George B. Vashon Innovator Award

Vashon Innovator Award

The George B. Vashon Innovator Award is presented to companies (not in the Fortune 1000) and/or law firms (less than 500 full-time attorneys) that have led the way with innovative best practices to assist diverse attorneys. It is named for scholar, abolitionist and lawyer George B. Vashon, who was the first licensed African American attorney in New York State (1848) and one of the first admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court (1867).

MCCA will select 2 national winners (1 law firm and 1 corporate legal department) and they will be announced at the Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference on October 15 in New York. The George B. Vashon Innovator Award will be presented to the winning company’s General Counsel or firm’s Managing Partner who will each accept on behalf of their organization. The 2019 Vashon winners will also be profiled in Diversity & the Bar magazine, the official magazine of MCCA.

The finalists will be selected based on a stringent review and scoring of nominee’s efforts in recruitment, retention, promotion and metrics as well as implementation of innovative practices that impact and break the barriers to entry in the legal profession. To see how nominations will be evaluated, download the scorecard templates below.

The 2019 George B. Vashon Award application is now closed.

The scorecard for law firms can be found here.
The scorecard for corporate legal departments can be found here.

About George B. Vashon

About George B. Vashon

George Boyer Vashon was a noted African-American legal scholar and abolitionist. He twice sought admission to practice law in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, but was rejected in both cases because of his race. In October 2010, after Vashon’s great-grandson, Duane Morris Chief Diversity Officer Nolan N. Atkinson, Jr., and others petitioned the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Vashon was officially admitted posthumously to the bar of the courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

As a teenager, alongside his father who was an abolitionist and well-respected leader in the black community, Vashon co-founded the Pittsburgh anti-slavery society in 1838. He attended Oberlin College, where he was the first African-American to receive a bachelor’s degree. After he was denied the right to practice law in Allegheny County, he moved to New York and became the first licensed African-American attorney in that state. Later returning to Pittsburgh, Vashon became a principal at the African-American public school and served as president of Avery College. Vashon moved to Washington, D.C., where he was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and, in 1867, became one of the first black professors at Howard University. Vashon died in Mississippi in 1878 during a yellow-fever epidemic.

2018 George B. Vashon Innovator Winners

2017 George B. Vashon Innovator Winners


2017 George B. Vashon Innovator Finalists

Law Firm Finalists


Corporate Law Department Finalists


Past Honorees List

MCCA is proud to honor and distinguish firms that tried something new and succeeded, whether in recruitment and retention, mentoring, pipeline initiatives, LGBT initiatives, or client inclusion feedback. Click here to view the complete list of our past George B. Vashon Innovator Award honorees.

 Strategic Members 2019

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