Kirkland & Ellis has been named a winner of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association's 2001 Thomas L. Sager Award for the Midwest Region. The award was created in honor of Thomas L. Sager, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of DuPont, who has long championed the cause of diversity in the legal profession.
Barry E. Fields, a partner in the firm's Chicago office, accepted the Sager Award for Kirkland & Ellis at the MCCA Diversity Dinner in Chicago on April 12.
"We at Kirkland & Ellis are proud of the Sager award because it represents our success in developing a true marriage of diversity and excellence," Mr. Fields said. "Our lawyers of all backgrounds are the best in the profession, and have generated excellent results for our clients."
The award was created in 1997 in honor of Thomas L. Sager, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of DuPont, a pioneer in promoting diversity in the profession. This year, the MCCA is presenting the award to one law firm in each of four U. S. geographic regions -- the Midwest, Southwest, Northeast, and Mid-East. The award recognizes law firms that have demonstrated a sustained commitment to improve the hiring, retention, and promotion of minority attorneys. The MCCA Board of Directors is composed of Mr. Sager and other counsel from some of the nation's largest corporations. Lloyd M. Johnson Jr., publisher of Corporate Counsel Magazine, is the chairperson of the MCCA's Board.
Mr. Fields said that, while the Firm leadership was proud of the award, "This is, for us, not the end to our effort, but merely the beginning. We did not make a commitment to improve the recruitment and retention of minority attorneys in order to win the Sager award. We made the commitment because it was the right thing to do. We will continue to increase our efforts in this area. "
The Sager Award criteria cites six areas studied by the board:
- Recruitment of diverse counsel
- Retention efforts
- Mentoring programs
- Promotion of minority counsel
- Collaborative efforts with the community, serving diverse populations and outreach efforts with general associations and with minority bar associations
- Innovative practices across all the above areas
"We have searched out and recruited top-flight lawyers, whose abilities are augmented, if anything, by the varying backgrounds they bring to the courtroom, to the corporate sphere, and to the extraordinary relationships they have built with their clients," Mr. Fields said. Our clients and the public will continue to see the firm's commitment to creating a more inclusive legal profession and working environment."
Sears Roebuck & Co. and Ford Motor Co. also received MCCA honors for their success in creating and maintaining diverse corporate legal departments.
In addition to winning the Sager award, five of our minority attorneys are profiled in the Platinum Circle on MCCA's Web site.