Finalist)
Reed Smith LLP
(Finalist)

2018


Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
(Winner)
Proskauer Rose LLP
(Winner)
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
(Finalist)

2017


Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
(Winner)
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
(Finalist)
Proskauer Rose LLP
(Finalist)

2016


Littler Mendelson P.C.
(Winner)
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
(Finalist)
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP
(Finalist)

2015


Shearman & Sterling LLP
(Northeast)
Arnold & Porter LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Vinson & Elkins LLP
(South)
Ogletree Deakins
(Midwest)
Lim Ruger
(West)

2014


Wong Fleming
(Northeast)
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Jackson Walker LLP
(South)
Littler
(Midwest)
Reed Smith LLP
(West)

2013


Ropes & Gray LLP
(Northeast)
Beveridge & Diamond PC
(Mid-Atlantic)
Hayne and Boone LLP
(South)
Seyfarth Shaw
(Midwest)
Reed Smith LLP
(West)

2012


Pepper Hamilton LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Schiff Hardin LLP
(Midwest)
Ropes & Gray
(Northeast)
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
(South)
Crowell Moring
(West)

2011


Ford & Harrison LLP
(South)
Littler Mendelson P.C.
(Midwest)
Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
(West)
Covington & Burling LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Dewey & LeBoeuf
(Northeast)

2010


Baker Botts LLP
(South)
Sutin, Thayer & Browne
(South)
Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP
(Midwest)
Munger Tolles & Olson LLP
(West)

2009


Vinson & Elkins
(South)
Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione
(Midwest)
Littler Mendelson, P.C.
(West)
WilmerHale
(Mid-Atlantic)
Dewey & LeBoeuf, LLP
(Northeast)

2008


Vinson & Elkins
(South)
Abbott, Simses & Kuchler
(South)
Robin, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP
(Midwest)
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
(West)
Arnold & Porter LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP
(Northeast)

2007


Adorno & Yoss
(South)
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
(South)
Laner, Muchin, Dombrow, Becker, Levin and Tominberg, Ltd.
(Midwest)
Nixon Peabody LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
(West)
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
(Northeast)

2006


Akerman & Senterfitt
(South)
Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP
(Midwest)
Dickstein Shapiro LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
(Western)
Shearman & Sterling LLP
(Northeast)

2005


Adorno & Yoss
(South)
Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP
(Midwest)
Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Reed Smith LLP
(Western)
Arnold & Porter LLP
(Northeast)

2004


Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto
(Northern)
Hanson, Bridgett, Marcus, Vlahos & Rudy, LLP
(Western)
Arnold & Porter LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Faegre & Benson LLP
(Midwest)
Godwin Gruber, LLP
(South)

2003


Steel Hector & Davis LLP
(South)
Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP
(Midwest)
Howrey Simon Arnold &White, LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Arnold & Porter LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Morrison & Foerster LLP
(West)
Arnold & Porter LLP
(Northeast)

2002


Haynes and Boone, LLP
(South)
Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
(Midwest)
Arnold & Porter LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Akin Gump Struass Hauer & Feld LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Lord, Bissell & Brook LLP
(West)
Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto
(Northeast)

2001


Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
(South)
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
(Midwest)
Akin Gump Struass Hauer & Feld LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Morrison & Foerster LLP
(Northeast)

2000


Winston & Strawn LLP
(Midwest)
Foley & Lardner LLP
(Midwest)
Arnold & Porter LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Winston & Strawn LLP
(Northeast)

1999


Kilpatrick & Stockton LLP
(South)
McGuire, Woods, Battle & Boothe LLP
(South)
Holland & Knight LLP
(South)
Sanchez & Daniels LLP
(Midwest)
Sidley Austin Brown &Wood LLP
(Midwest)
Akin Gump Struass Hauer & Feld LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Arnold & Porter LLP
(Mid-Atlantic)
Winston & Strawn LLP
(Northeast)
Davis, Polk & Wardwell
(Northeast)

Thomas Sager
Thomas L. Sager

Sager’s vigilance helped create a growing awareness that the juries, customers, and policy makers that the company dealt with were growing in diversity at a faster pace than its workforce. The disparity impacted the company’s ability to effectively connect with increasingly diffuse segments of the business world and to reach them on intellectual, emotional and personal levels.

“Diversity is more than the right thing to do,” Sager explains, “it’s good for business. Our ability to connect with deal makers, politicians and juries must be better than our competitors.” Consequently, when the DuPont Legal function undertook a major program in 1992 to select preferred providers of legal services, Sager kept diversity considerations at the forefront of the process.

Four criteria established who would become the primary law firms. Each prospective firm was asked to demonstrate a commitment to forging a long-term strategic business alliance; to employing new technologies; to using alternative fee structures; and — equally important — to hiring, retaining and actively involving minorities and women in the firm’s representation of DuPont.

Determined to share with the primary law firms more than just legal matters, Sager emphasized that he wanted service providers to share its corporate values as well. The diversity criterion was integral to the new DuPont Legal Model — and to the entire partnering program. It was not an afterthought, devised simply as an add-on social service. Nor was it to be strictly a matter of increasing numbers.

Diversity in the legal ranks was crucial to maintaining a competitive advantage as a corporate legal department.

Although such initiatives are often accompanied by sharp criticism and compelling financial and political pressures, Sager says the short-term discomfort is offset by the long-term benefits. “Driving diversity ensures that the best-suited, most competent counsel handle all DuPont matters — and ensures that we can successfully contend with a business environment that is increasingly global and decreasingly dominated by the traditional white male hierarchy.”

Instead of imposing mandates and quotas, Sager and the DuPont Legal Model team found ways that DuPont could take an active role in creating solutions.

A critical area in need of improvement was recruitment at the law firms. To enhance the outside firm’s recruitment efforts, DuPont Legal organized a Minority Job Fair in 1994.

Marion Tucker, former director of the ABA’s Commission on Opportunities for Minorities, described the effort as the nation’s first corporate minority legal job fair. The fair presented students with an unmatched opportunity to meet representatives from the primary law firms and be interviewed for both summer and permanent positions.

Corporate Legal Times recognized the creativity of the initiative by honoring DuPont Legal with its 1994 Award for Distinguished Legal Service. Such positive response encouraged the transformation of the DuPont Minority Job Fair from a one-time event into an annual affair that has expanded across the country and today includes additional sponsors. The three job fairs held in 1997 drew over (750) student applications, with at least (12) offers extended to students. Internally, Sager and the Legal function also promote diversity through a variety of efforts. The intellectual property group recently recruited and hired four minority corporate counsel, a success due in large part to the efforts of Hinton Lucas. Lucas previously served DuPont as associate general counsel and now concentrates on diversity in a new position for personnel relations.

Other efforts include an exclusive contract with The Wallace Law Registry to meet DuPont Legal’s employment needs for both temporary and permanent lawyers. As part of the arrangement, DuPont tasked Wallace with developing and maintaining a nationwide minority legal assistant and lawyer database, accessible to DuPont Legal, its primary law firms and other Wallace clients.

In recognition of these and many other efforts, MCCA presented DuPont Legal with the 1997 Diversity 2000 Award. DuPont’s General Counsel, Howard Rudge says “efforts to improve diversity have come from many people throughout the Legal function. Tom and his people have kept this issue moving.

Through his leadership, our outside law firms understand hiring and retaining minorities is a top priority. Just watch our video about improving cultural competency and you can see for yourself that we do more than mouth the words.”

The idea for the video originated with Sager and the Law Firm/Supplier Diversity Task Force. In 15 high-impact minutes it makes the case to DuPont firms to recruit, retain, and promote minority and female attorneys and identifies resources for those who are not certain what to do next.

Sager’s relentless commitment to increasing diversity in the legal profession — despite competing interests and mounting cynicism — is why MCCA created the “Thomas L. Sager Award.” Given to inspire others to move beyond lip-service and to create meaningful solutions, the Sager Award will recognize leaders who support MCCA and the Pioneers of the Profession.

Says Veta Richardson, Former Executive Director of MCCA, “Tom Sager typifies the kind of commitment MCCA wants to encourage — leadership by example and a deep, consistent sense of responsibility for creating results. The award will be given to those who carry on that spirit.” MCCA created the award to help others learn how to overcome the obstacles often encountered in trying to change the status quo.

The MCCA board of directors recognizes that the subject of “corporate counsel of color” often evokes a range of reactions that stall even the best of efforts. At one end of the spectrum, boredom and skepticism can slow progress by creating inertia; at the other end, reactions like hopelessness and resistance are often more debilitating.

“All too often, people excuse themselves from having to make a commitment to working with minorities by saying, ‘We can’t do anything about diversity, we can’t find any candidates!’” Richardson explains. “Recognizing their frustration, this award is one way we can help show them possibilities.

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