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November 5, 2015
Joseph K. West to Join Duane Morris as Co-Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer and Trial Partner
President/CEO of Minority Corporate Counsel Association Adds Corporate and Diversity Experience to International Firm
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 5, 2015—Duane Morris LLP is pleased to announce that Joseph K. West is joining the firm as a partner in the Trial Practice Group in its Washington, D.C. office. West, who is currently President and CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) in Washington, D.C., will also become Duane Morris’ Co-Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. West will join Duane Morris partner Nolan Atkinson, Jr. in leading the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and will then succeed Atkinson as the firm’s Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer in May 2016. West will officially join Duane Morris in January 2016.
“We are excited to welcome Joe to the firm,” said Duane Morris Chairman and CEO John J. Soroko. “His proven track record driving successful major initiatives, both with MCCA and previously with Walmart and Entergy, will strengthen both our Trial Practice Group and the firm as a whole. Most importantly, Joe’s appointment ensures that our very important diversity and inclusion efforts will continue and will remain a very central part of our firm culture far into the future.”
“My time at MCCA has been incredibly fulfilling, both personally and professionally,” said West. “I look forward to continuing to support and champion MCCA in its mission to push for greater diversity and inclusion in the legal community, even as I take on the tremendous opportunity presented by Duane Morris.”
West added, “I look forward, as well, to the chance to focus on further developing my litigation practice. Duane Morris was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. The collaborative culture and support system at Duane Morris made it the right choice for me.”
“When Joe became CEO, he promised to strengthen the reach, effectiveness and impact of MCCA,” said Michelle Banks, chairperson of MCCA and EVP, global general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer of Gap Inc. “Over the course of his tenure, with the help of his team and our board of directors, he did exactly that, thus ensuring that we will continue to lead the legal profession from a clear position of strength. We cannot thank Joe enough for his tireless efforts and many accomplishments, all of which have greatly benefitted MCCA.”
“I know first-hand that Joe brings elite litigation skills and broad experience as a national leader on diversity and inclusion issues,” said Marcus Brown, executive vice president and general counsel at Entergy. “During his time at Entergy, he honed those talents to a fine point and it’s been a pleasure to watch him continue to cultivate his skills. I look forward to seeing the results of his work at Duane Morris.”
West has served as President and CEO of MCCA since 2011, nearly tripling membership in the organization during his tenure. At MCCA, West created a number of programs focused on expanding opportunities for minority lawyers and women, notably the MCCA Academy for Leadership and Inclusion, a training program for corporate law departments and member firms created to identify and help eliminate obstacles to inclusion in the profession. He established a quarterly webinar/lecture series, as well as the MCCA Exchange and MCCA Blueprint programs, each focused on attorney skills and business development.
West has more than 20 years of experience as both in-house and outside counsel for Fortune 500 companies. Before joining MCCA, he was associate general counsel at Walmart Stores, Inc., serving as head of the outside general counsel management group. In that role, West oversaw more than 600 law firms and a budget of over $300 million, and he was responsible for setting rates, managing the conflict-of-interest process and overseeing firm compliance globally. He also served in Walmart’s Class Action Division, where he helped manage complex litigation, including the largest class action matter in history. Among other innovative measures, West revamped the company’s outside counsel guidelines to make them more efficient and introduced value-based billing practices, resulting in significant savings for the company.
West also helped utilize Walmart’s outside counsel spend to facilitate the department’s diversity and inclusion goals and is widely recognized as being at the forefront of the business case for diversity. In addition, he made Walmart one of the initial signatories to the Inclusion Initiative with the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF). In 2009, Walmart was awarded NAMWOLF’s Outstanding Advisory Council Member Award.
Prior to his role at Walmart, West was assistant general counsel at Entergy Corporation, a Fortune 250 Utility Company based in New Orleans, where he handled numerous high-profile trials. Both at Entergy and in private practice, he had first chair responsibility in a broad range of litigation matters and has tried more than 200 cases to verdict.
In 2014, West was awarded both the Beacon of Diversity Award from the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association and the Louis L. Redding Lifetime Achievement Award from the Delaware Barristers Association. The Washington Business Journal honored him with its 2014 Minority Business Leader Award. In 2013, West was named to the Power 100 list of the nation’s most influential minority attorneys by Lawyers of Color, Inc. and was named a CUP Catalyst by the Council of Urban Professionals on its inaugural 2012 list. In 2010, he was named In-House Counsel of the Year by the National Bar Association. After Hurricane Katrina, West was cited by ABC and NBC for the personal care he extended to patients stranded at Methodist Hospital in New Orleans.
West was appointed by American Bar Association (ABA) President Paulette Brown to the ABA Commission on Diversity and Inclusion 360, is a member of the ABA Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education and has served on the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. He is also a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s ACC Value Challenge Steering Committee. West formerly served on the Arts Council of New Orleans and the Walton Arts Center Corporate Leadership Council; additionally, former Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco appointed him to chair the Louisiana State Museum Board.
West is a 1986 graduate of Tulane Law School and earned his B.A. in journalism from Southern University. He has served as an adjunct professor of trial advocacy at Tulane Law School.
About Duane Morris
Duane Morris LLP, a law firm with more than 700 attorneys in offices across the United States and internationally, is asked by a broad array of clients to provide innovative solutions to today’s legal and business challenges.
About the Diversity & Inclusion Program at Duane Morris
Duane Morris manages its diversity and inclusion program with the objective of utilizing the best talent worldwide in solving legal problems. The firm recruits a diverse pool of lawyers that collectively develops solutions for clients on cutting-edge issues—legal, social and economic. Because diversity management is integral to the firm’s core business and practice groups—including recruitment, retention and promotion of minority groups—the firm commits extraordinary resources to its success.