July 31, 2019
MCCA Announces Finalists for the 2019 Thomas L. Sager Award
and Charlotte E. Ray Award Honoree
Thomas L. Sager Award Finalists
“We are thrilled to recognize this year’s finalists, for their steadfast commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity,” said Jean Lee, MCCA President and CEO. “This year was the most competitive year yet for the Sager Awards and while we are not close to where we would like to be, we are heartened to see law firms being more reflective and strategic about achieving a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”
The Thomas L. Sager Award recognizes Am Law 200 law firms that have championed diversity, encouraged equity and inclusion across the organization, and have committed to hiring, retaining, and promoting diverse attorneys. Winners are selected based on rigorous review and scoring of the nominees’ efforts across recruitment, retention, professional development, promotion, and other innovative practices that break down barriers to entry for minorities in the legal profession.
The Sager Award was first presented in 1999 and is named after Thomas L. Sager, partner at Ballard Spahr LLP and former DuPont Senior Vice President and General Counsel, who is recognized as a leader in diversity and inclusion and who pioneered innovations focused on promoting minorities and women in the legal profession.
“This award highlights law firm leaders in the industry, who are being brave and making some bold improvements to achieve more,” said Stuart Alderoty, MCCA Board Chair and General Counsel at Ripple. “We congratulate this year’s finalists, for championing a more diverse and inclusive workforce and making efforts to improve recruiting, retention, and promotion of diverse attorneys.” “We are nowhere near perfect but together, we can push each other to do more and better.”
The 2019 Thomas L. Sager Award finalists are: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Reed Smith LLP and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.
Charlotte E. Ray Award Honoree
Charlotte E. Ray was the country’s first black woman lawyer and practiced at a time when women were largely barred from the profession. The award given in her honor will recognize women of color who are blazing a trail for the next generation of women of color and breaking down the barriers to entry in the legal field.
The Charlotte E. Ray award recipient is Michelle C. Ifill, former Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Verizon Corporate Services Group, Inc. Ifill was also Co-Chair of Verizon’s Legal Diversity & Inclusion Council, which was responsible for leading strategic programming and hosting D&I Summits, CLEs and networking events focused on expanding professional opportunities for women and diverse attorneys. Fearless and committed to effectuating change, Ifill aggressively recruited and mentored diverse candidates ever since she was first in a position to make hiring decisions. She has been recognized for her influence and accomplishments throughout her career, including The Counsel of Urban Professionals Catalyst – Change Agents in Law – Award, for her innovation and leadership in the legal profession.
“Undeterred by the lack of women, and especially women of color, in leadership positions, Michelle has blazed forward, advancing diverse attorneys and prioritizing an inclusive work culture,” said Lee. “MCCA is proud to recognize Ifill as our 2019 Charlotte E. Ray award recipient for her courage and leadership and efforts to truly break barriers to entry for women and diverse attorneys.”
The winner of the Sager Award will be announced and honored, together with the Charlotte E. Ray Award recipient, at MCCA’s Diversity Gala on October 16, 2019. The Sager Award finalists will also be recognized for their achievements at MCCA’s annual Gala.
The Minority Corporate Counsel Association was founded in 1997 with the purpose of making the next generation of legal leaders as diverse as the world we live in. From publishing research insights to providing professional development opportunities to offering advisory services, today MCCA is the preeminent voice on diversity and inclusion in the legal industry. MCCA empowers members with the tools needed to disrupt business as usual – and to blaze a path forward for their company, industry and corporate America.