Honors and Awards

Blank Rome’s Emery Gullickson Richards Honored with Houston Bar Association President’s Award on Behalf of Gender Fairness Committee

HBA Gender Fairness Committee Logo

Blank Rome Associate Emery Gullickson Richards was honored together with the Gender Fairness Committee of the Houston Bar Association (“HBA”) with the President’s Award for Committees. Emery served as co-chair of the Gender Fairness Committee for the 2019‒2020 term, along with Kristin Kruse Lotz and Marissa Marquez, leading the Committee’s mission of empowering women and making the bar more equitable.

“The Gender Fairness Committee worked very hard during the 2019‒2020 term to enhance gender fairness initiatives and awareness in the Houston bar,” said Emery. “The Committee had a knockout year due to the dedicated efforts and passion for advocacy for gender equality among the women and allies who serve on the Committee, the devotion of the staff and leadership of the HBA, and support from organizations in the Houston community committed to its mission, such as Blank Rome.”

In September, the Committee partnered with the Federal Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee to host a panel titled, “Achieving Long-Term Legal Careers for Women by Recognizing & Combating Gender Bias,” calling attention to the groundbreaking research in the American Bar Association’s report on attrition and experiences with inequality among the pool of women needed to remedy the gender imbalance in law firm leadership: Walking out the Door: The Facts, Figures, and Future of Experienced Women Lawyers in Private Practice. A networking luncheon in November featured Monica Blacker, founder of BAX Advisors, presenting, Bold and Accomplished: Effective Self-Promotion Tactics for Women Attorneys, hosted by the Committee to assist women in navigating the annual performance review process and exercising self-advocacy in shaping their career trajectories and overcoming implicit bias. The Committee will host another empowering event for women attorneys on September 29: “Business Development for Women: How to Overcome Obstacles and Thrive,” featuring a panel of respected women rainmakers and moderated by Precious Williams Owodunni of Mountaintop Consulting.

The Committee’s 7th Annual Speed Mentoring event was held in February, where Blank Rome Partners Jeremy Herschaft and Bob Scott served as mentors. The event, founded by Kristin Kruse Lotz, gives 40 women attorneys who are in the early years of practice an opportunity to interact with 40 seasoned practitioners on mentoring topics relevant to their practice and stage of career. This program underscores the important role of mentorship in achieving equal opportunity for women in the law.

Committee efforts led by co-chair Marissa Marquez supported the HBA’s first-ever LGBTQ+ Summit in March, a pioneering convocation of organizations serving LGBTQ+ Houstonians in order to focus on the LGBTQ+ community’s unique legal needs, hosted by the HBA LGBTQ+ Committee in its inaugural year.

Throughout the year, Emery engaged in outreach to Houston legal employers interested in supporting the Committee’s programs and the HBA’s 2018 Gender Fairness Commitment Statement, which asked firms and legal departments to take “concrete action” to “materially increase” their number of women leaders by 2020. Blank Rome was one of the initial signatories to the Statement—which now includes more than 90 participating Houston law firms—with many of Blank Rome’s attorneys and professional staff supporting the outreach and publicity efforts surrounding its launch. 

To assist Houston legal employers in benchmarking their progress toward the Commitment Statement’s goals, the Committee is hosting on June 30 a management briefing videoconference, Practical Tools and Information for Gender Equality in the Legal Profession, co-sponsored by Blank Rome. The event will feature Yale Law Women’s Top Firms for Gender Equity and Family Friendliness Report, in which Blank Rome was again recognized as a Top Firm in 2020; the National Association of Women Lawyers’ Survey on the Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms; and the ABA’s 2020 Model Diversity Survey, to spotlight the importance of their metrics for meaningfully tracking progress toward gender parity and to promote participation in these surveys by Houston law firms. Virtual attendees will be provided with a gender fairness toolkit created by the Committee, including, “Measuring Up: A Resource for Progress toward Gender Equality in Houston Law Firms.”

At Blank Rome, Emery focuses her practice on employment law and commercial litigation. Emery is a member of Blank Rome’s Women’s Forum and Working Parents Forum.