Get Ready for 40 Under 40!


On Wednesday, July 27, 2022, during the NBA's 97th Annual Convention's Black-Tie Awards Gala in Memphis, Tennessee, 40 Under 40 will announce its award recipients. You have the opportunity to decide which of the five nominees should be honored as the "Best in Class" based on their respective demonstrations of EXCELLENCE in the five areas listed below. Our nominations are among some of the nation's most outstanding young lawyers. 

  • Advocacy
  • Leadership 
  • Service 
  • Activism 
  • Innovation 

Please review the professional histories of each of the 40 recipients presented in this correspondence and cast your vote for the five (5) candidates whose current body of work, in your opinion, separates them from the rest and qualifies them for these "Best in Class" awards.

Aréal Allen-Stewart 

Aréal Allen-Stewart is Director, Compliance and Regulatory Counsel, with Ross Stores, Inc. Her practice spans across a broad range of topics impacting the retail industry including, regulatory compliance, litigation, contracts, data privacy, and global matters. Aréal is a rising leader responsible for numerous program enhancements. Prior to Ross, Aréal was Vice President, Global Credit Cards Compliance, at Citibank.

Aréal serves as the General Counsel to the Metropolitan Black Bar Association and as a Director on the Friends of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association board. She is committed to the development and progression of Black attorneys. 

In addition to her bar leadership, she has served on the steering committee of the Apollo Young Patrons, the Junior League of Brooklyn, is an Alvin Ailey Young Patron, and has served as volunteer with Culture for One, an organization providing arts education and exposure to youth in foster care. Aréal is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and she also provides pro-bono services to small business owners in her neighborhood.

Aréal received her J.D. from New York Law School, where she actively serves on the Alumni Association Board. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Connecticut where she minored in African American Studies and Business. Aréal is a certified Pilates instructor and teaches classes in her Brooklyn, NY neighborhood. 


Fallon DePina Banks 

Fallon DePina Banks is deputy general counsel with UnitedHealth Group (UHG), the largest healthcare company in the world. Fallon’s practice sits at the thrilling junction between health and technological innovation. She advises on complex privacy and cybersecurity matters to both mature and nascent UHG businesses; develops and maintains data governance processes; and provides privacy and data use counsel in support of research & development, digital health products, clinical research programs, and other insurtech innovations. Prior to joining UHG, she served as privacy counsel at Aetna and as an associate at a leading New England law firm.

Fallon’s passions include diversifying the legal profession, racial justice, and community service. She serves as chair of the UHG legal department’s Culture, Inclusion, and Diversity Council. She mentors underrepresented professionals desiring to enter the privacy and cybersecurity field, including members of the Black Girls in Cyber organization. She is a former president of the George W. Crawford Black Bar Association, a National Bar Association chapter, and spearheaded the establishment of the George W. Crawford Black Bar Association Endowment at the University of Connecticut School of Law. She provides pro bono legal counsel to the Promise of Justice Initiative, fighting to overturn unconstitutional nonunanimous jury verdicts. She is also an active member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., where she leads community service initiatives and culturally affirming activities for Black youth. 

Fallon earned a B.A., magna cum laude, from Northeastern University, and holds a J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law. In addition to this great honor, she is an International Association of Privacy Professionals Fellow of Information Privacy; a 2021 Hartford Business Journal 40 Under Forty honoree; a 2017 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellow; and a 2013 Lawyers of Color Hot List honoree.  

Chambord Benton-Hayes 

Chambord Benton-Hayes is a principal with Benton Employment Law. As a plaintiff’s employment and trial attorney, she represents CEOs, and C-suite executives in severance agreements, wrongful termination, and high-stakes litigation. She fights for clients enduring racial discrimination, sexual harassment, LGTBQ+ discrimination, and disabled individuals seeking accommodations. She trains thousands of executives, managers, doctors, attorneys, and employees on ADA compliance, anti-harassment, microaggressions, and employment law issues.

A San Francisco native, Chambord’s passion for the law was ignited at age eleven when she met famed attorney Johnnie Cochran. Cochran encouraged her to pursue a legal career as a litigator, and thereafter, Chambord worked towards this goal, graduating from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law at the age of twenty-four.

Before launching Benton Employment Law, Chambord practiced law in the San Francisco office of an international law firm. During the Pandemic, she left “Big Law” and started representing individuals. Her ten years of experience defending some of the world’s largest corporations and advising C-suite leadership on litigation avoidance contributed to her astute insight into workplace dynamics.

She is the immediate past President of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Northern California (2019 – 2021). She spearheaded collaborations with organizations across the U.S. on issues important to Black women including thriving during the pandemic, DEI, mental health, maternal health, physical fitness, and police brutality. She also focused on the advancement of students from law school to jobs at firms, in-house, and pathways to the bench.

Chambord is recognized as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers (an honor awarded to only 2.5% of attorneys under the age of 40), and “Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch” (awarded for outstanding professional excellence in private practice). Super Lawyers Magazine will feature her life and career in an upcoming July 2022 article.  

Lillian M. Blackshear  

Lillian Blackshear is a partner in the Nashville office of Bass, Berry & Sims PLC—a full-service law firm with offices in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Washington D.C. Exclusively focused on public finance, Lillian has represented clients in public finance transactions totaling more than $10 billion since 2010. Her clients include an array of governmental entities and banks, and her deals include high-profile projects, such as stadiums for major league sports franchises. She recently represented investment bank clients in the underwriting of the largest general obligation bond deal ever sold by the State of Tennessee. 

In 2021, Lillian was elected by the partnership of Bass, Berry & Sims PLC to serve on the firm’s Executive Committee. Prior to her election to the Executive Committee, she served as Chair of the firm’s African-American Affinity group.


Additionally, Lillian serves as a commissioner on the Metropolitan Nashville Planning Commission, where she serves in an advisory role to the Metropolitan Nashville Council on land policy matters. She has also represented several nonprofit and indigent clients on a pro bono basis. She is a founding board member and Secretary for the Tennessee Chapter of Women in Public Finance.

Lillian was named to the Nashville Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” List in 2018 and was named to the Nashville Post’s “In Charge” List for the Legal Sector in 2022. She was also named a 2022 Fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity.


Lillian graduated summa cum laude from both Spelman College and the University of Tennessee College of Law. She has been published by both the Tennessee Law Review and Transactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law.

Lillian is a proud supporter of her alma mater, Spelman, where she started an annual scholarship named after her mother.


Shahria H. Boston 

Shahria H. Boston, Esq. is the Principal of the Law Office of Shahria H. Boston, a small law firm specializing in real estate conveyancing and contracts and landlord-tenant litigation.


Since law school, Attorney Boston has been actively involved in the legal community, serving in several impactful, leadership roles. Attorney Boston has a passion for homeownership and housing issues, especially as they affect minority communities. She volunteers and teaches first-time home buyers and landlord-tenant courses for various non-profit corporations in Massachusetts.

Attorney Boston has demonstrated a commitment to assisting the underserved and underprivileged who cannot advocate for themselves and/or are not in a position to afford adequate representation. She is also an active volunteer for the Attorney for the Day Program in the Housing Courts and co-led the expansion of the Attorney for the Day program into other counties in Massachusetts. In addition, Attorney Boston assists the Housing Court with very difficult Guardian Ad Litem appointments and cases involving elders and individuals with physical and mental health disabilities facing eviction. In 2021, Attorney Boston assisted over 15 landlords and tenants pro bono with various housing matters.

Attorney Boston also serves on the Board of Directors for South Coastal Counties Legal Services and the Justice Center of Southeast Massachusetts which provides pro bono legal services to disadvantaged individuals. Attorney Boston has received numerous awards and accolades including, but not limited to, Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly Top Women in the Law, First Justices’ Award for Pro Bono Publico Excellence, The National Black Attorneys Top 100 Lawyers, and the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys Top 10 Under 40. Attorney Boston received her Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Seton Hall University in 2004 and received her Juris Doctor from Northeastern University School of Law in 2007. 


Alana C. Brown 

Alana C. Brown is the executive director of The Safe Sisters Circle. Ms. Brown is an award-winning attorney who has been fighting injustice for Black women survivors of domestic and sexual violence for the last ten years. Her expertise in the law has helped create a pathway for Black women survivors to receive free legal aid services to help facilitate their healing journey. 

In 2018 to further this mission, Ms. Brown started The Safe Sisters Circle to provide culturally specific, trauma-informed, and holistic services for Black women survivors of sexual and domestic violence living primarily in the underserved, majority Black communities of Washington, DC’s Wards 7 and 8. Ms. Brown currently serves as its Founder and Executive Director.


Ms. Brown’s work has been recognized by the larger Washington, DC community in which she received the 2020 Tip the Scales of Justice Award presented by DVLEAP for making an impact in the gender-based violence field in Washington, DC. Additionally, Ms. Brown has spoken locally, and nationally to various media outlets including the Washington Post regarding the systemic issues that Black women survivors of domestic and sexual violence experience. Ms. Brown has also published an article with the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and spoken on panels regarding the intersection and cultural implications of the domestic and sexual violence of Black women and reproductive justice.


In a season where Black women survivors of domestic and sexual violence are disproportionately impacted by access to culturally specific legal aid, Ms. Brown has emerged as a drum major for justice in making sure that the most vulnerable citizens in Washington, DC receive culturally responsive legal services under the law. Ms. Brown received her Bachelor of Arts from New York University and her Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center.

Amanda A. Butler-Jones  

Amanda Butler-Jones is a counsel attorney with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. An emerging firm leader, Amanda serves on Akin Gump’s Washington D.C. office’s hiring and pro bono committees, as co-vice chair of the Black Firmwide Resource Group (FRG), and on the firm’s associates and counsel committee.


As co-vice chair of Akin Gump’s Black FRG—an affinity group for the firm’s Black lawyers and staff—Amanda is an advocate for diverse junior lawyers. She leads the group’s efforts to facilitate programs and initiatives focused on the recruitment, retention, and professional development of Black lawyers and fostering an inclusive workplace throughout the firm. Further, Amanda is a member of the firm’s marquee investment management practice, regularly playing critical roles in highly sensitive and complex investment fund engagements for top firm clients. She has also been a key player in growing the practice in Washington, D.C., and expanding the firm’s representation of premium institutional investors and secondary clients.

Beyond her leadership roles and track record of success for funds clients, Amanda is deeply passionate about her commitment to pro bono efforts. Throughout her career, she has partnered with several organizations to address some of the nation’s most vital issues—from assisting immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence to establishing an alliance program with law firms to amplify the voices of communities and individuals oppressed by racism and to promote racial equity in the law. In recognition of these efforts, Amanda was honored last year as Akin Gump’s Pro Bono Counsel of the Year.

Amanda is a graduate of Howard University Law School, where she was elected class president of her graduating class and served as editor-in-chief of the Human Rights and Globalization Law Review. She currently serves as a teaching assistant in the school’s moot court program.  

Jehan “J” Carter  

Jehan “J.” Carter, Esq. is a principal attorney with the Carter Law Group and an adjunct with Pepperdine Caruso School of Law. Carter is a graduate of the University of Virginia with two B.A. degrees in Government and Spanish and received her Juris Doctor degree and Patent Law Certificate from New York Law School. In law school, Carter clerked for the Honorable Debra James at the New York Supreme Court. 

She has over 5 years of experience in areas of intellectual property, entertainment, business, and estate law with the Carter Law Group. In addition to her legal practice, she has worked in counsel at DreamWorks (formerly Classic Media) and Universal Music Group. Carter currently teaches Intellectual Property courses at Pepperdine and offers a nationwide remote law school internship program for students interested in entertainment and intellectual property. Previous alumni of her program have been students from an array of schools from Harvard to Howard.

She has been featured in many publications including TMZ, Yahoo Finance, and Forbes for her legal work and entrepreneurship including her representation of the Ahmaud Arbery estate overseeing all of his intellectual property rights and assets. In 2020, she was sworn into the Supreme Court Attorney Bar as the only Black attorney in her class and featured in Forbes for her criminal justice reform work assisting protesters nationwide. 

In 2021, she became the creator and host of the first-ever Black Lawyers Podcast that features a nationwide free directory of Black lawyers and a bar/book scholarship for Black law students. She is also the co-founder of Lawyer Bae LLC, the largest growing legal network that promotes diversity in the legal profession and highlights the largest number of women and minorities in their nationwide lawyer directory. 

Britt-Marie Cole-Johnson  

Britt-Marie K. Cole-Johnson is a partner with Robinson & Cole LLP. She is a member of the firm’s Labor + Employment Group and was elected to the Managing Committee. Britt-Marie offers insightful, forward-thinking, and practical counsel is well-versed in the key responsibilities of directors, and supports clients’ boards of directors seeking guidance on governance, risk, and strategy. As a partner in an Am Law 200 firm, she counsels companies, from startups to the Fortune 500, in many areas of employment law, including workplace investigations, DEI, and separations. Clients are impressed, with one reporting: “She is a very careful, thorough attorney and a great strategist and technician. You really get the sense that she sees the big picture, and she's very impressive in that.”

Britt-Marie was appointed by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont to serve on the board of the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority and elected to the Board of UConn Health. She was chosen as an honoree for The 100 Women of Color and selected by the Connecticut Law Tribune as a Distinguished Leader.

Britt-Marie has been ranked in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business in the State of Connecticut in the area of Labor & Employment since 2019 and has been on the Connecticut Super Lawyers list since 2020 after being recognized as a Rising Star from 2013 to 2018.


Britt-Marie is a Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation and a member of the Board and a faculty member of the Association of Workplace Investigators. She serves on the Board of Directors of Oak Hill and Teach for America – Connecticut and is an Ambassador of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. She teaches employment law to graduate students at the University of Connecticut School of Business and has served on the Board of Directors of YWCA Hartford Region.  

Aubrey B. Coleman II   

Aubrey B. Coleman II is a Program Manager with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative. In this role, Aubrey leads efforts to close the digital divide by partnering with internet service providers to deliver affordable broadband internet access to unserved Black communities across the United States. Aubrey is also leading efforts to close the rural digital divide by working with internet service providers to deliver broadband internet access to more than 3 million previously unserved citizens in rural America.


Prior to joining Microsoft, Aubrey worked at T-Mobile where he developed a public policy program that advocated for broadband internet infrastructure expansion throughout the United States. Aubrey also worked at Alaska Airlines in the Airport Affairs group where he oversaw the airline’s legal and real estate interest throughout North and Latin America.

When Aubrey isn’t at work, he is leading a cohort charged with developing a community-run grocery store in South Dallas, Texas – a community struggling with food insecurity. Aubrey also volunteers as a Voter Protection Attorney with the Texas Democratic Party’s Election Protection initiative which aims to protect the rights of citizens casting ballots in Texas elections.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Aubrey earned his Bachelor of Science in Corporate Finance and Macroeconomic Monetary Policy from the University of Alabama. Aubrey later returned to the University of Alabama where he earned his Juris Doctorate and Master of Science in Civil Engineering and was recognized as the 2014 Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year. Aubrey has received numerous professional awards including the American Bar Association’s Jefferson B. Fordham Up and Comer Award and the Parkland Foundation Community First Award.

Aubrey lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife Elizabeth Coleman, Esq., and their dog Loki. The couple is eagerly awaiting the arrival of twins Aubrey III and Amelia later this summer. 

Kimberly Bourroughs Debrow   

Kimberly Bourroughs Debrow is a Partner with Strickland Debrow, LLC.  Kimberly is a trial attorney who handles matters involving high-stakes investigations, complex criminal defense, elder protection, and general civil disputes.  Her diverse range of legal experience includes defending medical malpractice claims, prosecuting serious felonies in various metro-Atlanta district attorney’s offices, and representing both individuals and entities in business and appellate litigation.  Kimberly began her legal career in public service as a prosecutor, and previously worked at the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Department of Justice, as well as several non-profit policy organizations in Washington, DC before attending law school.

Recognized as one who is “On the Rise” by the Fulton Daily Report, Kimberly is an expert in Georgia’s business crimes, fraud, and financial investigations.  She is an adjunct professor of Trial Practice at the University of Georgia School of Law, and she currently serves on the Consumer Advisory Board for the Attorney General’s Office in Georgia.  

Kimberly recently served as President of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys and has held other leadership roles for various organizations, including the Atlanta Bar Association, the Gate City Bar Association, the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta, and ChildrenConnect of Newnan.  She is a member of Leadership Coweta’s current class of 2022-2023, Leadership Georgia, LEAD Atlanta, the State Bar of Georgia’s Leadership Academy, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  

Although she was born and raised within the military and Korean communities of Seoul, S. Korea during her early formative years, Kimberly calls Georgia home.  She is a graduate of Howard University and the University of Georgia School of Law.  Together with her husband, she enjoys being a parent to their daughter and actively serving in their local community.  

Charles Deskins II   

Charles Deskins is an associate with Alverson Taylor & Sanders in Las Vegas, Nevada. He practices family law and civil litigation. Charles was born and raised in Southeast Washington D.C. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He received his Juris Doctorate from the Charlotte School of Law and his L.L.M  in the niche field of Gaming Policy & Regulation from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 

In 2018, Charles Deskins became the first African American male to receive a L.L.M. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The same year, Charles launched a charity foundation in his father’s namesake to raise awareness and fight Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The Charles Deskins Foundation’s mission is to educate families affected by COPD. In the near future, the foundation will offer scholarships for college students with parents or family members that have been negatively impacted by COPD. 

In the gaming industry, Deskins helped to develop the initial framework for sports wagering in the state of Maryland. Prior to joining Alverson Taylor & Sanders, Charles worked for GameCo, a slot manufacturing gaming company, which revolutionized the slot industry by developing hybrid machines featuring video games for multiplayers. This development became a branch of the gaming industry known as E-Sports.

When Charles is not working with his foundation or shaking the pillars of justice for his clients, he is a classically trained pianist who also enjoys cooking and traveling internationally. Charles is a horse racing expert, and former exercise rider at Laurel Park Racetrack in Laurel, MD. He is an accomplished sports handicapper and Sports Betting Handicap Director for the online stock monitoring website, 

Amanda Cruz Do Couto   

Amanda Cruz Do Couto is Patent Counsel with META PLATFORMS, INC., where she is responsible for the global patent portfolio development and strategy for Instagram and WhatsApp.  Amanda’s work at Meta goes beyond patent strategy and much of her work drives impact on diversity and inclusion.  Amanda led a team dedicated to creating a more inclusive tool for inventors to submit their ideas for patent consideration.  These improvements were implemented with the goal of increasing the number of underrepresented inventors named on Meta’s patents.  Amanda played a significant role in developing the first-of-its-kind program (the Patent Pipeline Program) aimed at increasing diversity within the patent profession and, as part of the program’s launch, she led panel discussions with industry experts and leaders before an audience of 100+ attendees. 

Prior to joining Meta, Amanda was a patent litigator at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in Washington, DC, where she litigated cases related to biochemistry and mechanical engineering. During her time at Weil, Amanda was awarded the Pro Bono Service Award for her work helping low-income families fight discriminatory housing practices in Washington, D.C., and for helping refugees gain legal status in Texas. 

Amanda served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Robert W. Schroeder in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, and as a law clerk with the U.S. International Trade Commission’s Office of Unfair Import Investigations.

Amanda received her Juris Doctor with honors from The George Washington University School of Law and a B.S. in Chemistry from The George Washington University.   She is a member of the American Bar Association, American Intellectual Property Law Association, AXE Professional Chemistry Fraternity, National Society of Black Engineers, GW Student Intellectual Property Law Association, and the National Association of Women Lawyers, National Bar Association.  

Jared Evans   

Jared Evans is a policy counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the nation’s oldest and foremost civil rights law organization. Jared’s practice area at LDF is focused on political participation, with a particular emphasis on voting rights, the census, and redistricting. 

During the 2021 redistricting cycle in Louisiana, Jared led the civil rights and racial justice coalition, a group of 16 human and civil rights organizations, in advocating for greater minority representation on all governmental and legislative bodies, including the Louisiana Supreme Court, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the United States Congress. Jared also led the coalition’s efforts in successfully pressuring the Governor to veto the racist, unfair, and illegal congressional map passed by the legislature that packed Black voters into just one district and lobbying the legislature to sustain the Governor’s veto. The coalition’s efforts resulted in the construction of a robust and comprehensive record of racial discrimination at every step of the legislative process in preparation for litigation.  

Prior to joining LDF, Jared held legislative and policy positions with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana House of Representatives, and served in the offices of former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and former Louisiana State Representative and Senator Rick Gallot. 

Jared is a magna cum laude graduate of Grambling State University and holds law degrees from Southern University Law Center and the George Washington University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Division, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and St. Augustine Catholic Church. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Southern University Law Center and is licensed to practice law in all courts in Louisiana and the District of Columbia. 

Melvin L. Felton, II  

Melvin Felton, II is a Partner with Sanders Roberts LLP, where he represents corporations and high-ranking executives in a wide range of employment and complex business litigation matters. Mr. Felton has extensive experience advising in all stages of litigation, mediation, and arbitration, having successfully resolved hundreds of matters in a variety of different industries, including technology, logistics, construction, professional services, retail, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and real estate.

Mr. Felton is active in the legal community. He is the three-term Treasurer of the NBA Affiliate, the John M. Langston Bar Association of Los Angeles where he is also a Life Member. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Litigation Section. Mr. Felton also teaches the Legal Aspects of Human Resource Administration at California State University, Long Beach. Additionally, Mr. Felton has spoken on numerous panels regarding trial strategy, legal ethics, disability discrimination issues, and other employment law matters. He has been published on numerous employment law-related issues.

The Los Angeles Business Journal recently recognized Mr. Felton among its 2022 'Leaders of Influence: Minority Attorneys' and its '2021 Leaders in Law.' The Daily Journal named him to its prestigious 2021 'Top 40 Lawyers Under Age 40 [in California]'. Super Lawyers has recognized Mr. Felton as a Southern California Rising Star for the past three years. The National Bar Association has recognized Mr. Felton as an Outstanding Board Member of its Young Lawyers Division and with its presidential Award. Also, the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA) has recognized Mr. Felton for legal excellence.

Mr. Felton earned a BA from the University of Southern California, and a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School.  

Nilaja S. Ford  

Nilaja S. Ford is the Founding/Managing Partner of the Law Office of Nilaja S. Ford, Esquire. As a non-traditional law student, Ms. Ford worked full-time as a Human Resources Manager at Rutgers University while attending law school in the evening at Rutgers Law School (Newark). She began her legal career as a Judicial Law Clerk (Superior Court of New Jersey – Essex County Vicinage Criminal Division) under the Honorable Harold Fullilove, Jr. She then worked as a Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor in the Bail Reform Unit and Special Victims Units. Ms. Ford ventured out on her own to build a full-service law firm where she specializes in Family Law. She currently employs 3 attorneys and 4 staff.

Ms. Ford is a very active servant and mentor in the legal community. She was recently named as a Trustee of the IOLTA Fund of the Bar of New Jersey for a five-year term beginning in March of 2022. She received a President’s Award for her work with the NBA during CK Hoffler’s presidency and was also named as a 2021 “New Leader of the Bar” by the New Jersey Legal Journal. Ms. Ford was featured by Essence Magazine on her experience as a Black woman in law:

Her leadership roles include Region III Director of the National Bar Association (PA, NJ, and DE); Policy & Programming Coordinator for current the NBA Presidential Administration; Board of Directors & Co-Chair of the Substantive Law Committee for the Garden State Bar Association; Financial Secretary & Membership Committee Chair of the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey; 2021-2022 Fellow of the American Bar Association Family Law Section; Domestic Violence Chair of the American Bar Association Family Law Section; and Executive Committee/Founding Member of the Rutgers Law Alumnae Network. 

Sondra D. Grigsby   

Sondra D. Grigsby is a partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP.  She is a leading commercial litigator representing plaintiffs and defendants in bet-the-company disputes, including fraud, securities, white-collar criminal defense, and bankruptcy matters. Sondra also has significant experience handling high-stakes breach of contract, reformation, and defamation cases, including second-chairing a successful breach of a contract jury trial.  Sondra was selected as a 2022 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellow.

Sondra’s track record of recovering or defending against claims for hundreds of millions of dollars and helping various stakeholders of distressed companies maximize their recovery is very impressive.  She was an instrumental member of the Kasowitz team representing Harbinger Capital Partners in LightSquared’s high-profile Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases.  Sondra and the Kasowitz team successfully helped Harbinger restructure its $2 billion investment in LightSquared, ensuring that Harbinger continued to own a stake in the reorganized debtors.  Sondra and the Kasowitz team also successfully represented Harbinger in its highly publicized fraud lawsuit against Dish Chairman Charles Ergen.  Sondra is also a key member of the Kasowitz team representing Teva Pharmaceuticals, the world’s largest generic drug manufacturer, and its subsidiary Actavis, in defense of antitrust actions commenced by the State Attorneys General for 48 states, 28 civil antitrust class actions, and three direct actions.

Beyond her practice, Sondra dedicates her time to pro bono matters, representing pro bono clients in fair housing and asylum matters. She also coordinates Kasowitz’s mentoring program, in partnership with the Justice Resource Center, with the Law Institute at John Dewey High School, one of New York’s most diverse schools.  For the past few years, Sondra and other Kasowitz attorneys have coached a team of students in the New York City Mock Trial and Moot Court Tournaments.  Sondra attended Georgetown University Law Center and graduated cum laude from Pepperdine University.  

Derick G. Holt   

Derick Holt is an International Trade Partner with Wiley Rein LLP. He represents clients in a variety of international trade matters.

Derick attended Howard University School of Law (“HUSL”), where he graduated first in his class. After working at the U.S. International Trade Commission (“USITC”) throughout college and law school, Derick first came to Wiley as a Summer Associate and joined the firm as an Associate in 2011. With an outstanding record of success for Wiley’s trade clients, he was promoted to Partner at age 34 in 2021.

Recognized as a “Rising Star” by Law360 (2020) and The National Law Journal (2021), Derick has been instrumental in Wiley’s biggest trade cases, securing crucial victories for U.S. companies and industries whose very existence is threatened by foreign competitors’ unfair trade practices. This includes successfully representing domestic steel manufacturers as well as U.S. chassis, wind-tower, and wire-rod producers in subsidy and antidumping investigations to obtain trade remedies and protect American jobs.  

Derick is among the first Black law firm partners to practice international trade-remedy law. He serves as Vice-Chair of the Customs and International Trade Bar Association’s DEI Committee, advocates for changes needed in the trade field to foster more engagement and inclusivity among historically-underrepresented groups, and has established an endowed scholarship at HUSL for students interested in international trade.

This year, he participated in a USITC hearing and several roundtables focusing on race and ethnicity. He also is a participant in Wiley’s pro bono program, where he represents low-income DC residents and nonprofit organizations in landlord-tenant disputes. Derick is a trusted mentor to younger associates and co-chairs Wiley’s Minority Lawyers Affinity Group and Associates Committee has served on Wiley’s DEI Committee and was a 2018 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellow. 

Brandi G. Howard   

Brandi is a Partner with McGuireWoods LLP in Washington, D.C.  She was elected to partnership in less than two years of joining the firm, due to her impressive litigation skills and ability to resonate with clients.  Brandi specializes in government and internal investigations and complex appeals and trial litigation.


She began her career at a small law firm in Texas where she assisted small businesses in commercial disputes, licensed professionals before their respective administrative boards, and families of color in the Texas Child Protective Services System. Before leaving Texas, she was a leader on the trial and appellate teams for a historically Black Church, which won a landmark decision regarding the Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine on appeal. Brandi returned to the District of Columbia to clerk for Chief Judge Eric T. Washington, of the D.C. Court of Appeals.  She then went on to clerk for the late Judge Damon J. Keith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. After clerking, she joined the complex litigation group at a national law firm in Washington, D.C. before she was recruited to McGuireWoods. 

Brandi maintains an active pro bono practice in the D.C. local courts where she continues to represent families of color and historically Black Churches.  Brandi is also an Associate Board member of Just the Beginning — A Pipeline Organization, which helps place law students of color in judicial clerkships as well as assists younger students in getting into law school. Brandi also regularly mentors law students and young lawyers with career placement.

Brandi graduated from The American University in Washington, D.C. with a B.A. degree in Philosophy, and received her J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law.  She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  

Martinis M. Jackson   

Martinis Jackson is the owner of Jackson Legal Services PLLC. He will accept the NBA’s 40 under 40 award in his hometown of Memphis, TN where he received his undergraduate (English) and graduate degrees (Masters in Teaching) from Christian Brothers University.

Prior to attending law school, Martinis gave back to his community by serving as a public school teacher and basketball coach in the district where he attended high school. Driven by a mission to fight for civil rights, Martinis left teaching and attended Howard University School of Law where he graduated valedictorian of his class. After graduating from Howard Law, Martinis made his mark on the criminal justice system as a prosecutor in the District of Columbia trying dozens of misdemeanor and felony cases. 

In 2018, Martinis published Justice My Way: Memoirs of a Black Prosecutor, which explores the role of prosecutors and details the difficulties minorities face when serving in this important role. Justice My Way has received recognition in the legal community and has garnered a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Amazon. 

Martinis appears frequently as a guest on panels, podcasts, and speaking engagements to share his views on civil rights and criminal justice. In 2019, he served as the guest speaker for the prestigious Ollie May Cooper Award for award recipient and Attorney General of the District of Columbia, Karl Recine. He currently owns and operates Jackson Legal Services PLLC, a firm dedicated to serving clients with life-changing injuries due to personal injury and police misconduct.  

Nicole Lynn   

Nicole Lynn, a Tulsa, Oklahoma native, attended the University of Oklahoma and studied Business Management at Price College of Business with a minor in African-American Studies. After graduation, Nicole moved to New York and worked as a financial analyst for one of the largest investment banks in the world, Morgan Stanley. Nicole obtained both her Series 7 and Series 63 certifications through FINRA while working on Wall Street.

In 2012, Nicole returned to Oklahoma to pursue a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Oklahoma College of Law where she graduated in the top of her class with honors. Nicole was inducted into the Order of the Coif honor society. After graduation, Nicole spent a year working at the NFL Players Association in Washington D.C. before beginning a federal clerkship for the Honorable Judge Robin Cauthron, District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.

In 2015 Nicole sat for and passed the NFL Contract Advisor exam after receiving her Texas law license and began pursuing her dual careers as an attorney and sports agent. Nicole spent 6 years practicing as a senior associate at one of the world’s largest law firms, Norton Rose Fulbright, and represented some of the biggest companies in the country in high-level complex civil litigation cases. Nicole is an NFLPA and NBAPA certified sports agent.

In 2019, Nicole Lynn became the first Black woman to represent a Top 3 NFL draft pick (and only the second woman in history to solo represent an NFL first-rounder). The following year, Lynn again made history, representing back-to-back Top 10 NFL draft picks.  Beyond the realm of sports, she represents multiple clients in the entertainment industry; ranging from broadcasters to music artist. Nicole is also a new author, having released her first book, Agent You, in July 2021.  

Nicole’s legal training makes her a fierce advocate for her clients, and she is breath of fresh air in a male- dominated industry.  

Ashlee C. Martin   

Ashlee Martin is a named Partner at Gerger, Hennessy & Martin LLP, a Chambers Band 1 ranked white-collar criminal defense firm in Houston, Texas. Ashlee is an experienced trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor who currently defends individuals and companies in criminal and civil proceedings in federal and state courts. Her recent trial victory included receiving an acquittal of all charges against DOJ for client Mark Forkner, who was the only person criminally charged in the Boeing 737 Max crashes. 

Before private practice, Ashlee served as Trial Attorney and Assistant Chief in the U.S. Department of Justice, Fraud Section. She led the Health Care Fraud Strike Force—supervising seven prosecutors and overseeing complex fraud cases in Texas. She supervised dozens of investigations and prosecutions of white-collar crime and tried numerous federal jury trials involving hundreds of millions of dollars of fraud claims.  

Ashlee’s work at DOJ garnered several accolades including the HHS Inspector General’s Award for Integrity; HHS Inspector General’s Award for Excellence; IRS Criminal Investigation’s Recognition for Outstanding Support; and the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service. 

Ashlee has served on the boards of several legal and social organizations, including the Texas Civil Rights Project, the Federal Bar Association for the Southern District of Texas, and the Houston Association of Women Attorneys. She is committed to pro bono service. Her recent pro bono work includes representing Maurice Hall, the passenger in George Floyd’s car, and helping students at T.M. Landry—a high school accused of submitting fraudulent college applications. Her work has been featured in Bloomberg Law, CNN Chris Cuomo, the New York Times, and was the focus of the premiere episode of NYT’s docuseries “The Weekly.” She has been named Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch 2020-2022. 

Ashlee attended Spelman College and Vanderbilt University Law School.  

Keira T. Mitchell   

Keira T. Mitchell is an Associate with Maron Marvel Bradley Anderson & Tardy LLC practicing insurance defense. She is a dynamic senior attorney who has practiced maritime law, personal injury, tax law and family law. Previously, Mitchell served the residents of Texas as an Assistant Attorney General. Mitchell founded and operated Mitchell Law Group, P.L.L.C for over ten (10) years. She is licensed in Texas and is a Certified Mediator. Additionally, she is admitted to practice Federal Law in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. She is a member of the National Bar Association (NBA), State Bar of Texas, and the Houston Lawyers Association.

Mitchell hails from the state of Georgia. Mitchell is a proud graduate of Oakwood University, an HBCU, where she earned a B.A. in English: Professional Writing. A lifelong learner, while attending Oakwood University, she spent a year studying abroad in Valencia, Spain, where she obtained a Spanish Language Certificate from prestigious La Escuela Superior de Español de Sagunto. Mitchell received her Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center (SULC). At SULC, she had the privilege to study International Criminal Law and Private Law abroad at the City University of London in London, England.

Mitchell has dedicated herself to increasing the representation of African Americans in the legal field and spearheaded the formation of an alumni chapter at Oakwood University to bring together graduates in the legal field. She also mentors Houstonian high school and college students who wish to enter the legal field. Mitchell is a committed volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, the Star of Hope, and the 5th Ward Farmer Street Garden. Notably, Mitchell is a financial sponsor and co-chair for the Region V level of the NBA Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Competition.  

Kelly D. Newsome   

Kelly D. Newsome is a Senior Associate with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. A member of Orrick’s White Collar, Investigations, & Compliance group, Kelly advises individuals and corporations in white-collar criminal and regulatory matters across the globe with a focus on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other anti-corruption laws and regulations. Kelly is also an active member of Orrick's Africa practice and works on a variety of legal matters across several jurisdictions in the areas of anti-corruption compliance, extractive industry transparency, illegal detention, and transitional justice.  

Kelly remains actively committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and recently served as co-chair of the Black Lawyers of Orrick (BLOO) affinity group. Over the last two years, Kelly partnered with Orrick’s leadership to address the racial reckoning both inside and outside of the firm. She envisioned, executed, and hosted Juneteenth conversations with Soledad O’Brien and Dr. Henry Louis Gates that reached thousands of clients and team members. She brought the vision to the establishment of the firm’s innovative Racial, Social, and Economic Justice Fellowship program.  A gifted photographer and storyteller, Kelly captured powerful images of peaceful demonstrations throughout Harlem in the summer of 2020, which formed an essential part of Orrick’s solidarity statement.

Kelly serves on the Board of Directors for the New York Landmarks Conservancy, an organization dedicated to preserving, revitalizing, and reusing historic structures in New York state. She also serves on the advisory board of the International Medalist Association, an organization focused on nurturing girls' health, fitness, and leadership skills through sports and academics in West Africa. 

Kelly holds a BA and MPA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a JD from Georgetown University Law Center, and a French law degree from Sciences Po Paris. 

Tiffani Otey   

Tiffani Otey is a trademark associate with the law firm of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, LLP.  She is a bright star in trademark law, working with diverse clients, including innovative startups, well-known international brands, and nonprofits. She is also a sought-after teacher, presenter, and writer on trademarks and branding. Additionally, Tiffani is devoted to the promotion of education – from supporting better schools and activities for children to teaching law students to mentoring. 

In her law practice, Tiffani assists businesses with protecting their valuable brands. Her experience includes all aspects of trademark protection, from selection of an available trademark to protection of the mark under the applicable federal and common laws, to enforcement of that mark against infringements and unauthorized uses. She has considerable experience practicing before the United States Trademark Office and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.  Because brands are such essential business assets, Tiffani approaches each matter with the client’s business strategy in mind, and clients appreciate both Tiffani’s ability to offer tailormade solutions and her dedication to every project. 

Despite Tiffani’s demanding practice, she makes it a priority to give back to the community, and no cause is closer to her heart than education. Tiffani co-chaired the 2021-2022 community council at her children’s Montessori school. Under her leadership, the advisory board worked to facilitate community participation by successfully tailoring in-person gatherings to the realities of COVID-19. She was recently invited to join the school’s board of directors.

Tiffani was also selected as a member of the 2022 Flagship Class for Leadership Winston-Salem, an organization dedicated to promoting civic leadership.  Tiffani has also plans to join the board of Kaleideum, a children’s hands-on museum in Winston-Salem in Summer 2022.  

Roy Prather III   

Roy Prather is a Principal with Beveridge & Diamond, an environmental law firm. He maintains a national practice focused on complex environmental and commercial litigation matters. 

Roy represents businesses and public sector entities across a broad range of industry sectors in federal and state courts. He defends citizen suits and class actions involving toxic tort, product liability, and green marketing-related consumer protection claims. Roy advises clients on issues relating to environmental regulatory compliance and represents clients in indemnity and other commercial contract disputes relating to construction as well as contaminated site cleanup. He also works with clients to manage sensitive multi-stakeholder interactions related to environmental justice (EJ), including developing creative solutions to address EJ community concerns. Roy currently serves in firm leadership as a member of the firm’s Management Committee and before that as the Chair of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee.

Roy regularly publishes and speaks regarding environmental litigation and EJ issues. He recently served as a member of Law360’s 2021 Environmental Editorial Advisory Board.  Additionally, in 2021 the American Lawyer’s AmLaw Litigation Daily highlighted one of Roy’s significant litigation accomplishments when he and his team were named “Litigators of the Week” for their successful resolution of major litigation defending the City of Newark over issues regarding lead in drinking water.

Roy prioritizes being an active member of his community. In 2022, Roy joined the Board of Directors of the National Aquarium. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the Black BigLaw Pipeline, Inc., a non-profit established to promote positive outcomes for Black attorneys in large law firms. Additionally, Roy currently serves as the Co-Vice Chair of the NBA’s Environmental, Energy, and Public Utilities Law Section.

Roy obtained a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.  

Reganel J. Reeves   

Reganel J. Reeves is the Founder and Managing Partner of Esquire Litigation Group®. Esquire Litigation Group® is a firm with a national reach that primarily serves clients in the states of Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California. Despite the firm’s reputation as a Personal Injury law firm, Reganel is committed to litigating civil rights cases all throughout the United States. Reganel is fortunate to share in the practice of law with his beautiful wife Christian. 

Reganel began practicing law as a general practitioner immediately upon graduating from law school. Being a general practitioner taught Reganel how to handle many different areas of law which have become a major asset as his legal career progresses. Whether the injustice includes a 5-year-old child with special needs being placed in the back of a police car and involuntarily committed to a mental hospital in Jacksonville or a civil rights leader being wrongfully convicted in Memphis for simply registering to vote, Reganel will always be there to fight for justice. His diverse legal knowledge in the fields of civil rights, personal injury, and criminal defense is invaluable for cases that have cross-sectional legal issues.

Reganel is deeply committed to charity and community service. Domestically, Reganel donates to charities such as the Edith Marie Foundation which helps women pay their bills while battling breast cancer. He also does annual charity events such as Thanksgiving meal giveaways and back-to-school supply drives. Reganel is also active in the African country of Ghana where he makes charitable donations to children with special needs such as The Cape Coast School for The Deaf and Blind. 

Reganel is a native of Jacksonville, Florida, and an honor graduate of Florida State University and FAMU College of Law. Reganel is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated.  

Joanne Saint Louis   

Joanne Saint Louis is the director of diversity outreach at JAMS, the world's largest private alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider. Ms. Saint Louis joined JAMS in August 2019 as the first diversity and inclusion manager for an ADR provider and was recently promoted to director. She is the vice-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee. She oversees external diversity initiatives at JAMS. During her short time at JAMS, Ms. Saint Louis has co-created and facilitated employee resource groups within the organization and expanded the D&I Committee to increase JAMS’ diversity, equity and inclusion footprint within the legal industry. She has also created a domestic diversity fellowship to increase the diversity pipeline within ADR.

Ms. Saint Louis is a thought leader within the ADR industry and has published various publications to promote the selection of diverse neutrals. She continues to speak and create webinars to increase pipeline opportunities and enhance the visibility of diverse neutrals within the legal profession.

Ms. Saint Louis comes to JAMS from the American Arbitration Association, where she was the director of ADR services in its Labor, Employment and Elections Division. She was also a member of the AAA’s Diversity Committee and was responsible for putting on several successful ADR and diversity events.

Ms. Saint Louis graduated from Suffolk University in Boston, where she received a B.S. in political science, with a minor in sociology. She also received her J.D. from the Massachusetts School of Law. Prior to working at the AAA, she worked in Social Security Disability law.  Ms. Saint Louis is a founding member of the ADR Inclusion Network and vice-chair of the American Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section’s Diversity Committee. She is also a member of various affinity bar associations and organizations.  

Miska L. Shaw   

Miska L. Shaw is a Partner at Ahmad Zaffarese LLC, with offices in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and New York. There is no shortage of descriptive words that could be used to describe Attorney Shaw. She excels, she serves, she leads, and most importantly she is authentic in all of her endeavors. Attorney Shaw embodies –  “Black girl” magic –  young, gifted, and Black. Attorney Shaw deserves the honor of being named a Top 40 Under 40 due to her service, commitment, and outstanding professional accomplishments!

What really makes Attorney Shaw perfect for this honor is her ability to dominate in a practice area that is traditionally racially exclusive and male-dominated. She made partner at age 35 and is the only actively practicing Black, woman bond/public finance attorney in the Memphis area and one of only two in the State of Tennessee. She is licensed to practice in TN, PA, NJ, and NY jurisdictions. 

Attorney Shaw has been a member of the Memphis Ben F. Jones Chapter of the NBA since her first full year of law practice in 2010. She volunteered for various Chapter projects over the years, including being a part of a select small group that ultimately brought this year's 2022 NBA Annual Convention to Memphis. She currently serves on her Chapter's Elections Committee.

Attorney Shaw regularly attends NBA Annual Conventions and previously served in the Real Estate & Property Law Section. She is also affiliated with the National Association of Bond Lawyers and the Ladies First - Midatlantic Women's Public Finance Group, two organizations that are specific to Attorney Shaw's practice area of public finance law. 

Attorney Shaw serves and works with distinction, and with boundless promise worthy of the honor of being recognized as a Top 40 Under 40!  

Almuhtada Smith

Almuhtada Smith is currently employed as the principal attorney with ARS IP Law Firm, P.C. (“ARS Counsel”). With over a decade of legal experience, Almuhtada handles complex transactional matters providing counsel to various start-up enterprises, entertainment professionals, venture-backed companies and family-owned businesses.  His service areas of expertise include managing intellectual property, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, licensing, e-commerce, and corporate governance. 

Almuhtada spent much of his career at several prestigious law firms, including The Cochran Firm and Jenner & Block. His exposure to Fortune 500 business leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovative start-ups influenced his entrepreneurial vision that inspired his founding of ARS Counsel. Almuhtada focuses on social innovation and racial equity in his practice, offering premium services to entrepreneurs and creatives of color. His high-quality work placed Almuhtada on the 2021 and 2022 Southern California Rising Stars lists, an honor reserved for only 2.5% of Southern California attorneys. Almuhtada champions diversity in the legal profession and recently penned an op-ed for Bloomberg Law titled "Flores' NFL Story Parallels Lack of Diversity in Legal Industry." He has also shared his expertise with Ebony Magazine, highlighting tips for Black entrepreneurs seeking start-up funding.  

A native of Passaic, New Jersey, Almuhtada was born into a loving family struggling with the realities of poverty. His environment instilled him with a strong sense of character, ethical values, and a determined work ethic. Almuhtada obtained his undergraduate degree at Morehouse College, where he joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and earned his J.D at the UCLA School of Law. Committed to serving his community, Almuhtada is Chairman for the Los Angeles Southwest College Foundation and a lifetime member of the John M. Langston Bar Association. He enjoys spending time with friends and family and supporting the visual and performing arts community in Los Angeles.  

Jennifer L. Sneed   

Jennifer L. Sneed, Esq., is an associate attorney with Evans Petree Bourland Heflin PC, where she specializes in estate planning, administration, and litigation. As a probate lawyer, Jennifer protects and advances the rights of those who, due to minority, disability, or death, are unable to represent themselves. In the six years since she graduated from the University of Memphis Law School, Jennifer has developed a robust practice that spans fourteen counties in West Tennessee and is one of the most frequently-appointed guardians and attorneys ad litem for complex litigation involving people with limited capacity in Shelby County.

A former judicial law clerk for Judge Karen Webster, the first African American probate judge in Shelby County, Jennifer currently serves as President of the Memphis Bar Association’s Probate Section and West Tennessee Governor for the Tennessee Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. She has been a frequent contributor to the Daily Memphian newspaper and has given nearly a dozen presentations to both lawyers and the general public about various aspects of probate and estate law.

Jennifer recently served on a steering committee of the National Compassion Fund, which collected and distributed over $1,000,000 to the victims of the 2021 shooting incident in Collierville, Tennessee. She is a former board member of the Midtown Memphis Rotary Club and takes particular pride in serving on the board of REACH Memphis, an organization that prepares public high school students for academic and professional success through mentoring and intensive college counseling.

Prior to attending law school, Jennifer volunteered for two years with Serviam Gardens, an affordable senior housing complex in the Bronx, New York. At Serviam, Jennifer worked with governmental and private organizations to provide on-site financial, social, and health resources. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English, cum laude, from Christian Brothers University.  

Patrice A. Sulton   

Patrice Sulton is Executive Director of DC Justice Lab. She is an attorney, professor, and criminal justice reform advocate based in Washington, D.C. Her career is devoted to fundamentally changing the way people think about who we punish, why we punish, and how we punish. A lifelong organizer, Patrice believes the brilliant ideas we are looking for are in the brilliant people we overlook. She envisions, writes, and fights for sweeping changes to American criminal laws and policies.  Patrice was named a “Rising Star” by the Greater Washington Area Chapter of the National Bar Association and received National Bar Association’s Lendon J. Alexander Advocacy & Leadership Award. This year, she is an Echoing Green Fellow, a finalist in the World Justice Challenge, and the recipient of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee’s Alfred McKenzie Award.


Patrice has represented clients in criminal and civil rights cases in D.C. courts and federal courts nationwide. She served on the District of Columbia’s Criminal Code Reform Commission (comprehensively rewriting D.C.’s criminal code), Police Reform Commission (recommending an overhaul of D.C.’s approach to public safety), and Jails & Justice Task Force (publishing a plan to decarcerate by half and bring D.C.’s residents home to a safe environment).


Prior to her work drafting legislation, Patrice earned a reputation as a focused and fierce advocate for her clients and is known for leveraging her deep understanding of substantive law and procedure to approach cases thoughtfully and holistically.   

Patrice is a passionate instructor and counsels law professionals, policymakers and community advocates on criminal justice, racial justice, constitutional law, advocacy, and systems change. She is a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School and, last year, she was awarded the Distinguished Adjunct Teaching Award. 


Patrice earned her BA in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her JD from The George Washington University Law School. 

Daiquiri J. Steele   

Dr. Daiquiri Steele is an Assistant Professor of Law at The University of Alabama School of Law, where she teaches civil rights, employment, labor, education, and legislative and regulatory law courses.  Her scholarly research centers on the effectiveness of laws intended to facilitate equal access to employment and education.  

From 2019 to 2021, Dr. Steele was a Forrester Fellow at Tulane University Law School.  She also served as Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Assistant Professor of Law in Residence at The University of Alabama School of Law.  Before joining academia, Dr. Steele was a civil rights attorney with the U.S. Department of Education.

Dr. Steele is Chair of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Employment Discrimination Law and Chair-Elect of the AALS Section on Labor Relations and Employment Law. She is a national leader within the American Bar Association (ABA), formerly serving as ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession Commissioner, Chief Policy Officer for the ABA Young Lawyers Division (YLD), and member of the Alabama State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.


A leader in the profession, she is an American Bar Foundation Fellow, State Bar of Georgia YLD Award of Achievement for Outstanding Service to the Profession recipient, and a 2020 ABA On The Rise Top 40 Young Lawyers Award recipient.  

Dr. Steele completed her undergraduate studies in Economics and Political Science at Spelman College where she was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society.  She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia School of Law, her Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University, and her Ph.D. in Business Administration from Hampton University. In her community, she serves on the Board of Directors for Heart Gallery Alabama and Kids Play Alabama.  

LaQuita R. Stokes   

LaQuita R. Stokes is a Managing Attorney at Stokes & Glass, PLLC.  She is licensed to practice law in Tennessee and primarily practices in the areas of family law, business, and entertainment law.  In 2013, she was the lead attorney on a child support case before the Tennessee Appellate Court that changed the law as it relates to disestablishing the paternity of a child.

Attorney Stokes is a Memphis native and graduate of Vanderbilt University College of Arts & Sciences and the University of Kentucky College of Law.  She is the current President of the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association and under her leadership as Vice-President and now President the organization has surpassed its fundraising goals two years in a row.  She serves on the board of the Memphis Bar Association, On-Location Memphis, Shelby County Law Library Board, and Charis Acres, a retirement home in Memphis.

She has received numerous awards, including the 2017 Tri-State Defender’s Best Overall Attorney and the 2017 Best Family Law/Divorce Attorney at the Annual Tri-State Defender’s Best in Black Awards.  In 2018, She was a “Dress for Success” honoree as a woman with an Entrepreneurial Spirit.  In 2019, she was an “Outstanding Citizen” honoree at the Memphis 2019 40 Under 40 Urban Elite Awards.

She is also the Co-Owner of Sapphire & Emerald women’s clothing store, an active member of the Memphis Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and a faithful member of Cornerstone Church of Christ where her father is senior pastor.  She is the daughter of Jimmy L. Stokes Sr. and the late Peggie A. Stokes.  She has two (2) brothers: Pastor Jimmy Stokes, II & Corby Stokes; a sister-in-law, Akilah Stokes; one niece, Xaria Stokes, and one nephew Corby Stokes, II. 

Jessica Tehlirian

Jessica Tehlirian is a Personal Injury Trial Lawyer with Esquire Litigation Group. She is the managing attorney and founding partner of their Atlanta office. She, along with her other partners at ELG, has helped grow the firm into eight offices nationwide including Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California.  She began her career as a prosecutor in Tallahassee, Florida where she advocated for thousands of victims in the community. She tried more than twenty jury and non-jury trials ranging from misdemeanors to rape and murder.  Prior to her current role she was the Head of the Litigation Department for The Cochran Firm Jacksonville. There, she supervised other litigation attorneys while maintaining her own caseload of personal injury cases involving serious injuries and death. She has personally recovered millions of dollars for her injured clients. Additionally, she served as The National Social Media Manager for The Cochran Firm.  

After graduating from The University of Michigan in 2011, she obtained her Juris Doctorate from Florida State University along with a Business Law Certificate with Honors in 2014. Thereafter, she obtained her Master of Business Administration from Florida State in 2019. She is licensed to practice in Florida and Georgia.  Attorney Tehlirian uses her love for social media to draw in clients daily across her various platforms totaling over 140,000 followers. She is the founder and co-owner of Lawyerbaes. The trademark has been tagged on Instagram almost 100,000 times. “Lawyerbae” has been featured on the legal drama “All Rise” numerous times. Lawyerbae collaborated with CNN correspondent Angela Rye for a virtual graduation ceremony during the pandemic. The organization has hosted numerous events around the country.

She has been awarded The Top 40 Under 40 Civil Plaintiff Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers and The National Black Lawyers for multiple years.  

Quinton Thompson

Quinton Thompson is a personal injury attorney with Morgan & Morgan in Memphis, TN where he primarily deals with automobile collisions, slip and falls, and wrongful deaths cases. 

Mr. Thompson earned his B.S. degree from the University of Tennessee Knoxville where he graduated magna cum laude with degrees in both Business Administration Management and Psychology. He then went on to earn his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2015.  

Before joining Morgan and Morgan, Quinton practiced personal injury law with Nahon, Saharovich, and Trotz and he also completed a legal fellowship with the Mississippi Center for Justice where he helped hundreds of individuals expunge their criminal records. 

Quinton is currently the Immediate Past President of both the Young Lawyers’ Division of the Memphis Bar Association and the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association. He is also the Vice President for the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Division, and he serves an affiliate chapter representative on the National Bar Association’s Board of Governors.  

Michael B. Victorian   

Michael B. Victorian is an associate with Phelps Dunbar. He is committed not just to success, but to progress, and sets an example for both the legal profession and the Baton Rouge community.  As an attorney at one of the region’s largest law firms, Michael represents employers in all aspects of litigation and administrative proceedings. He is adept at handling claims of discrimination, harassment, and fair labor standards violations for transportation, education, and health care clients. He is also a member of the Defense Research Institute, the leading organization of civil defense attorneys.

Michael regularly publishes and presents on employment law issues to colleagues, business leaders, and law school students and is active with the Young Lawyers Division of Louisiana and Baton Rouge Bar Associations. 

Michael earned his J.D. in 2014 from Southern University Law Center and his B.A. in journalism and public relations in 2005 from Howard University. He is involved in both university’s alumni associations and serves as adjunct professor at the law center, teaching civil procedure and legal writing. 

Michael also serves as a role model in his community. He leads the Greater Baton Rouge Chapter of the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, Inc., is secretary of 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, and joined the 2021 class of Leadership Baton Rouge.

Michael’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. He was recently recognized as a Great Futures Honoree, named to Louisiana Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars list, ranked in The Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch, and included in the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s Pathfinders Program.  Michael is an exceptional leader and hard worker, counseling young people to treat everyone with dignity and respect and embodying these characteristics in his personal and professional life.  

Eric L. White   

Eric White is a partner with Kirkland & Ellis LLP.  Eric focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation and investigations. He has broad experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of industries, including environmental, technology, pharmaceutical, private equity, higher education, retail and insurance. He has successfully represented clients in all aspects of state and federal litigation, including complex discovery, motion practice, fact, and expert depositions, and bench and jury trials.  He also leads and counsels clients in sensitive investigations, which have included allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, and employee misconduct.

Eric also maintains an active pro bono practice.  Recently, Eric along with dozens of attorneys across Kirkland’s offices assisted the Minnesota Department of Human Rights in their nearly two-year long investigation into the policing practices of the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.  The investigation resulted in a finding that there is probable cause that the police department engages in a pattern or practice of discriminatory, race-based policing.

Outside of his legal practice, Eric is very involved within Kirkland and the Chicago community.  At Kirkland, Eric is a co-chair of the Chicago Black Affinity Group, and is a member of the Firmwide Diversity & Inclusion Committee, the Chicago Pride Affinity Group, the Chicago Recruiting Committee, and the Chicago Paralegal Review Committee.  In the Chicago community, Eric is a Board Director of Nourishing Hope and an Advisory Board Member of the Northwestern Law Bluhm Legal Clinic.  As a former sixth-grade teacher and Teach For America alum, Eric is also actively involved with Teach For America in Chicago.

Recently, Eric was also recognized as one of the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association’s 2022 40 Best LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40.  

Nana Wilberforce   

Nana Wilberforce is a partner with WilmerHale. She focuses her regulatory and government affairs practice on matters involving antitrust and competition. Ms. Wilberforce has extensive experience navigating clients through the Antitrust Division’s Leniency Program in cartel enforcement matters. She has counseled clients through shifts in competition policy brought on by presidential administration changes and has worked to secure merger clearance for transactions across a range of industries, including healthcare, biotechnology and energy.   

Ms. Wilberforce’s practice includes a commitment to public service and pro bono contributions. She was also selected as WilmerHale’s 2017 Pickering fellow and spent six months working full time with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) and is currently part of the litigation team co-counseled with LDF challenging Georgia’s voting law, S.B. 202. In the past she has worked with Children’s Law Center to represent a client in the successful adoption of the client’s foster child and grandniece and is currently working with The Legal Aid Society on an appellate matter.

Ms. Wilberforce is a member of the Antitrust section of the American Bar Association, a member of the Antitrust, UCL and Privacy section of the California Lawyers Association, and a member of the Military Spouse JD Network.  

Amar J. Williams  

Amar Williams joined the law firm of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson, Gary & Gillespie P.L.L.C. in 2011 and works closely with his father, Senior Partner, Lorenzo Williams.  Amar specializes in personal injury and wrongful death arising from automobile and trucking accidents.  He also has extensive experience litigating medical malpractice matters alongside Partner, Phyllis Gillespie and assisting in commercial trials with of Counsel, Elaine James.  Amar’s legal expertise, both in and out of the courtroom, has earned him numerous settlements in excess of a million dollars including an aviation settlement of 10 million and a multi-million dollar sexual assault settlement alongside Senior Partner, Willie Gary.  

Prior to joining the Firm, Amar worked in the legal department for a major retailer, during which time he was responsible for the employment contracts of campaign models and worked to protect the integrity and authenticity of the retailer’s logo and other trademarks.  Amar also served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Donald L. Graham, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Amar graduated from the University of Miami in 2008 with a degree in International Studies with minors in Art and Business Law.  He then continued on to the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law, where he served as President of the Student Bar Association, a member of the Black Law Students Association, and a legal writing teacher’s assistant to 2Ls and 3Ls.  Upon graduation, he was honored with the University of Pittsburgh Student Leadership Award in 2011. Amar is admitted to practice law in Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, and the District of Columbia.  He is a member of the National Bar Association, Martin County Bar Association, and the Palm Beach County ‘Canes.  When not practicing law, Amar regularly enjoys travelling internationally, spending his time and money on his niece and nephews and cheering his Miami Hurricanes to victory!

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