(Memphis, TN/October 23, 2012) The law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, announced the 2012 recipients of the Baker Donelson Diversity Scholarship: Stephanie deJesus, Willie Santana and LaToyia Slay.
Ms. deJesus, a graduate of Vanderbilt University, is in her second year at the South Texas College of Law and will clerk in the Firm's Houston office next summer.
Mr. Santana is in his second year at the University of Tennessee College of Law and will be a summer associate in the Firm's Knoxville office. He is a graduate of the University of Florida.
Ms. Slay, who graduated magna cum laude from The University of the South, is in her second year at Mississippi College School of Law and will be a summer associate in the Firm's Jackson, Mississippi, office.
The three recipients were selected from 185 applicants attending 87 law schools across the country, including Duke University School of Law, Emory University School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, University of Virginia School of Law and Wake Forest University School of Law.
Established in 2008, the Baker Donelson Diversity Scholarship Program awards scholarships annually to diverse law school students who have completed their first year of law school. Each recipient receives a salaried second year summer associate position in one of the Firm's 18 offices. Upon completion of the summer associate position, the Firm also awards each recipient a $10,000 scholarship during the student's third year of law school.
"Once again, this year's Diversity Scholarship Program recipients were selected from an outstanding group of applicants," said Mark A. Baugh, Chair of Baker Donelson's Diversity Committee. "As we reach the fifth year of this program, we are exceptionally proud of the difference these scholarships make in giving minorities and women greater opportunities to pursue a career in the legal profession."
Since the launch of its Diversity Initiative in 2002, Baker Donelson has made significant strides in growing its diverse attorney population, the number of minority shareholders, the recruitment and retention of female attorneys, and the representation of women in leadership positions at the Firm.
Building on that success, Baker Donelson has continued to increase its focus on issues related to its diverse employees. In 2011, the Firm revised its Equal Employment Opportunity policy to include sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status, and revised its bereavement policy to extend to domestic partners and their families. Baker Donelson also held firm-wide training in 2011 on issues relating to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
Baker Donelson's diversity efforts have received numerous recognitions, including being ranked among the top ten law firms in the nation in Vault, Inc.'s 2013 "Best Law Firms for Diversity." The Firm was ranked 9th in the overall Best Law Firms for Diversity list, 6th in Diversity for Minorities, 4th in Diversity for Women and 24th in Diversity for LGBT. Baker Donelson has long been recognized by MultiCultural Law magazine on its annual lists of the "Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity" and the "Top 100 Law Firms for Women." The Firm has also earned kudos from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), achieving a ranking of 85 out of 100 in HRC's 2012 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which provides an in-depth analysis and rating of large U.S. employers and their policies and practices pertinent to LGBT employees.