Member Groups

Diversity Matters
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Diversity Leadership Council

June 2012, vol. 6, no. 1

E. Lynn Grayson wins Diversity Leadership Award

In recognition of her long-standing, continuing and exceptional commitment to the critical importance of diversity within the Illinois legal community, its judiciary and the Illinois State Bar Association, E. Lynn Grayson is the 2012 winner of the ISBA Diversity Leadership Award. The ISBA Standing Committee on Women & the Law proudly nominated Lynn for the award.

The nomination, written by Nikki Carrion and Letitia Spunar-Sheats, notes that Lynn exemplifies the ideals of the award. “Lynn has raised awareness of the importance of diversity in her professional endeavors and has made a significant contribution to the advancement of diversity within the Illinois legal community. Lynn has and continues to demonstrate a strong and unwavering commitment to these ideals.

“As a partner at the law firm of Jenner and Block, Lynn concentrates in environmental law. Her professional accomplishments speak for themselves. [Some] highlights of her many achievements include being named to the ‘Best Lawyers in America,’ Illinois Super Lawyers, and one of the Top 10 Leading Business Lawyers in Illinois. Lawdragon magazine recently named Lynn to its ‘New Stars, New Worlds’ list of 500 attorneys who are ‘carving the path to the new heights of the legal profession.’ Though clearly outstanding in her field, it is not her legal record alone that makes her the ideal candidate for this award.

“Lynn is a leader in the area of diversity for attorneys. Lynn’s steady vision of the legal profession—one where men and women of all races, religions and sexual orientations can practice in complete parity—makes her eminently qualified for this award. At a time when many choose to simply lament lack of equality in law firms, Lynn identifies the problems and works tirelessly to carve the path to equality in the workplace.

“Lynn’s steadfast advocacy for diverse attorneys has led to improvements within the profession that will continue to yield results for decades. Diversity for attorneys, as well as diversity for law students, will benefit from the programs Lynn has helped to bring to fruition. Her trailblazing work as the inaugural chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Task Force on Diversity shows her deep commitment to the diversity of the bar and especially empowerment of women. The Task Force was initially established in 2007 to focus on efforts to further diversity within the ISBA and the legal profession. To that end, the president of the ISBA appointed Lynn as the chairperson of the new task force in order to bring forth the vision for a more diversified legal profession. Lynn’s vision of a diverse, coordinated state bar association led to many recommendations which were ultimately implemented within the ISBA. These recommendations included the Diversity Pipeline Initiative, which supports improved educational opportunities for diverse students and encourages them to enter the legal profession. Even after her time as chair of the task force, Lynn continued her work as a member of the Diversity Leadership Council, another outgrowth of the task force.

“At her law firm, Lynn is chair of Jenner and Block’s Women’s Forum, an organization dedicated to fostering professional, social and personal growth opportunities for all women attorneys. Lynn is also a member of the firm’s diversity committee. Yet her commitment to advancing diversity in the profession goes significantly beyond the walls of Jenner and Block. Lynn was a founding member of the Chicago Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law and was a member of its board from 2008 to 2011. Lynn was also the first recipient of the Chicago Bar Association’s Alta May Hulett Award for her contributions to the advancement of women, and was awarded the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois’ Women with Vision Award in 2009. Truly, if there is an effort to bring attention to the advancement of diverse attorneys, Lynn’s name is almost certain to emerge.

“E. Lynn Grayson has the vision to see the future of any group fortunate enough to have her as a member. She identifies and guides other diverse individuals to assume leadership roles to ensure that other diverse attorneys have the opportunity to lead. Countless diverse individuals and attorneys have benefited from the formal and informal mentoring provided by Lynn. There are countless diverse individuals and attorneys who may not know Lynn personally but have benefitted from the work she has done and the work she continues to do in the advancement of diversity in the legal profession, the legal community and the ISBA. When a diverse attorney reaches out to Lynn for guidance, support or help, she is there to lend a hand.

“Although there are many outstanding publications relevant to her practice as an environmental attorney, her prolific writing also includes many articles relating to the advancement of diversity among attorneys. Lynn truly recognizes that the education of our profession about the issue of professional equality is essential to achieving that goal.

“Lynn’s support for the advancement of women, people of color, the disabled and persons of various sexual orientations in the legal profession makes her eminently qualified for this award.”

Lynn is the second winner of the Diversity Leadership Award. The award was first presented to the Hon. George Leighton in 2010.