Pledging Commitment to Combat Racial Inequality, McDermott Rise is Born


Today, international law firm McDermott Will & Emery launches McDermott Rise, a new offering that each year will provide legal services at no cost to 20 Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) business founders and their leadership teams as they start, scale and grow their ventures. The program is born out of McDermott’s commitment to knocking down unfair barriers faced by people of color and to playing an active role in combatting inequality more broadly.

“We unequivocally condemn injustice and are putting ‘our money where our mouth is’ by doing what we do best – providing world-class legal counsel,” said Ira Coleman, Chairman of McDermott. “Systemic racism has long hindered business owners of color from achieving due success, and while we cannot change the past, we can – and will – continue to find ways to create a better future. To our diverse friends and entrepreneurs: We hear you, we see you and we are acting on our word to do more,” he committed.

Through McDermott Rise, a dedicated global team of lawyers will work closely with early-stage and emerging BIPOC-owned companies that have an innovative plan and thoughtful solution to a problem but could use support in launching their venture. Services include legal and business counsel around formation, capitalization, equity compensation, intellectual property protection, employment matters and other areas pertinent to business growth.

“McDermott Rise is just one of the steps McDermott is taking to help bridge the gap of racial inequality and address racial injustice,” explained Marshall E. Jackson, Jr., Health Industry Advisory partner and member of McDermott Rise’s steering committee. “An associate pitched the idea and led the program to fruition alongside several members of the Firm and Firm leadership. I am proud to be part of a firm that listens, jumps into action, and responds with enthusiasm and passion for pushing towards equality and social justice.”

The program’s steering committee also includes Health Industry Advisory Global Chair Eric Zimmerman, Corporate Advisory Global Chair Harris C. Siskind, Digital Health Practice Leader Stephen W. Bernstein, Food and Drug Administration Practice Leader Vernessa T. Pollard and Life Sciences Leader Kristian A. Werling.

“Launching McDermott Rise underscores McDermott’s recognition that it’s time to level the playing field and fuel the missions of innovative BIPOC business leaders,” added McDermott’s Senior Diversity & Inclusion Manager Edith Gondwe. “Combatting racial injustice and forging truly equitable opportunities will take coordinated and sustained effort. We are determined to contribute our very best to these efforts.”

To further propel these emerging businesses, the Firm will tap into its best-in-class global network and resources to connect McDermott Rise members with venture capital firms, private equity funds, incubators, accelerators and management consultancy firms. Additional program benefits include:

  • Up to 25 office and mentoring hours per McDermott Rise member per year without charge, led by program leadership
  • Free access to programs, webinars, conferences, networking events and all sponsored or affiliated programs
  • Free access to Bootcamp Series, seminars, workshops and all live programs
  • Free downloadable form documents such as formation and incorporation documents, employment agreements, non-disclosure agreements, invention assignment agreements and other standard documents
  • McDermott Rise leadership, a dedicated global team of lawyers with expertise in various subject matter areas who will manage the relationships with members

Interested businesses can learn more and apply on our website.

McDermott Rise is one of several Firm initiatives designed to advance racial equality and social justice. The Firm and Firm personnel are also donating to organizations on the front lines of this fight, including Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Southern Poverty Law Center and Equal Justice Works.

A Propos De Nous

McDermott Will & Emery partners with leaders around the world to fuel missions, knock down barriers and shape markets. Our team works seamlessly across practices, industries and more than 20 locations to deliver highly effective—and often unexpected—solutions that propel success. More than 1,200 lawyers strong, we bring our personal passion and legal prowess to bear in every matter for our clients and the people they serve.