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Timothy Wilkins

Tim leads Freshfields’ global practice on client sustainability. He is the first black partner in the US offices and has pioneered numerous initiatives to support black colleagues and people of color at his firm, including co-founding the Global Black Affinity Network; establishing a 12-year running mentoring program for NYC public high school students to provide college prep and professional experiences with international lawyers; and launching a Diversity Film Series that included a firmwide Black History Month film premier. Tim works to support black and minority ethnic communities more broadly through his board positions with the NYC Economic Development Association (appointed by the Mayor), New York Public Radio (Vice-Chair), and New York Public Theatre (Co-chair of Governance). He also co-founded the New York Circular City Initiative, a program to develop a circular economic system that promotes greater employment and a greener environment for the city, including its less advantaged neighborhoods.

Annette Byron

Annette is the driving force behind Freshfields’ Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme, aiming to address the disproportionate underrepresentation of Black and Black mixed-race men from less privileged backgrounds in large commercial law firms and other City institutions. The scheme brings together Freshfields, big business and universities in a unique initiative, which is run by volunteers from Freshfields and its clients, with more than 130 members contributing to the scheme’s recruitment, development programme and mentoring. Learnings from the scheme have influenced other areas of the firm, including enhanced awareness around unconscious biases, and diversity and inclusion best practices. Beyond the scheme, Annette co-leads Freshfields’ Black Affinity Network, mentors BAME colleagues at the firm and beyond, facilitates discussions with senior leadership, hosts events and is a driver for frank discussions on issues such as reporting on and closing the ethnicity pay gap. Externally, Annette sits on the board of PRIME, the legal sector charity which forms an alliance among law firms committed to improving access to those from less socially mobile backgrounds to the legal profession through work experience. She and the Scheme have been widely cited in the press as innovative and inspiring. Annette supports by charitable donation arts projects that bring on new theatre writing and productions by BAME artists.

Annette Byron

Annette is Co-lead of the Freshfields’ global Black Affinity Network, which by networking and her sharing her experiences as a Real Estate partner has increased awareness in relation to diversity in the organisation. Under her leadership the flagship Freshfields Stephen Lawrence scholarship scheme identifies and, by a bespoke 15-month programme, develops scholars, annually including 160+ Freshfields senior leaders, lawyers and other personnel, evolving organisational culture and challenging unconscious biases by its central place in the business. Externally, her focus on the disproportionate under-representation of black and mixed-race males from low-income families and lack of direct role models in large commercial law firms includes connecting with  60 universities nationally to locate and nominate to the scheme exceptionally-talented first-year students who might fall under the radar.

Timothy Wilkins

In July of 2016, Timothy was selected by Chambers USA as the National Minority Lawyer of the Year in Private Practice.  His practice focuses on cross-border mergers, and prior to moving to New York, Timothy practiced for 8 years in Tokyo.  As co-chair of Freshfields’ Diversity & Inclusion Committee, he pioneered a Diversity Film Series and celebrated his 10th anniversary with Legal Outreach mentoring public high school students.  Timothy is active in several initiatives to broaden diversity outside his firm and has been recognized by Council of Urban Professionals, PureEarth and Global Counsel.  Timothy was featured in the New York Times story, “The Disrupters” (July 31, 2016) which highlighted his role on the Board of the Public Theater and the work of other pioneering African Americans to disrupt the board composition of New York’s major cultural institutions.  For the past 3 years, Timothy has been appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve on the Board of Directors of the NYC Economic Development Corporation where he chairs the Governance Committee.  Timothy is an Adjunct Professor of International Law at Hunter College and a graduate of Harvard College (magna cum laude), Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School.

Nnamdi Emelifeonwu

Since its launch in 2013, Nnamdi has been involved with the Freshfields Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme which addresses under-representation of black men from low-income households in large commercial law firms. Initially a mentor to individual scholars as a trainee and associate solicitor, Nnamdi now acts as the group mentor for all successful scholars on the programme. Outside of the Freshfields Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme, he regularly provides assistance to candidates from BAME backgrounds through informal meetings, reviewing applications or assisting with interview questions. Nnamdi participates in panel discussions targeted at BAME candidates and acts as a mentor to students on various BAME focused programmes (e.g., BSN, SEO London). He actively promotes, and uses his legal background to assist, various businesses focused on achieving positive change for the BAME community.