K&L Gates Lawyers Recognized for Diversity Leadership and Legal Accomplishments

10 September 2018

Several K&L Gates LLP lawyers from diverse backgrounds and offices across the K&L Gates platform recently have been honored for individual accomplishments within the legal industry.

K&L Gates Global Managing Partner James Segerdahl stated: “We are delighted to share in celebrating these accomplishments by some of K&L Gates’ diverse lawyers. Although we are at our strongest working together, we are also individuals who strive for excellence in our own careers, which ultimately contributes to the collective success and the rich and diverse narrative of our firm. Our recent achievements on both the individual and organizational levels reflect our firm’s deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, which has long been a key priority for K&L Gates for both its importance to our own firm as well as our clients.”

The accomplishments include:

Nicholas Ranjan, a partner in the Pittsburgh office, has been nominated by the White House for a district judge position on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Ranjan focuses his commercial litigation practice on energy, oil and gas, arbitration, class action defense, and appellate litigation matters. He was also the firm’s 2017 representative to the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) Fellows program.

• Dallas tax partner Cindy Ohlenforst was honored as the 2018 Outstanding Texas tax lawyer by Texas State Bar. Her broad tax practice includes multistate and federal tax issues, including income, sales, franchise, property, hotel, and other taxes, as well as tax-related litigation and legislative projects. She also serves as chairwoman of the firm’s Women in the Profession Committee.

• Portland associate Samuel Hernandez was elected region XVI (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington) president for the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA). Hernandez concentrates his practice on employment law and complex commercial litigation, including mediations, mandatory arbitrations, motions, hearings, and trials in both state and federal courts.

• Seattle labor, employment and workplace safety partner Suzanne Thomas was recognized by Seattle-area business news outlet Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ) and the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) as one of the region’s most influential leaders for equality. She focuses her practice on counseling, representation and litigation, including class action litigation, in areas of employment law, such as discrimination, harassment, wage and hour payment and compliance, hiring, discipline, termination, equal employment opportunity (EEO), privacy rights, trade secrets, non-competition, workforce restructuring, and personnel policies.

• Seattle office managing partner Pallavi Wahi was recognized as one of the Top 100 influential lawyers in the United States by The Business Journals and among the first-ever group of 40 Under 40 All-Stars by the PSBJ. A partner in the firm’s litigation practice, Wahi concentrates her practice on complex commercial litigation with an emphasis on corporate and intellectual property litigation, and also serves as chairwoman of the firmwide Diversity committee and as co-chair of the firm’s India practice.

Kim Askew, a Dallas partner in K&L Gates’ complex commercial litigation and disputes practice, was the inaugural recipient of the Dallas Bar Association’s (DBA) distinguished service award, which will be named the Kim Askew Distinguished Service Award going forward. Askew represents clients in significant employment matters involving claims of race, disability, gender and age discrimination, and sexual harassment and in other business disputes.

Michael Martinez, managing partner of K&L Gates’ Chicago office, was featured in an article on diversity in Chicago Lawyer. Martinez focuses his practice on multi-district class actions and arbitrations involving a wide spectrum of antitrust and complex commercial litigation issues.

• New York corporate partner Willie Dennis was profiled in Savoy magazine as an influential minority leader in the legal industry. He has extensive experience in counseling entrepreneurs, private and publicly traded companies, and private equity, hedge, and venture capital funds across a broad spectrum of legal issues, including mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, securities reporting requirements, corporate governance, and joint ventures.

Shiau Yen Chin-Dennis, a Portland corporate partner, was included in a recent roundtable discussion on women in business hosted by the Portland Business Journal. She focuses her practice on corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, post acquisition integration, joint ventures, restructuring, corporate governance, and other international transactions, with a particular emphasis on international and cross-border matters in the Asia Pacific region.

• Miami complex commercial ligation and disputes partners William Simonitsch and Lee Stapleton were selected among Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite for 2018. Simonitsch was also the firm’s 2012 representative to the LCLD Fellows program and is a National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) past president. Stapleton previously served as the Chief Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

As a firm, K&L Gates has received multiple recognitions in recent months and years for its commitment to opportunities for diverse lawyers, including an August award by longtime client Chevron USA; a seventh Gold Standard Certification from the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF) this June; a seventh consecutive rating as a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality” from the Human Rights Campaign in May; an “Employer of Choice for Gender Equality” certification by the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency; and a designation by Yale Law Women as a “Top Ten Family Friendly Firm.”

The firm also sponsors or participates in a number of diversity-related programs, including Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC), Diversity Council Australia, Equality Campaign Australia, the HNBA, Lambda Law, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, NAPABA, the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), the National Bar Association, the National LGBT Bar Association, and the Stonewall (UK) Global Diversity Champions Program.

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