African-American Affinity Group

The African-American Affinity Group (3AG) was created to serve as a forum for members to exchange ideas and information relevant to their experiences as diverse attorneys. 3AG supports the Bass, Berry & Sims diversity and inclusion initiative by fostering an environment and culture for the personal and professional development of our attorneys.

At Bass, Berry & Sims, we are implementing our affinity groups in a unique way. Rather than have the 3AG group operate in a standalone manner, the group is closely tied to the firm’s leadership and its overall commitment to real progress in diversity and inclusion.

Programs and Activities

The 3AG group actively participates in a number of programs, activities, sponsorships and organizations that benefit the broader community. The group welcomes and supports African-American summer associates, entry-level associates and lateral attorneys, helping them build solid foundations and relationships within the firm and the community.

  • Attorneys Sheaniva Murray, Brianna Powell and Neerja Razdan were recognized in the Lawyers of Color 2022 Hot List, which recognizes early- to mid-career attorneys excelling in the legal profession. Read more here.
  • Attorneys Garrah Carter-Mason and Brianna Powell were selected for inclusion into The National Black Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 in the state of Tennessee in 2022. This honor is given to only the top 40 under 40 African American lawyers in each state or region with reputations for providing excellent legal representation in their respective practice areas. Read details here.
  • The firm sponsored the Annual HBCU Pre-Law Summit and Career Expo on September 16, 2022 at the University of the District of Columbia Student Center. The event was attended by Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Niva Murray and the firm’s Director of Diversity & Inclusion Michele Bendekovic. The summit is the nation’s only major national pre-law event created especially for HBCU students, alumni and high school students interested in law school. Over 1,500 people attended the 2022 summit and career fair.
  • Attorney Lillian Blackshear was named one of the “40 Under 40 Nation’s Best Advocates” award recipients for 2022 by the National Bar Association (NBA). The awards recognize the nation’s top 40 lawyers under the age 40 who exemplify a broad range of high achievement in the legal field, including in advocacy, innovation, vision, leadership and overall legal and community involvement. In addition to being recognized in this 40 Under 40 group, Lillian was recognized with the 2022 40 Under 40 Excellence in Leadership Award honoring an individual who has shown leadership in the legal profession and throughout the community. Read more here.

    Photos from the July 27, 2022 event. Photo on left: Lillian Blackshear with husband Clifton Peay. Photo on right (pictured left to right): Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Gil Uhlhorn, Shannon Wiley, Idena Allen (summer associate), Lillian Blackshear, Neerja Razdan and Al Bright.
  • Bass, Berry & Sims supported our partnership with Fisk University by attending their annual Spring Career Fair in February 2019 and January 2020.

    Fisk career fair
    Maureen Robbins and Michele Bendekovic attend Fisk’s career fair
  • In April 2018, marking the 50th anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bass, Berry & Sims had the honor of hosting Julian Blackshear, Jr., a former student of Dr. King, to commemorate his legacy and fight for equality and human rights.
Julian Blackshear, Jr. and Bass, Berry, & Sims Managing Partner Todd Rolapp at the firm’s event to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy and fight for equality and human rights.
Julian Blackshear, Jr. and Bass, Berry, & Sims Managing Partner Todd Rolapp at the firm’s event to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy and fight for equality and human rights.
  • Hosting the YMCA of Middle Tennessee Black Achievers Group at our office to learn about the legal profession. The Black Achievers program is a college and career exploration and preparation program, focused on encouraging students to find their passions.
  • Since 2008, Bass, Berry & Sims has sponsored a scholarship program at Fisk University assisting two African-American students each year interested in pursuing a legal career.
  • Bass, Berry & Sims regularly hosts the Annual Vanderbilt Black Law Students Association Alumni (BLSA) Reception and Dinner.
  • For many years, Bass, Berry & Sims has sponsored the Julian Blackshear, Jr. Scholarship Gala at the University of Tennessee Law School. The scholarship provides support for African-American law students with financial need.


Al Bright leads the 3AG group.