Drayton will be first Am Law 50 partner to serve as National Bar Association president
Go-to patent trial lawyer Joseph M. Drayton’s days include guiding many of the nation’s leading tech companies through a broad range of intellectual property and complex commercial matters.
Meet Joe, though, and he will tell you his passion is in moving the dial. Effecting positive and much-needed change across the legal industry is exactly what he does.
His 20-year commitment to the development of all lawyers has positioned him to lead, as incoming president, one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most powerful legal organizations, the National Bar Association (NBA). In August, Drayton will become the first Am Law 50 law firm partner to serve as NBA president.
“Simply put, I am beyond excited to guide the direction of the NBA,” Drayton said. “I’ll be focused on honoring this esteemed organization’s longstanding history while ensuring that it leverages today’s technology to advance further its purposeful agenda.”
This notable milestone might cause some to ask, why now? Are the elite global law firms really making any strides toward becoming more diverse and inclusive? In Cooley’s case, the answer is yes. Drayton attributes such progress to the leadership of Cooley’s CEO, Joe Conroy, and the willingness of the global partnership to stand with him and, without reservation, push diversity and inclusion as a permanent priority that is central to Cooley’s culture. Diversity and inclusion efforts are even directly tied to partner compensation and promotion decisions. The firm’s commitment provides a deep foundation for Drayton’s service at the highest levels of law, and Cooley proudly supports his many critical initia- tives to promote diversity and inclusion, including his imminent leadership of the NBA.
“At Cooley, taking a stand for what is inherently right is the bed- rock of our culture,” Conroy said. “This means leading by example. Joe’s efforts for change in our field have inspired so many of us at Cooley to champion the push for meaningful and enduring progress in diversity and inclusion across our firm and the profession at large.”
Cooley is the top-ranked law firm on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. Fortune also commends it as a Best Work- place for diversity, women, flexibility and parents.
Drayton has been behind many leading NBA initiatives, including its General Counsel Invitational. The Invitational, now in its fourth year, assembles a historic number of black general counsel who share lessons and experiences with in-house lawyers. It has resulted in new black general counsel, maximized legal careers and improved networks of mentors and trusted advisors.
The NBA and its current president have set their sights on Silicon Valley with the aim of strengthening the bond of existing lawyers while encouraging others to transition into the Silicon Valley eco- system. In support, Drayton organized one of the most successful legal programs for black lawyers in the region: “Silicon Valley: Driving Growth and Opportunity for the Black Lawyer.” This program showcased the history and growth of the Bay Area, the role of black lawyers at its inception and the successes of black lawyers working for and with Valley businesses today. The program created a vibrant network of lawyers and entry points for professionals seeking to do business and thrive in this community.
More recently, the NBA has collaborated with Facebook to explore the impact of artificial intelligence and social media on civil rights. The NBA is also exploring the intangibles for continued and increased opportunities and success for women at the top, and will highlight the topic at its annual Mid-Year Conference and Gertrude Rush Awards Dinner scheduled for March 2019.