In an effort to help promote and expand diversity in the legal profession, Shook, Hardy & Bacon has launched The Honorable Jon Gray Lawyers Leadership Academy Program. Named after Shook Partner and former Jackson County Judge Jon Gray, the initiative strives to develop and transition the next generation of ethnically diverse Shook lawyers into firm leaders who will eventually serve key clients.

“We are really excited about this program named after our partner and friend Jon Gray, who exemplifies the best of the profession as lawyer, judge and mentor during his stellar career,” said Shook Chair Madeleine McDonough. “The mentors will include Jon and Shook trial attorneys, along with alumni, friends and clients who are dedicated to diversity and inclusion and improving the legal profession.”

The mentees will benefit from the courtroom experience of Shook’s trial, appellate and class action attorneys and the business acumen of in-house counsel and clients. The program aims to enhance long-term retention and advancement of minority lawyers by providing them the access, tools, and support to become successful partners at Shook.

“We know that diverse legal teams achieve better results for clients. For this reason, clients are increasingly asking for diverse legal teams on their matters,” stated Shook Partners John Lewis, Jr. and Buffy Mims, who co-chair the firm’s diversity initiatives. “Ethnically diverse lawyers at all levels of our firms also aid in recruiting diverse law students and help make the firm a destination for top legal talent.”

The inaugural Lawyers Leadership Academy Program will begin this August and is open to senior associates within three years of partnership. Shook Chair Madeleine McDonough and Partners Rob Adams, John Lewis, Michael Mallow, Buffy Mims and Amir Nassihi will provide strategic overview as task force members and implement the program at the firm. It complements other diversity initiatives at the firm, including the Shook Scholars Institute.

Judge Gray joined Shook in 2007 after more than 20 years of serving as a circuit judge in the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit of Missouri. He has served as chair of the Judicial Counsel of the National Bar Association.



About the Program

The Honorable Jon Gray Lawyers Leadership Academy Program aims to enhance the long-term advancement and retention of minority lawyers by providing them access and tools to become successful Shook partners.

Designed as an 18-month leadership development experience, the Lawyers Leadership Program is open to an inaugural class of six high potential, high performing senior Shook associates within three years of partnership. Candidates will be selected by self-nomination and recommendations made by managing partners throughout the firm.

The Lawyers Leadership Academy will include a one-to-one pairing with a Fellow to build acumen in leadership, executive presence, client facing opportunities and business development, as well as meaningful work building trial practice skills. The faculty and sponsors will include key client relationship partners, marquee trial lawyers, alumni, clients and others working as program stakeholders.