Cooley Honors DEI Champions

New award recognizes exemplary contributions to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at the firm

The annual Cooley Champion Award recognizes exemplary employees who have contributed to progressing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at the firm.

The award is a component of the board of directors Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan, which recognizes individuals for Being Cooley by advancing the DEI cause and, by extension, inspiring others to do the same. The winners are each able to direct $10,000 in charitable donations to their preferred nonprofit organization engaged in racial, social or DEI-related efforts.

In its inaugural year, Cooley honored four recipients – Melissa Boyd, Kia Gilmore, Tanisha James and Eric Larson. In the videos below, the 2022 winners discuss what the distinction means to them.

Melissa Boyd

Melissa is an associate and chair of the San Francisco chapter of the Cooley Inclusion Alliance, a role through which she leads and advocates for colleagues. She has facilitated various small group programs and discussions to promote inclusive behavior within the firm, including Racial Justice Book Club meetings, and serves as a mentor to many junior associates. Boyd has selected the Equal Justice Initiative to receive the charitable donation.


Kia Gilmore

Kia is a legal secretary and co-chair of Cooley’s Kia is a legal secretary and co-chair of Cooley Black Business Professionals Affinity Group. She has a deep commitment and energetic approach to DEI locally and firmwide, and she’s a collaborative advocate for business professionals. She consistently creates a more inclusive environment for her colleagues, and has designed and facilitated local programming and small group discussions. Gilmore has selected So Others Might Eat to receive the charitable donation.


Tanisha James

Tanisha is a partner and chair of Cooley’s Black Attorney Affinity Group (BAAG), and she uses her leadership role to promote and integrate DEI practices. She engages with colleagues and firm leaders on how to best support Black associates’ growth, and she developed the Buddy Program within BAAG to offer opportunities for associates to build relationships to advance their careers. James has selected When We All Vote to receive the charitable donation.


Eric Larson

Eric is the global head of intellectual property, and he leads a group of 150+ professionals who support Cooley’s IP practice. He is a leader in integrating DEI best practices and behaviors within his team, and he actively encourages others to do the same. He often collaborates with the firm’s DEI team, and he has designed and facilitated a teamwide DEI discussion series. Larson has selected Safe Horizon’s Streetwork Project to receive the charitable donation.