Richmond, VA (June 17, 2021) — The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) is pleased to announce the winners of its seventh annual Rick Palmore LCLD Alumni Award: Demetra Liggins, a partner in the Business Finance and Restructuring department at Thompson & Knight in Houston, TX, and Kevin Gooch, a partner in the Financial Services department at Holland & Knight in Atlanta, GA.
Named for LCLD’s founder, the Rick Palmore LCLD Alumni Award recognizes the outstanding achievements, commitment, and leadership of Alumni who have left a lasting impact on their legal communities and the profession at large. This is the highest honor in the 3,200-member LCLD Alumni community.
Each year, candidates are nominated by LCLD Alumni and Members, with the award-winners chosen by a committee of their peers.
Rick Palmore presented Liggins and Gooch with their awards at the 2021 LCLD Alumni Virtual Leadership Symposium on Thursday, June 17, 2021.
“Demetra and Kevin are fierce advocates for the advancement of the next generation of diverse legal leaders,” said Robert Grey, President of LCLD. “They are true trailblazers who step up to spearhead initiatives that raise awareness and drive cultural change in the legal profession. I continue to be impressed by them both for all they do and all that they have become.”
A 2012 LCLD Fellow, Demetra Liggins has served in several leadership positions within and beyond her firm aimed toward the advancement of diverse attorneys. She focuses on minority recruitment through her participation in Thompson & Knight’s Strategic Lateral Hiring Committee, as well as broader diversity initiatives by serving on the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee for nearly ten years.
She is also an active participant in the Lawyer Development Committee and Women’s Initiative Sponsor Board, and leads the firm’s Black Lawyer Affinity Council, which provides support, networking and leadership opportunities for its African American attorneys.
In June of 2017, Liggins and her twin sister founded Corporate Homie, an organization that helps women and minorities “perform with purpose” in corporate America by honing their leadership abilities, team building skills, and professional development through resources and events. The sisters also host the Corporate Homie podcast, which provides tips and tangible, real world examples of how minorities can thrive in the corporate workplace. Over the last four years, they have recorded 134 podcasts on topics including mental health, networking, workplace relationships and environments, and more, which has been especially useful for first-generation professionals.
Liggins has chaired the Minorities Opportunities in the Legal Profession and the Minority Affairs Committee for the Houston Young Lawyers Association, is a member of the Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee, and the Immediate Past Houston Network Chair of the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation.
Liggins tirelessly promotes LCLD and the opportunities the organization offers up and coming lawyers. Serving as the Southern Regional Director in 2018-2019, she worked to increase LCLD membership among non-law firm organizations based in Texas and worked with LCLD to target companies, law firms and other organizations to join LCLD. She has been a highly rated speaker for LCLD’s Pathfinder and 1L Scholars Program for several years and has spoken at the LCLD 1L Diversity Summit for the past five years. She also serves as an ongoing mentor to LCLD Scholars, and actively offers LCLD Alumni in and beyond her firm for legal work and speaking and branding opportunities.
“I am honored to be recognized with this award. Now, more than ever before, moving actions forward to bring true equity and inclusion to the profession is critical. I am proud to do my part to advance the cause,” said Liggins. “Rick Palmore has set the bar high for diversity advocacy in the legal industry. I’m inspired to work towards the vision he’s outlaid for the LCLD community.”
Kevin Gooch, a 2015 LCLD Fellow, has also made great strides for diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession. Named one of the “500 Most Influential Atlantans” by Atlanta Magazine this year, Gooch is widely known for his advocacy in the city’s community.
Gooch recently wrapped up a two-year term as Chairman of the Board of 100 Black Men of Atlanta Inc., a 35-year old organization that supports African American youths through mentorship, character development, academic support, career readiness and community service. As the group’s youngest chairman since its founding in 1986, Gooch has implemented various initiatives including the Career Pipeline program, a ten-week professional development program for college students, a virtual Career Discovery Day, 100 Reads, an Entrepreneurs Training program and a Legal Guild to build a pipeline of diverse attorneys. One of the most popular programs initiated by Gooch is the "Let's Talk Leadership" series where he interviews C-suite executives about their leadership journey, which is available on the organization's YouTube channel.
Since 2019, when Gooch became Chairman of the organization, the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc. has committed or awarded more than $500,000 to deserving Atlanta area students through Project Success, a tuition-assistance program. He has led the organization to contribute more than one million dollars annually in mentorship and other enrichment programs, including Saturday School, 100 Robotics Alliance, Collegiate 100 and Emerging 100.
Gooch is also a member of the Carter Center’s Board of Councilors, vice chair of the Decide DeKalb Development Authority, and is on the board of directors for the University of Georgia Alumni Association.
Throughout his career, Gooch has served on various firms’ diversity committees and engages them in the work of 100 Black Men of Atlanta. He is a consistent mentor to young lawyers, and has even seen a high school mentee grow from an internship position to graduating from Gooch's alma mater, the University of Georgia School of Law. He plans to continue his work of developing high-potential young professionals into the leaders of tomorrow.
Gooch is highly active in the LCLD community as well, and attends Learning Experiences and Alumni Leadership Symposiums, speaks at programs like the Fellows meetings, and coordinates local events for Atlanta-based LCLD Alumni as the Atlanta City Lead.
“Rick Palmore is a legend and inspiration who had the courage to push our profession to strive to be at its best for all attorneys. I am determined to follow in his footsteps and continue his work in changing the status quo by advancing diversity, inclusion and equity within our profession,” said Gooch. “I am humble to be recognized with this prestigious honor.”
About Rick Palmore
Rick Palmore is one of the most influential lawyers of our time and a nationally recognized advocate for diversity in the legal industry whose vision and hard work propelled, among countless other achievements, the founding of LCLD. Today, Rick serves on the Board as Founding Chair Emeritus and as Vice Chair of the Strategy and Innovation Committee. He continues to inspire his fellow Members to push the frontiers of diversity and inclusion for the legal profession.
About the Rick Palmore LCLD Alumni Award
In 2015, the LCLD Fellows Alumni Executive Council created the Rick Palmore LCLD Alumni Award as a way to honor the contributions of Rick Palmore to LCLD and to recognize LCLD Fellows Alumni whose vision, commitment and contributions have exemplified the mission of LCLD and the LCLD Fellows Alumni community and have had a lasting impact on LCLD Fellows and Fellows Alumni specifically and their communities more generally.