McGuireWoods has been named a finalist for Pro Bono Program of the Year and Veterans Program of the Year in Chambers and Partners’ Diversity & Inclusion Awards: North America 2020. In addition, partner Candace Ali Blydenburgh is a finalist for Outstanding Diversity & Inclusion Contribution; partner George Keith Martin is on the shortlist for Diversity & Inclusion Lawyer of the Year; and partner John Thompson is a candidate for Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year.
The annual awards honor the achievements of firms and individuals for furthering the advancement of diversity and inclusion across the United States and Canada. Winners will be announced Sept. 24 in a virtual awards ceremony.
“We know that a diverse and inclusive culture not only enriches our experience, but enables us to deliver better solutions for our clients,” said firm chairman Jonathan Harmon. “This recognition reflects our commitment to this core value.”
Blydenburgh is a finalist for Outstanding Contribution for her efforts to advance diversity and inclusion in the firm, the legal profession and the community. A partner based in Richmond, Virginia, she chairs McGuireWoods’ African American Lawyers Network and plays key roles in other firm diversity initiatives including the Diverse Associates Leadership Program, which helps prepare midlevel associates of color and LGBTQ+ associates for advancement to the firm’s partnership ranks. She also serves on the Board of Governors for the Virginia State Bar Diversity Conference.
Martin, managing partner of the firm’s Richmond, Virginia, office, is a finalist for Diversity & Inclusion Lawyer of the Year. He has been a tireless advocate for diversity and inclusion at McGuireWoods and held community and state leadership roles, including his tenure as the first African American rector of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. In 2019, he served on the executive committee that helped organize programs for the Commemoration of the First African Landing in Hampton, Virginia, where the first enslaved African men and women were brought to the English colonies 400 years earlier. He also served on the 400 Years of African American History Commission.
Thompson, a partner in Washington, D.C., played a major role securing passage of the Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need (HAVEN) Act, a 2019 law that helps U.S. military veterans shield disability and other Veterans Administration benefits in bankruptcy proceedings. Thompson leads McGuireWoods’ Veteran Lawyers Network (VLN), which worked closely with the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Veterans Task Force and McGuireWoods Consulting’s federal government relations team to help shape the bipartisan legislation and assist in its passage and enactment.
McGuireWoods was shortlisted for Pro Bono Program of the Year for its leadership on the HAVEN Act and for numerous initiatives to provide critical legal assistance to low-income and underserved communities. The VLN’s work also earned the firm a place on the shortlist for Veterans Program of the Year.