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Advancing Diversity & Inclusion within the Firm and our Profession

Nelson Mullins is committed to achieving and maintaining diversity in all aspects of Firm life.

  • Our Diversity & Inclusion Commitment details the principles that we embrace.
  • Nelson Mullins Diversity & Inclusion Committee – provides leadership for the pursuit of key initiatives and for achieving Firm diversity and inclusion goals.
     
Diversity Awards

High Potentials Program

Diversity Publication Recognizes Nelson Mullins’ High Potentials Program for Up and Coming Women Attorneys with Award of Excellence

Profiles in Diversity Journal selected a Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP initiative as an Award of Excellence winner in its 14th Annual Innovations in Diversity Awards, which honors corporations, organizations, and institutions that have developed innovative solutions in workforce diversity and inclusion. The Firm is one of three law firms to be recognized among the award winners.

The publication selected the Firm’s High Potentials Program, a unique two-year program involving a select group of women non-equity partners identified by firm leadership for both their legal skills and their high potential for business development. The women work closely with dedicated senior “rainmaker” sponsors, an internal marketing coach,  and an external executive leadership coach to affirm their personal brands and interaction styles, raise their profiles internally and externally, develop client opportunities, and expand leadership capabilities.

“One of our core values is a steadfast commitment to inclusive excellence,” said Managing Partner James K. Lehman. “This program creates a path for professional development and growth for our women attorneys and in turn results in better access to new client opportunities. We are thankful for this recognition and proud of this program.” 

“The impact of the High Potentials Program on my career and leadership development has been profound,” said Columbia Office Managing Partner and inaugural member of the program, Sally Caver.  “It not only taught me new skills I could employ in my business relationships, but it also gave me the confidence and support I needed to take charge of my career and make some changes in my practice, which have had great results for me and the firm.”
 
The publication shares innovations to help others progress and bring change in the area of human equity, according to the publisher. The quarterly magazine focuses on diversity/inclusion in business, government, nonprofit, higher education, and military settings and on senior leadership, best practices, workforce diversity and inclusion strategies, and recognition of employee contribution. Click here for more on the publication. (Fall 2017 edition, page 32).

M&A Externship

Nelson Mullins’ M&A Externship Program Named as Finalist for Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards


Chambers & Partners named Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP’s M&A Externship Program as a finalist for its Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards USA 2019, which celebrate firms and individuals who are furthering the advancement of diversity and inclusion in the United States.

Chambers chose the firm’s M&A Externship Program as a finalist for its Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year, an award that recognizes a company’s dedication to reaching out to their local or global community and affecting change to increase the representation of diverse candidates in the legal profession.

Established in January 2018, the Nelson Mullins M&A Externship Program provides 2L and 3L students from the University of Georgia School of Law with work experience in mergers and acquisitions for academic credit. During the fall and spring semesters, externs work side by side with Atlanta attorneys from Nelson Mullins’ Corporate Group and gain exposure to the entire M&A process as they become involved in a variety of matters related to a transaction. Externs must have an expressed interest in the advancement of under-represented lawyers in the M&A field. To date, the program has hosted three externs, two of whom are minorities.

“I’m encouraged that the M&A Externship has inspired the students we’ve worked with to consider a career in M&A,” said Nelson Mullins M&A Partner Amanda Norcross, who chairs the M&A Externship and launched the program with M&A Partner Rhys T. Wilson and University of Georgia Law School Professor Carol Morgan.

Chambers Diversity & Inclusion aims to promote the advancement of inclusion across the global legal profession through research, training, workshops, tourism and awards. Its awards represent the culmination of Chambers’ research and celebrate firms and individuals who are furthering the advancement of diversity and inclusion in the United States. Learn more.

Firm Recognizes Attorneys for Diversity and Inclusion Contributions 

To ensure increased diversity and inclusion in the firm and in the legal profession, the Firm has implemented several initiatives to guide its diversity and inclusion goals. The Firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee (established as a standing committee in 2005) provides leadership for the pursuit of key initiatives. The Committee recognizes those attorneys who have demonstrated a special commitment to diversity and inclusion through the award of annual honors:

The Sheryl Ortmann Diversity Award is bestowed on an attorney making significant achievements in promoting diversity in the firm and the legal profession. The award is named after the Firm’s first female partner. This year’s award was presented to Baltimore partner Deborah St. Lawrence Thompson for her efforts to teach, provide opportunities for, and champion women and diverse lawyers. Deborah was noted for her assimilation of litigation teams from an array of diverse backgrounds, ethnic groups, ages, and genders in order to assess the facts of a case from a variety of points of view.

The Sara Turnipseed “Women on the Go” Award recognizes contributions by attorneys and policy advisors within the Firm who actively promote the success of women in the firm and the legal profession. It honors the late Nelson Mullins partner Sara Turnipseed and her tireless commitment to issues of gender equity and the promotion of opportunities for women in the firm and the legal profession. This year’s award was presented to Atlanta partner Amanda Norcross for providing professional and business development opportunities for female attorneys. Amanda also created a diversity externship in the mergers and acquisitions group in collaboration with the University of Georgia School of Law whereby diverse students spend a semester at the Firm and receive law school credit for their experience.

A new recognition, the Early Start Award, recognizes outstanding efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession early in a career. The first recipient is Columbia associate Donna Tillis, who chairs the Recruiting Committee’s Diversity Subcommittee for the Columbia office. Donna maintains relationships with professors at the University of South Carolina Law School to help recruit diverse candidates. She also is a liaison to the Black Law Students Association at the school.

Leadership Council on Legal Diversity

Nelson Mullins is a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization of more than 200 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners whose mission is to create a truly diverse U.S. legal profession.  In addition, we participate in the LCLD's Fellows program and in LCLD's 1L Scholars Program.

Lean In

Nelson Mullins is a platform partner for Lean In, a global community committed to offering women the encouragement and support to “lean in” to their ambitions. Lean In principles are based on the book "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead," authored by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and focuses on core professional issues faced by women. Lean In promotes partnerships to bring about organizational change to achieve greater diversity in leadership roles.

To kick off the Firm's "Lean In" commitment, the ALLI ("All Leaning In") Circle program (modeled on "Lean In Circles") was established. Comprised of small cross-office discussion groups which held regular virtual meetings,  ALLI Circles included attorneys and policy advisors from a cross-section of our offices as well as Executive Committee members, office managing partners, team leaders, and practice leaders. The purpose of our ALLI Circles was to encourage identification of, and honest conversation about, real and perceived obstacles and solutions with respect to hiring, retention, leadership development, and promotion of female and minority professionals.

​​​The Nelson Mullins ALLI Circles were featured in an article published in the January/February 2015 edition of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association's, Diversity & the Bar magazine.

Pipeline Initiatives & Nelson Mullins Diversity Scholarship

The Firm sponsors and participates in several minority recruitment initiatives.

Nelson Mullins Diversity Scholarship Program ​​​​​- is open to 2L law students and is primarily designed to increase the number of diverse law students interested in summer and long-term employment with Nelson Mullins.  Awardees will receive a $10,000 scholarship and a salaried summer associate position at one of the Firm’s offices. The selection process coincides with Nelson Mullins’ regular summer associate recruiting process.

The Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP Scholarship Fund, a part of the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) General Scholarship Endowment – is supported by contributions from the Firm. The fund is the first MCLE scholarship fund honoring a law firm. It benefits lawyers who serve the public interest, including legal services staff attorneys, private practitioners who accept pro bono cases, and other deserving lawyers who, without financial assistance, would not be able to attend MCLE programs.

Nelson Mullins partners with Claflin University (a HBCU in Orangeburg, SC) for pre-law scholarships.

Since 2012, Nelson Mullins has partnered with clients and high schools in Columbia, South Carolina, to deliver Street Law diversity pipeline programs.

The Firm participates in the Atlanta Bar Association’s Minority Clerkship Program, which places minority first-year students from Georgia law schools with several large law firms in the Atlanta area.

In addition, the Firm has collaborated with clients and a local chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel to support Street Law Inc.’s legal diversity pipeline program initiatives, working with local high schools to enhance the awareness of opportunities within the legal profession and culminating with a hosted workshop at our office. We have also sponsored NJ LEEP’s Diversity Gala (New Jersey Law and Education Empowerment- a college access and success program).

Mentoring | High Potential Program

The Firm supports a dedicated business development program with the purpose of helping women attorneys plot their careers, learn how to generate business from internal and external sources, and grow leadership competencies. This program provides career pathway guidance to participants who work with designated partner-sponsors and both internal and external executive coaches.

Diversity Publication Recognizes Nelson Mullins’ High Potentials Program with Award of Excellence

Women On The Go (WOGO)

Nelson Mullins supports active participation in women's affinity groups in each of its offices. These groups work to enhance the recruitment and retention of female attorneys, promote women’s leadership both within and outside of the Firm, and work to foster a better understanding among all of the Firm's attorneys of the unique issues facing women professionals.

In the Profession

Nelson Mullins attorneys dedicate significant efforts associated with diversity and inclusion goals in outside Firm professional activities, including support of minority law student scholarship programs, and providing leadership in ABA, state and minority bar diversity efforts.

 

Litigating While Female

How can women litigators find their stride in a profession that's not historically known for its diversity? Nekia Hackworth Jones, partner and seasoned litigator, shares her insights.

Equity for Women Lawyers

Partner Nina Gupta was a member of the first class of Nelson Mullins' High Potentials Program, which promotes a diverse and inclusive Firm life by prioritizing personal and professional development for women lawyers.

Professional and Personal Growth

Partner Brandee Kowalzyk shares how her experience as one of the first members of the Firm's High Potentials Program helped her master her leadership and communication styles in interactions with colleagues and clients.

Inclusion for Educators

Marquetta Bryan, of counsel in the Firm's Schools & Universities Practice Group, explains how Nelson Mullins can help school districts accommodate employees with disabilities under the ADA.

Diversity & Inclusion

Advancing Diversity & Inclusion within the Firm and our Profession

Nelson Mullins is committed to achieving and maintaining diversity in all aspects of Firm life.

  • Our Diversity & Inclusion Commitment details the principles that we embrace.
  • Nelson Mullins Diversity & Inclusion Committee – provides leadership for the pursuit of key initiatives and for achieving Firm diversity and inclusion goals.
     
Diversity Awards

High Potentials Program

Diversity Publication Recognizes Nelson Mullins’ High Potentials Program for Up and Coming Women Attorneys with Award of Excellence

Profiles in Diversity Journal selected a Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP initiative as an Award of Excellence winner in its 14th Annual Innovations in Diversity Awards, which honors corporations, organizations, and institutions that have developed innovative solutions in workforce diversity and inclusion. The Firm is one of three law firms to be recognized among the award winners.

The publication selected the Firm’s High Potentials Program, a unique two-year program involving a select group of women non-equity partners identified by firm leadership for both their legal skills and their high potential for business development. The women work closely with dedicated senior “rainmaker” sponsors, an internal marketing coach,  and an external executive leadership coach to affirm their personal brands and interaction styles, raise their profiles internally and externally, develop client opportunities, and expand leadership capabilities.

“One of our core values is a steadfast commitment to inclusive excellence,” said Managing Partner James K. Lehman. “This program creates a path for professional development and growth for our women attorneys and in turn results in better access to new client opportunities. We are thankful for this recognition and proud of this program.” 

“The impact of the High Potentials Program on my career and leadership development has been profound,” said Columbia Office Managing Partner and inaugural member of the program, Sally Caver.  “It not only taught me new skills I could employ in my business relationships, but it also gave me the confidence and support I needed to take charge of my career and make some changes in my practice, which have had great results for me and the firm.”
 
The publication shares innovations to help others progress and bring change in the area of human equity, according to the publisher. The quarterly magazine focuses on diversity/inclusion in business, government, nonprofit, higher education, and military settings and on senior leadership, best practices, workforce diversity and inclusion strategies, and recognition of employee contribution. Click here for more on the publication. (Fall 2017 edition, page 32).

M&A Externship

Nelson Mullins’ M&A Externship Program Named as Finalist for Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards


Chambers & Partners named Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP’s M&A Externship Program as a finalist for its Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards USA 2019, which celebrate firms and individuals who are furthering the advancement of diversity and inclusion in the United States.

Chambers chose the firm’s M&A Externship Program as a finalist for its Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year, an award that recognizes a company’s dedication to reaching out to their local or global community and affecting change to increase the representation of diverse candidates in the legal profession.

Established in January 2018, the Nelson Mullins M&A Externship Program provides 2L and 3L students from the University of Georgia School of Law with work experience in mergers and acquisitions for academic credit. During the fall and spring semesters, externs work side by side with Atlanta attorneys from Nelson Mullins’ Corporate Group and gain exposure to the entire M&A process as they become involved in a variety of matters related to a transaction. Externs must have an expressed interest in the advancement of under-represented lawyers in the M&A field. To date, the program has hosted three externs, two of whom are minorities.

“I’m encouraged that the M&A Externship has inspired the students we’ve worked with to consider a career in M&A,” said Nelson Mullins M&A Partner Amanda Norcross, who chairs the M&A Externship and launched the program with M&A Partner Rhys T. Wilson and University of Georgia Law School Professor Carol Morgan.

Chambers Diversity & Inclusion aims to promote the advancement of inclusion across the global legal profession through research, training, workshops, tourism and awards. Its awards represent the culmination of Chambers’ research and celebrate firms and individuals who are furthering the advancement of diversity and inclusion in the United States. Learn more.

Firm Recognizes Attorneys for Diversity and Inclusion Contributions 

To ensure increased diversity and inclusion in the firm and in the legal profession, the Firm has implemented several initiatives to guide its diversity and inclusion goals. The Firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee (established as a standing committee in 2005) provides leadership for the pursuit of key initiatives. The Committee recognizes those attorneys who have demonstrated a special commitment to diversity and inclusion through the award of annual honors:

The Sheryl Ortmann Diversity Award is bestowed on an attorney making significant achievements in promoting diversity in the firm and the legal profession. The award is named after the Firm’s first female partner. This year’s award was presented to Baltimore partner Deborah St. Lawrence Thompson for her efforts to teach, provide opportunities for, and champion women and diverse lawyers. Deborah was noted for her assimilation of litigation teams from an array of diverse backgrounds, ethnic groups, ages, and genders in order to assess the facts of a case from a variety of points of view.

The Sara Turnipseed “Women on the Go” Award recognizes contributions by attorneys and policy advisors within the Firm who actively promote the success of women in the firm and the legal profession. It honors the late Nelson Mullins partner Sara Turnipseed and her tireless commitment to issues of gender equity and the promotion of opportunities for women in the firm and the legal profession. This year’s award was presented to Atlanta partner Amanda Norcross for providing professional and business development opportunities for female attorneys. Amanda also created a diversity externship in the mergers and acquisitions group in collaboration with the University of Georgia School of Law whereby diverse students spend a semester at the Firm and receive law school credit for their experience.

A new recognition, the Early Start Award, recognizes outstanding efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession early in a career. The first recipient is Columbia associate Donna Tillis, who chairs the Recruiting Committee’s Diversity Subcommittee for the Columbia office. Donna maintains relationships with professors at the University of South Carolina Law School to help recruit diverse candidates. She also is a liaison to the Black Law Students Association at the school.

Leadership Council on Legal Diversity

Nelson Mullins is a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization of more than 200 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners whose mission is to create a truly diverse U.S. legal profession.  In addition, we participate in the LCLD's Fellows program and in LCLD's 1L Scholars Program.

Lean In

Nelson Mullins is a platform partner for Lean In, a global community committed to offering women the encouragement and support to “lean in” to their ambitions. Lean In principles are based on the book "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead," authored by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and focuses on core professional issues faced by women. Lean In promotes partnerships to bring about organizational change to achieve greater diversity in leadership roles.

To kick off the Firm's "Lean In" commitment, the ALLI ("All Leaning In") Circle program (modeled on "Lean In Circles") was established. Comprised of small cross-office discussion groups which held regular virtual meetings,  ALLI Circles included attorneys and policy advisors from a cross-section of our offices as well as Executive Committee members, office managing partners, team leaders, and practice leaders. The purpose of our ALLI Circles was to encourage identification of, and honest conversation about, real and perceived obstacles and solutions with respect to hiring, retention, leadership development, and promotion of female and minority professionals.

​​​The Nelson Mullins ALLI Circles were featured in an article published in the January/February 2015 edition of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association's, Diversity & the Bar magazine.

Pipeline Initiatives & Nelson Mullins Diversity Scholarship

The Firm sponsors and participates in several minority recruitment initiatives.

Nelson Mullins Diversity Scholarship Program ​​​​​- is open to 2L law students and is primarily designed to increase the number of diverse law students interested in summer and long-term employment with Nelson Mullins.  Awardees will receive a $10,000 scholarship and a salaried summer associate position at one of the Firm’s offices. The selection process coincides with Nelson Mullins’ regular summer associate recruiting process.

The Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP Scholarship Fund, a part of the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) General Scholarship Endowment – is supported by contributions from the Firm. The fund is the first MCLE scholarship fund honoring a law firm. It benefits lawyers who serve the public interest, including legal services staff attorneys, private practitioners who accept pro bono cases, and other deserving lawyers who, without financial assistance, would not be able to attend MCLE programs.

Nelson Mullins partners with Claflin University (a HBCU in Orangeburg, SC) for pre-law scholarships.

Since 2012, Nelson Mullins has partnered with clients and high schools in Columbia, South Carolina, to deliver Street Law diversity pipeline programs.

The Firm participates in the Atlanta Bar Association’s Minority Clerkship Program, which places minority first-year students from Georgia law schools with several large law firms in the Atlanta area.

In addition, the Firm has collaborated with clients and a local chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel to support Street Law Inc.’s legal diversity pipeline program initiatives, working with local high schools to enhance the awareness of opportunities within the legal profession and culminating with a hosted workshop at our office. We have also sponsored NJ LEEP’s Diversity Gala (New Jersey Law and Education Empowerment- a college access and success program).

Mentoring | High Potential Program

The Firm supports a dedicated business development program with the purpose of helping women attorneys plot their careers, learn how to generate business from internal and external sources, and grow leadership competencies. This program provides career pathway guidance to participants who work with designated partner-sponsors and both internal and external executive coaches.

Diversity Publication Recognizes Nelson Mullins’ High Potentials Program with Award of Excellence

Women On The Go (WOGO)

Nelson Mullins supports active participation in women's affinity groups in each of its offices. These groups work to enhance the recruitment and retention of female attorneys, promote women’s leadership both within and outside of the Firm, and work to foster a better understanding among all of the Firm's attorneys of the unique issues facing women professionals.

In the Profession

Nelson Mullins attorneys dedicate significant efforts associated with diversity and inclusion goals in outside Firm professional activities, including support of minority law student scholarship programs, and providing leadership in ABA, state and minority bar diversity efforts.

 

Litigating While Female

How can women litigators find their stride in a profession that's not historically known for its diversity? Nekia Hackworth Jones, partner and seasoned litigator, shares her insights.

Equity for Women Lawyers

Partner Nina Gupta was a member of the first class of Nelson Mullins' High Potentials Program, which promotes a diverse and inclusive Firm life by prioritizing personal and professional development for women lawyers.

Professional and Personal Growth

Partner Brandee Kowalzyk shares how her experience as one of the first members of the Firm's High Potentials Program helped her master her leadership and communication styles in interactions with colleagues and clients.

Inclusion for Educators

Marquetta Bryan, of counsel in the Firm's Schools & Universities Practice Group, explains how Nelson Mullins can help school districts accommodate employees with disabilities under the ADA.

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