Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not new concepts at Caplin & Drysdale. We attribute our success to building and fostering an inclusive culture that celebrates diverse ideas, social identities, and experiences. That culture strengthens the quality of services we provide our clients. The Firm is committed to attracting, retaining, and promoting diverse attorneys and professionals, and creating opportunities for those diverse members of our Firm to grow, thrive, and lead.

Our Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee strengthens this commitment to mentor and sponsor diverse lawyers and create programming that highlights the stories and experiences of diverse communities.

As part of our mission to foster a diverse workplace, we offer the Caplin-Swanson Diversity Fellowship to a diverse 1L student that meets certain eligibility criteria (as discussed further below). The recipient of the Fellowship receives a stipend in addition to standard summer associate compensation.

In addition to the Fellowship, the Firm’s ongoing DE&I commitments and efforts include:

Outreach and Partnership

We are supporters and signatories of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA), and other established and emerging organizations advancing diversity. We welcome future partnerships and collaboration with other organizations aligned with our principles and commitment to diversity

A History of Championing Diversity

Caplin & Drysdale historically has fostered a culture of inclusivity. In 1949, Mortimer Caplin, one of our founders, successfully rallied the University of Virginia School of Law faculty to admit Gregory Swanson as its first Black student. Mr. Swanson’s case helped lay the foundation for Brown v. Board of Education

In the 1980s, our attorneys were among some of the first openly gay lawyers in Washington, D.C. Over the past decades, women attorneys have assumed leadership positions at every level. The firm’s current president, Ann McMillan, is the third woman elected to hold the top leadership position.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are integral to our future. Caplin & Drysdale understands the investment needed to retain top-performing diverse professionals, and strives to provide the mentorship, culture, and work-life balance these professionals deserve and require.

The Caplin-Swanson Diversity Fellowship

Every year the Firm selects a 1L fellow to participate in our Summer Associate program. In addition to receiving regular Summer Associate compensation, a fellow will receive:

For more information, please see the application for the Caplin-Swanson Diversity Fellowship.  If you have any questions, please email fellowship@capdale.com.


Caplin Swanson History

In the fall of 1949, while Mr. Caplin was a law professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, Gregory Swanson, a Black man who had recently graduated from Howard University, applied to the all-white southern law school. Having experienced discrimination on the basis of his faith, Mr. Caplin understood the value of diversity and fiercely advocated for Mr. Swanson’s admission even though he knew speaking up was risky.

Mr. Caplin garnered the support of the entire law school faculty, which unanimously decided to offer Mr. Swanson admission to the law school even though the University’s Board of Visitors had directed that no Black student be admitted without its approval. When the Board of Visitors later rejected the decision of the law school faculty, Mr. Swanson filed a complaint against the university. In the end, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Mr. Swanson’s admission.

Mr. Swanson’s admission to the University of Virginia helped lay the foundation for Brown v. Board of Education. Over the next few years, Mr. Caplin organized efforts within the small southern community to circumvent the intense and massive resistance campaigns following the decisions of both Swanson v. Rector & Visitors of Univ. of Va. and Brown v. Board of Education. Mr. Caplin’s spouse, Ruth Sacks Caplin (who later became an accomplished screenwriter) helped organize makeshift classrooms in neighborhood homes to teach children in defiance of local authorities who closed public schools after Brown.

In 1961, while serving as Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Caplin offered Mr. Swanson a position as an IRS attorney. Mr. Swanson would work as an IRS attorney until his retirement in 1984. The University of Virginia School of Law created the Gregory H. Swanson Award in 2018 in honor of his legacy at the university.

Recent Events & Programs


  • Nawel L. Moreno
    Attorney & Paralegal Recruitment Manager
  • Meghan R. Biss
    Member
  • Shahriar M. (Shah) Raafi
    Associate
  • Victor A. Jaramillo
    Member
  • Kirsten Burmester
    Member
  • Shamara R. James
    Associate
  • Lindsay Mahanes
    Marketing & Business Development Manager
  • Nathaniel R. Miller
    Associate
  • John W. Riggleman, Jr.
    Firm Administrator
  • Elizabeth J. Stevens
    Member
  • Melissa L. Wiley
    Member
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