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The Most Influential Minority Lawyers

The National Law Journal begins this week's profile of the 50 most influential minority lawyers in the United States with this sobering reminder: Minority lawyers make up just 5.4 percent of partners at U.S. law firms. For minority women, the number is just 1.7 percent. That makes the accomplishments of these 50 all the more noteworthy. NLJ editors selected them based on "an avalanche" of reader nominations of candidates "who have had a national impact in their legal fields and beyond during the past five years."

Some on the list are familiar names within and without the legal profession: former American Bar Association President Dennis Archer of Dickinson Wright in Detroit, Yale Law Prof. Stephen L. Carter, former Solicitor General Drew S. Days III of Morrison & Foerster, Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley Jr., former presidential adviser Vernon Jordan of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk of Vinson & Elkins in Dallas, IP litigator and co-chair of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr William F. Lee, high-profile defense lawyer William "Billy" Martin of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, Harvard Law Prof. Charles J. Ogletree Jr., and high-stakes litigator Theodore V. Wells Jr. of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

But the list also includes many who are, perhaps, less well known, but no doubt equally deserving of recognition. They include Paulette Brown of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, who co-authored the landmark 2006 report, Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms; R. Ted Cruz of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, the first Hispanic to be Texas solicitor general and author of more than 70 Supreme Court briefs; John W. Daniels of Quarles & Brady, one of the first African-Americans to lead a top U.S. firm; Keith M. Harper of Kilpatrick Stockton, a Cherokee who heads his firm's Native American affairs practice group; Patricia Menendez-Cambo, co-chair of Greenberg Traurig's global practice group; General Mills GC Roderick A. Palmore, who, as GC at Sara Lee, spearheaded the Call to Action urging corporate law firms to diversify; and Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU.

Let me preempt my colleague Carolyn Elefant by noting that the list includes not a single solo or small-firm lawyer. Are others missing from this list who should be included? What are your thoughts?

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 27, 2008 at 11:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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