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:
- Mentorship programs
- Campus recruitment
- Professional development resources
- Programming and events celebrating diverse communities
- Sponsorship of, and participation in, diversity and inclusion organizations, events, and conferences
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:
- After the Summer Associate completes the 1L summer, a $5,000 stipend upon receiving and accepting a 2L Summer Associate employment offer.
- A $10,000 stipend to be paid at the end of the Summer Associate’s 2L summer. The stipend will be awarded only if the applicant commits to a 6-week minimum and regardless if the Summer Associate receives an offer to return as an Associate.
- If the Summer Associate receives and accepts a full-time position with the Firm after graduation, a $10,000 stipend after three months of employment.
For more information, please see the application for the Caplin-Swanson Diversity Fellowship. If you have any questions, please email email@example.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
In celebration of Black History Month, the Firm introduced three initiatives during the month of February 2023. Everyone received a copy of The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs. We hosted a Conservations with Caplin to discuss the book on International Women’s Day. Our kitchens were stock with items from Me and the Bees Lemonade, Symphony Potato Chips, Pipcorn Heirloom Snacks, and Partake Cookies. Lastly everyone received a box of delicious snacks produced by Black-owned businesses. The boxes were put together by POC BOX.
Hosted a Lunar New Year celebration where the Firm gathered to eat traditional food and watch a Lion Dance performance.
- Celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with visit to Mexican Geniuses exhibit featuring Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and displayed works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera around the office.
- Hosted Conversations with Caplin event celebrating Pride Month. Member Trevor Potter and Paul Smith from the Campaign Legal Center spoke about their involvement in landmark gay rights cases and current threats to LGBTQIA+ rights.
- Hosted Conversations with Caplin event celebrating Black History Month. The event featured speaker Ivory Johnson, CFP®, ChFC who discussed the current wealth gap in the African American community, the root causes and potential solutions.
- Hosted Conversations with Caplin event celebrating Native American Heritage Month and Veterans Day where Professor William Meadows at Missouri State presented on American Indian Code Talkers during WWII.
- Celebrated Caplin- Swanson Diversity Fellowship and hosted Conversation with Caplin Event honoring Black History Month. During the event the DEI Committee welcomed speakers from University of Virginia School of Law, Professor Kim Forde-Mazrui and Dean Risa Goluboff in addition to both the Caplin and Swanson families and our inaugural Fellowship recipient.
- Hosted events welcoming Caplin-Swanson Diversity Fellows.
- Elizabeth J. StevensMember
- Shamara R. JamesAssociate
- Nathaniel R. MillerAssociate
- Meghan R. BissMember
- Kirsten BurmesterMember
- Victor A. JaramilloMember
- Lindsay MahanesMarketing & Business Development Manager
- Nawel L. MorenoAttorney & Paralegal Recruitment Manager
- Shahriar M. (Shah) RaafiAssociate
- John W. Riggleman, Jr.Firm Administrator
- Melissa L. WileyMember