Baker • Wotring LLP’s core DNA is built on diversity and inclusion. As a nationally-certified woman and minority-owned law firm, our ability to provide opportunity and education to the bar, the public and our clients about the business case for diversity, gender fairness and inclusion is unique in that we live it every day. We are grateful to our clients who share our commitment and partner with us. We hope that our status as a successful MWBE law firm will educate others about the value of diverse legal teams and create even more opportunities for diverse lawyers and law firms like ours.
The Firm's diverse status has been vetted and accepted into NAMWOLF (National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms), WBENC (Women's Business Enterprise National Council), and NMSDC (National Minority Supplier Development Council). Baker • Wotring LLP is also a City of Houston certified minority business enterprise and a State of Texas Historically Underutilized Business (HUB). Our Firm has long been at the forefront of commitment to diversity and inclusion in the local and national legal community for our extensive work in fostering diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
Nationally, our Firm’s attorneys have teamed with prominent diversity organizations such as the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, appearing on national stages alongside corporate innovators in the field of gender diversity, including Chief Legal Officers from Microsoft, the Gap, Coors Brewing Company and Del Monte, to advocate, educate and advance the cause for inclusion, gender fairness and diversity in legal teams used by America’s largest corporations. Locally, Baker • Wotring LLP actively continues its leadership role in diversity education by teaming with organizations such as the Houston Chapter of the American Corporate Counsel Association, where the Firm has served as the organization’s Diversity Sponsor, funding scholarships for minority law students in Houston law schools since 2017. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also appointed Managing Partner Debra Tsuchiyama Baker to serve as co-chair of his transition team which devoted many months to developing policy recommendations for the Mayor on a wide variety of issues and recommended reform, including key issues regarding opportunities for diversity and minority advancement initiatives in the City of Houston. Most recently in 2018, the Association of Women Attorneys Foundation recognized Managing Partner Debra Tsuchiyama Baker with the prestigious Premier Women in Law award for her decades of work as an activist of gender and minority inclusion and equality. In 2019, she was awarded the Texas Lawyer Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award for her contributions to the legal profession in Texas and beyond.
The State Bar of Texas has also recognized Debra’s efforts in gender fairness by awarding her the Ma’at Justice Award given to an individual who has actively addressed the needs and issues of women in the legal profession in the community. State Bar of Texas President Eduardo Rodriguez appointed Debra to his President’s Task Force on Hiring, Retention and Promotion of Minority and Women Attorneys where she analyzed issues pertaining to legal advancement of minority and women attorneys in the for the State Bar, devising and recommending a methodology for researching and quantifying the progress of minority and women attorneys in the Texas legal community.
Our Firm’s outreach, programs and initiatives are singularly focused on efforts to continuously educate the bar, practitioners and the public on the importance of gender equality, diversity, minority inclusion and fairness in the legal profession. As one of the first chairs of the Houston Bar Association’s Gender Fairness Committee, Debra implemented a program in which she personally met with over 35 male managing partners in Texas’ largest law firms to identify and codify gender-based “best practices” to be implemented by law firms to address the issue of retention of women in the work force, flexible work arrangements, part-time partnership and other innovative ideas at the time. Together with other influential women lawyers in Texas, she co-authored a pivotal report commissioned by the State Bar of Texas to address issues of hiring, retention and promotion of women and minority attorneys in law firms.
The Firm and its lawyers have been key participants for decades in underwriting and generating funds for law-related charities devoted to seeking justice for women as founders of the Night Court project -- Lawyers Entertaining for Charity – a 501(c)(3) organization. This past year, Debra Baker’s 30 years of acting, producing and writing Houston’s annual all-lawyer charitable Night Court show culminated in that project reaching its record-setting goal of raising more than one million dollars for law-related charities devoted to seeking justice for women and children, including the Tahirih Justice Center, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse and the Houston Area Women’s Center, just to name a few.
Examples of just some of the gender, diversity and inclusion initiatives that we undertake as part of our continued commitment to educate and advance the business case for inclusion of women, minorities and diverse attorneys in the legal profession include:
- New Strategies for Diversity and Inclusion - American Corporate Counsel Diversity and Inclusion. Firm underwriter for minority and diversity scholarships, American Association of Corporate Counsel Diversity Group.
- The Importance of Diversity in the Workplace. The Firm’s lawyers underwrite and appear at programs with prominent Houstonians including Mayor Sylvester Turner and County Commissioner Rodney Ellis to educate groups regarding the value and importance of diversity in the workplace.
- Texas Young Lawyers Minority Mentoring Program. Mentor and networking for minority law students preparing to graduate and enter into the legal profession.
- Gender Fairness Mentor. Mentor for Houston Bar Association Speed Mentoring Events to provide advice to young attorneys on business development, networking and work-life balance.
- Women in Court. Featured attorneys at South Texas College of Law Texas Women Lawyers CLE regarding Women lawyers who appear in Court, including screening and commentary of Sundance Film Festival selected documentary "Miss Representation" regarding the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America.
- Cover Story, Diversity & The Bar magazine. Featured on magazine cover and in accompanying story Lawyers Shine in MCCA's Broadway-Style Revue in Minority Corporation Counsel Association publication highlighting progress of diversity in law firms.
- Matching Expectations with Gender Relations, Authored Texas Bar Journal, Focus on Diversity Column, for State Bar Journal addressing the issue of expectations of new lawyers as those come into play with the issue of retention of female attorneys.
- Program Leader Implementing First Houston Bar Association Gender Fairness Task Force Standing Committee. As the first Co-Chair of this new Standing Committee on Gender Fairness, devised and implemented gender fairness task force surveys sent to over 50 law firms and corporate law departments to evaluate progress with HBA’s Gender Fairness Commitment initiative. Implemented program with 35 law firm managing partners and corporate General Counsel to identify best practices, most current “hot topics” regarding gender fairness issues, and to educate membership regarding progressive and innovative in-house and law firm programs.
- Special Presentation with MCCA and Chief Legal Officers of Nation’s largest Corporations to Perform Broadway-Style show in New York and San Francisco to highlight legal gender and diversity issues in the bar. Performed 20-minute Broadway-style theatrical show in multiple cities, in an innovative use of theatre, song and dance to highlight progress of gender and minority diversity issues in law firms to an audience of over 1,500 outside law firms and corporate counsel.
- Co-Author of State Bar of Texas Report on Hiring, Retention and Promotion of Minority and Women Attorneys in Large and Medium Size Law Firms and Corporations. Co-author of report commissioned by the State Bar of Texas which compiled information about current practices and contained proposals and recommendations to the State Bar to implement programs to address issues facing minority and women attorneys.
- Board of Directors – Asian American Bar Association. The AABA Board coordinates continuing legal education, charitable opportunities and programs to address the needs of Houston’s Asian American Community.
- Gender Fairness - Four Years Later. Authored Houston Lawyer Magazine report of survey results from 50 of Houston’s largest law firms and corporate law departments, addressing the state of affairs on gender fairness and the role of bar associations in gender fairness issues.
- “The Collective Power of Women” Program focusing on mentoring opportunities for minority businesswomen on diversity issues and advancement for professionals.
- State Bar of Texas Appointment to President’s Task Force on Hiring, Retention and Promotion of Minority and Women Attorneys. Appointment by State Bar of Texas President Eduardo Rodriguez to Special Task Force commissioned to analyze issues pertaining to legal advancement of minority and women attorneys in the State of Texas. Assisted in devising methodology for researching and quantifying progress of minority and women attorneys in the Texas legal community.
- Minority Counsel Program Steering Committee Member. The Steering Committee members of this State Bar of Texas program procure the participation of corporations and government agencies to provide interviewing opportunities for minority and women lawyers in an annual two-day CLE and networking program in an effort to bolster the amount and significance of legal work obtained by minority and women lawyers. The Steering Committee also designs and participates in the CLE portion of the program which seeks to provide tools and techniques for enhancing the employment and economic opportunities for minority and women attorneys throughout the State of Texas.
- “Balancing Work and Family – The Myth of the Supermom.” Houston Bar Association Gender Fairness Program, focusing upon work/life balance in law firm and corporate law department environments.
- 2006-2007, Vice Chair, State Bar of Texas Standing Committee on Women in the Profession. Assist the State Bar in assessing the status of women in the legal profession, identifying and developing educational programs of benefit to women and making recommendations to the State Bar Board of Directors to address issues particular to women lawyers.
- “Advertising, Marketing and Cross-Referring Ethically.” State Bar of Texas Minority Attorney Program focusing upon ethics issues in connection with advertising, marketing and case referrals, with a particular emphasis upon law firm business development activities for minority lawyers.
- “Investing in Diversity” Minority attorney presentations at the State Bar of Texas Minority Counsel Program entitled Investing in Diversity, focusing upon methods in which the formation of partnering concepts and strategic alliances for women and minority lawyers can facilitate rain-making opportunities and law firm advancement.
- “Successful Strategies for Minority and Women Rainmakers,” Featured Speaker at American Bar Association Annual Meeting, identifying techniques for marketing and business development for minority and women attorneys.
- “Flexible Work Arrangements,” Presentation to Houston Bar Association Gender Fairness Conference highlighting evolving trends and opportunities for non-traditional and/or flexible work arrangements and related issues.