Joseph K. West is a partner in the firm's Trial Practice Group and practices in the area of complex litigation, handling a variety of matters in areas including, but not limited to, class actions, insurance litigation, commercial litigation, zoning and land use, catastrophic injury, products liability, and labor and employment. Mr. West is also a member of the firm’s Partners Board and serves as the firm’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, in which capacity he manages Duane Morris’ comprehensive firm-wide diversity and inclusion program and he chairs the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Consulting Practice. Mr. West advises domestic and global companies on a wide array of legal issues, and also represents, trains and advises numerous associations and companies, including publicly traded companies and their boards and CEOs, on issues related to diversity and inclusion and the compliance, risk management and corporate strategies associated with these issues. He helped establish the first of its kind law firm diversity and inclusion consulting practice at the firm, which has been cited for its innovative approach to crafting sustainable diversity and inclusion programs and solutions for corporate entities. His clients range from startups to Fortune 500 companies and currently include Walmart Stores, Inc., Exxon Mobil, The Carolina Panthers, the Dubai-based Al Ahli Holding Group, Mercedes Benz-USA, Altria, Discover Financial Services, Inc. and Jabil Circuit, Inc.

Mr. West is an award-winning, nationally recognized subject matter authority in the field of diversity and inclusion, having worked, lectured and written extensively on diversity and inclusion issues impacting businesses and the legal profession. He has lectured at the George Mason Antonin Scalia School of Law on corporate leadership and diversity and was retained by the school to develop the first of its kind curriculum on corporate diversity and inclusion. 

Prior to joining Duane Morris, Mr. West spent almost five years focused on diversity and inclusion within the legal profession as President and CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA). Prior to MCCA, Mr. West was Associate General Counsel – Head of Global Outside Counsel Management at Walmart Stores Inc., where he was responsible for managing the company’s relationships with all of its outside counsel worldwide, including oversight of over 600 law firms and a budget of over $300 million. He was also a member of Walmart’s Class Action/Complex Litigation Group, where he helped manage and develop litigation strategies for several groundbreaking matters, including the largest class action matter in U.S. history. Before joining Walmart, he served as Assistant General Counsel in the Litigation Group of Entergy Corporation, an integrated energy and current Fortune 500 company. There, he served as lead counsel on a number of high-profile jury and bench trials, appellate arguments and arbitrations on behalf of the company. Prior to Entergy, Mr. West spent over 13 years as a litigator and partner in law firms in Louisiana, representing clients in state and federal courts and in arbitration and mediation.

Mr. West developed his extensive knowledge in diversity and inclusion matters working with companies and law firms to improve their diversity and inclusion metrics, training and programs. At Walmart, Mr. West successfully leveraged his role as Head of Global Outside Counsel Management to establish and meet the company’s diversity and inclusion goals through its outside counsel spend, for which he is recognized as being at the forefront of the business case for diversity, and to facilitate the company’s role as an initial signatory to the Inclusion Initiative with the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms. As President and CEO of MCCA, he tripled membership in the national advocacy group for corporate diversity and inclusion issues and created programs focused on expanding opportunities for minority lawyers and women in corporate law departments and within member firms, enhancing legal skills for corporate lawyers and facilitating business development opportunities for corporate lawyers.

Mr. West was elected and currently serves on the board of directors of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He currently serves as a member of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which oversees the accreditation of the nation’s law schools, and is serving a one-year term as a member of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. Mr. West is also serving a three-year term as a member of the Xavier University of Louisiana Board of Trustees.  He previously served on the ABA Commission on Diversity and Inclusion 360 via appointment by then-ABA President Paulette Brown. He was a member of the ABA Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education, and has served on the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. Mr. West was also a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s ACC Value Challenge Steering Committee and has served on the Arts Council of New Orleans and the Walton Arts Center Corporate Leadership Council.

Mr. West has been named to Savoy Magazine’s 2018 list of Most Influential Black Lawyers. He was awarded the Diversity Collaboration Award in 2016 by the JTB Pipeline Organization, the Beacon Diversity Award in 2014 by the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, the Louis L. Redding Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 by the Delaware Barristers Association, and the 2014 Minority Business Leader Award by the Washington Business Journal. Each year since 2013, he has been named to the Power 100 list of the nation’s most influential minority attorneys by Lawyers of Color, Inc. Mr. West was named a CUP Catalyst by the Council of Urban Professionals in its 2012 inaugural list and in 2010 he was named In-House Counsel of the Year by the National Bar Association. His contributions beyond the legal community were recognized by ABC and NBC for the personal care he extended to patients stranded at Methodist Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, during and after Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city of New Orleans in 2005.

Mr. West is a graduate of Tulane Law School, where he formerly served as Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Southern University.

Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • Louisiana
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana

Education

  • Tulane Law School, J.D., 1986
  • Southern University, B.A., 1983

Experience

  • Duane Morris LLP
    - Partner and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, 2016-present

  • George Mason Antonin Scalia School of Law
    - Lecturer, Corporate Leadership and Diversity, 2016-present

  • Minority Corporate Counsel Association
    - President & CEO, 2011-2015

  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
    - Associate General Counsel, 2007-2011

  • Entergy Corporation
    - Assistant General Counsel – Litigation, 2004-2007
    - Senior Counsel – Litigation, 1999-2004

  • Tulane Law School
    - Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy, 2002-2006

  • Matchett, Verbois, Futrell & Henchy
    - Managing Partner of New Orleans, LA Office; Head Litigation Partner, 1996-1999

  • Wilkerson & Henry
    - Partner, 1995-1996

  • Bryan, Jupiter, Lewis & Blanson

    • Partner, 1991-1995
  • Carter & Cates
    - Associate, 1986-1991

Professional Activities

  • American Bar Association (ABA)
    - Commission of Women in the Profession, 2018
    - Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, 2016-present
    - Commission on Diversity and Inclusion 360 (appointed by ABA President), 2015-2016
    - Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education, 2014-2015
    - Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession (appointed by ABA President), 2010-2012
    - Spirit of Excellence Selection Committee, 2010-2012

  • Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC)
    - Member of ACC Value Challenge Steering Committee, 2009-2011

  • National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms
    - Advisory Council Member, 2009-present

Board Memberships

  • Xavier University of Louisiana
    - Board of Trustees

  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
    - Member of Board of Directors, 2017-present

  • Louisiana State Museum Board
    - Chair (appointed by Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and confirmed by Louisiana Senate), 2002-2006

  • Orleans Parish Alcoholic Beverage Control Board
    - Member; Chairperson (appointed by New Orleans City Council), 1988-1996

Honors and Awards

  • Named one of the Most Influential Black Lawyers, Savoy Magazine, 2018

  • Diversity Collaboration Award, JTB Pipeline Organization, 2016

  • Beacon Diversity Award, Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, 2014

  • Louis L. Redding Lifetime Achievement Award, Delaware Barristers Association, 2014

  • Minority Business Leader Award, Washington Business Journal, 2014

  • Power 100 list of the nation’s most influential minority attorneys, Lawyers of Color, Inc., 2013-present

  • CUP Catalyst, Council of Urban Professionals, 2012

  • In-House Counsel of the Year, National Bar Association, 2010

  • AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®

Civic and Charitable Activities

  • Walton Arts Center Corporate Leadership Council, 2009-2011
  • Arts Council of New Orleans, 2003-2005

Selected Publications

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Co-presenter, "Diversity and Inclusion - Both the "Right" Thing to Do and a Competitive Imperative in the Workplace," Duane Morris Institute (DMi) Webinar, November 1, 2018

  • Moderator, "Diversity in the Legal Profession: The Impact on Unconscious Bias on Progress, and Lessons Learned to Improve Success," The 22nd Annual Corporate Counsel Institute, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., March 15, 2018

  • Speaker, "Embracing Diversity and Inclusion & Improving the Practice of Health Law," CBA Health Law Committee Meeting Presentation, Chicago, November 30, 2017

  • Keynote Speaker, "Implicit Bias," Florida Bar Symposium Plenary Session, November 10, 2017
  • Keynote Speaker, "Diversity & Inclusion-2022; Five Future trends for the Next 5 Years," ALA Philadelphia Managing Partners Luncheon, November 9, 2017
  • Presenter, "Embracing Diversity & Inclusion & Improving the Practice of Health Law," Illinois Association of Health Care Attorneys Annual Meeting, November 2, 2017
  • Speaker, "Legends Breakfast with Bill Duke (Film Legend)," 37th Annual Conference of the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, Montego Bay, Jamaica, October 26, 2017
  • Speaker, "Implicit Bias," The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion "Path to Inclusion" Symposium, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, November 10, 2017
  • Panelist, "Career Tools: Integrating Mentoring, Sponsorship, Coaching, and Networking for Maximum Effect," National Conference of Women's Bar Associations Leadership Summit, New York City, August 11, 2017
  • Moderator, National Bar Association 92nd Annual Convention & Exhibits, Toronto, Canada, August 2, 2017
  • Keynote speaker, "Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace," Michigan Community Action Conference, Thompson, MI, July 11, 2017
  • Panelist, "Implicit Bias in the Courtroom and ABA Resolution on Diversity in Law Forms and Corporations," University of Baltimore School of Law, March 29, 2017
  • Presenter, "Implicit Bias," Duane Morris LLP, Los Angeles, January 27, 2017
  • Speaker, "Expectations of Corporate Clients - Is ABA Prop 113 a Tipping Point?" International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), November 29, 2016
  • Moderator, "Beauty Contests: Capturing the Crown," 2016 ABA Section of Litigation Professional Success Summit, Atlanta, Georgia, November 15, 2016
  • Keynote Speaker, Washington Bar Association's Law Day Dinner, Washington, D.C. May 8, 2016
  • Panelist, "Diversity & Inclusion: Your Clients Care and This Is Why You Should Too!," 2016 ABA Business Law Section Spring Meeting, Montreal, April 9, 2016
  • Panelist, "A Bridge to 21st Century Leadership and Beyond! The Making of a Diverse and Inclusive Leader," Association of Legal Administrators Webinar, New York City (Streamed Online), March 22, 2016
  • Keynote Speaker, DRI Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 17, 2016
  • Panelist, "Law School Rankings and Ensuring a Diverse Attorney Workforce: Is It Just Lip Service?," ABA Midwinter Meeting of the Employment Rights and Responsibilities Committee, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 16, 2016