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 Jeremy Gunn and Abby Yi were recognized in the Lawyers of Color 2023 Hot List, which recognizes junior- and mid-level attorneys working in law firms, companies, and government agencies across the U.S. who show promise in their careers and demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing diversity in the legal profession. Read more here.
- In June 2023, the firm sponsored the Black Women’s Empowerment Brunch hosted by the Equity Alliance. This year’s event brought together more than 600 community leaders, corporate allies, elected officials and Black women from all walks of life. This event began in 2018 to honor the contributions of extraordinary Black women in social, political and business arenas. The Equity Alliance was founded by Sen. Charlane Oliver and Tequila Johnson. Its mission is to empower more women to walk in their power and purpose, while actively participating in crucial elections.
- In June 2023, the firm hosted a fireside chat with Coach Corrinne Tarver, the athletic director and first head coach of Fisk University’s women’s gymnastics program.
- Bass, Berry & Sims was recognized with the Industry Diversity Award from Lawyers of Color for 2023. Only 28 firms nationwide earned this distinction in 2023. Read more here. Attorneys Rhea Shinde, Neerja Razdan and Dee Harleston (pictured left to right in second photo below) attended the Lawyers of Color Diversity Awards reception on May 18 to accept the award on behalf of the firm.
- In April 2023, Juedon Kebede represented the firm at the annual Dining with Donors event hosted by the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
- In March 2023, representatives from the firm’s Memphis office partnered with the Memphis Law Black Law Students Group to volunteer at the Mid-South Food Bank where they sorted food for families, children, and seniors in need.
- Attorney Lillian Blackshear was included in the Lawyers of Color – 2023 Power List, which celebrates the most influential attorneys in the nation. Honorees include general counsel, law firm managing partners, and executive committee members, as well as law school deans and justice organization leaders. Read more here.
- Attorneys Ashley Gholston Fowler and Dee Harleston were selected for inclusion into The National Black Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 in the state of Tennessee and Washington, D.C., respectively, in 2023. 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.
- In February 2023, the firm hosted a fireside chat with Bruce Jackson – author of the book “Never Far From Home” and associate general counsel at Microsoft. Bruce shared his story about overcoming obstacles and struggles to achieve a successful professional legal career. He also stressed the importance of having great mentors and sponsors and talked about his own experiences having a mentor and being a mentor to others.
- 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 Sheaniva 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.
- Bass, Berry & Sims supported our partnership with Fisk University by attending their annual Spring Career Fair in February 2019 and January 2020.
- 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.
- 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.