The Next Gen Leadership: Advancing Lawyers of Color is excited to announce its members of the Advisory Board. The board of advisors, which is diverse by generation and communities of color, in terms of employment in different segments of the industry and in geographic region across the US, will shape the future direction of the digital content and serve as a focal point to determine how the initiative can greater influence the advancement of diverse attorneys of color.
These are the members of NGL: ALC Advisory Board:
Bryan Browning, Shareholder at Bassford Remele based in Minneapolis, came into his career in law a little unexpectedly, he says. His story starts with the fact that is not unique to the Latino community: He was the first person in his family to graduate college and earn a law degree.
As a kid, he pictured himself working in a blue collar job alongside his dad; but as he moved into his early teen years, he recalls feeling “directionless” — a commonality among attorneys of color. Still determined, Bryan connected with the mentorship program of the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association (MHBA), which helped him navigate this journey through law school.
Eventually, Bryan became the first Latino partner in his firm’s 136-year history.
Traci Bransford, Partner at Stinson Leonard Street, is currently an entertainment and sports attorney, but her career path has taken her across the US more than once and shifted her areas of practice from litigator to transactional attorney.
Indeed, she graduated from law school at NYU, worked in Los Angeles as a litigator during the times of the OJ Simpson case and the death of Tupac Shakur, doing work on police misconduct, criminal defense and family law cases. While working in California, she pivoted to entertainment and sports law; and now, she centers her practice in this area while based out of Minneapolis.
Bransford has been at Stinson for five years and was the first African-American female partner based in the Minneapolis office.
Fatima Garcia is an International Tax Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) who started her legal career in Fall 2017. To get to where she is today, however, she had to dig deep to overcome several challenges from almost being dismissed from college twice because of a lack of financial aid to dealing with a cancer scare in her final year of law school.
Read more about How Perseverance Was Critical to Fatima Garcia’s Success.
Jill Louis is a partner in the Corporate practice at K&L Gates who said she originally thought she would follow in her mother’s footsteps as a journalist, so she majored in broadcast journalism at Howard University.
But after some consideration, Louis chose corporate law intentionally because she did not see many African-American women in the practice when she began 28 years ago.
Read more about the Advice that Jill Louis Gives Lawyers of Color.
Athena Fan is a female tech founder, building a consumer-facing legal tech company, Bite Size Legal. She is a J.D. alumna of the American University Washington College of Law with a focus on intellectual property and trade law.
Prior to law school, she worked at an internet back-bone company in Silicon Valley, and was assistant manager of a company that helped businesses authenticate documents according to the Hague Convention on Private International Law.
Sebastian Sanchez, a senior associate at White & Case, persevered to earn his way into Big Law. While growing up in Puerto Rico, he credits his parents and sister for the discipline and rigor he gave to his studies and for the social and community values they instilled in him.
After graduating from Harvard University, he worked at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) there, where he enjoyed collaborating with academics and students who were devoted to the study of Latin America and the Latino community.
After completing his law school at the University of Puerto Rico, Sebastian decided to choose an uncommon legal career path for most young Puerto Rican attorneys — one in corporate law rather than the more common path of becoming a litigator.
Amy Hanna Keeney
Amy Hanna Keeney is Special Counsel at Adams and Reese, in Atlanta, as well as a litigator and a regulatory counselor. Her practice in the Financial Services and Data Privacy sectors. As a woman from a Middle Eastern background, Amy had difficulty early in her career finding her place and is excited to influence the direction of the Advisory Board as a platform to share what she has learned as well as learn from other diverse attorneys across the industry.
As a lawyer from a Thai background, Chris Sukhaphadhana — most recently Senior Counsel of Patents, at Mattel, based in Los Angeles — hopes to leverage is Advisory Board membership to expand engagement with Thai students who may be considering a career in the law, and more broadly, grow opportunities for Asian-Pacific Americans to advance to the senior-most ranks of the legal industry.
Chris is “an accidental lawyer” in his words. After earning his undergraduate degree in engineering, he was exposed to patent law. After he graduated, he took a position at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and the possibility of a legal career started to open up as a viable path.
Read more about how Chris Sukhaphadhana Wants to Expand Thai Voices Within the Legal Profession
Gary Zhao, Partner at SmithAmundsen, joined the Advisory Board of the Next Gen Leadership: Advancing Lawyers of Color (NGL-ALC) initiative to help educate legal employers on how best to recruit, retain, and promote Asian American lawyers.
He shared with us how he acquired “thousands of hours of litigation experience”, how he used the local bar association for business and professional development, and what he thinks legal employers need to do to better retain lawyers of color.
Read more about Gary Zhao’s Discussion on the Importance of Diverse Bar Associations for Career Advancement