When Brandon Vaughn began his career as an attorney in 2008, he had at least one advantage over many of his African American peers. His father, a Chicago attorney who had his own law firm, clued him in on some of the hurdles he might face as a Black attorney in a predominantly white field, and how he could succeed in spite of them.
When he attended law school at the University of Wisconsin, Vaughn’s father helped him understand some of the requisites and nuances needed to succeed — “knowing the correct courses to take, understanding how law firms work and how to survive and thrive in a law firm setting that is predominantly white … how to appropriately study to do well and have requisite credentials to be competitive for some of the premium jobs.”
“Taking courses that help prepare you for passing the bar exam is important, but also being focused on taking courses you are interested in to give you the opportunity to do well. He really encouraged me to take practical courses I would use in my practice, rather than focusing on more academic or theoretical areas; participating in law school clinics where you are working with potential clients or directly with judges, so you can see the law in application.”
Following the death of George Floyd in 2020, Vaughn was instrumental in the firm’s establishment of a Black firm member group, to address issues specifically related to African Americans, as well as to increase their representation throughout the firm.
Vaughn is also proud of an initiative he helped found several years ago, along with a number of his African American colleagues from around the country: the Black in Big Law Pipeline. Its purpose is to develop training for Black lawyers at large national firms “to give them the tools to successfully navigate law firm politics and culture, and advance.”
Vaughn has been an active member of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice since 2008, currently serving on the board. He has also been working on a committee with Mitchell Hamline Law School to develop a pipeline program with minority and first generation college students to explore careers in law, the Gateway Program.
Like this article? Gain access to all of our great content with a month-to-month subscription. Start your subscription here.