October 14, 2008

Craig Thompson Named Chairman of Diversity Committee at Venable

5 min

Baltimore litigator is also noted radio personality and speaker on leadership and diversity issues; on Oct. 20, firm hosts Thurgood Marshall biographer Juan Williams to lead discussion of social justice and diversity to mark centennial of Marshall's birth

WASHINGTON (October 14, 2008) - Venable LLP announced that Craig A. Thompson, a litigation partner in the Baltimore office, has been named to lead the firm-wide Diversity Committee.

As head of the 20-member committee, Mr. Thompson is charged with directing diversity efforts across the 600 attorney firm, which also employs an equal number of non-legal staff.

Mr. Thompson steps into the role previously held jointly by former Baltimore City Solicitor Otho M. Thompson, a litigation partner in Baltimore, and William D. Dolan III, a litigation partner in the Tysons Corner, Va., office.

Mr. Thompson is well positioned to lead the firm's commitment to diversity. In addition to his legal practice, he is a well-known Baltimore media personality who has also developed educational workshops to promote leadership, diversity and personal development in schools and in business nationally. He hosts an award-winning current affairs radio show in Baltimore and has authored a successful series of children's books titled The ABCs of Black History.

In one of his early initiatives as diversity chair, Mr. Thompson is organizing a firmwide discussion on social justice to mark the centennial of the birth of Thurgood Marshall, a Baltimore native who made history as the nation's first African-American Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

To advance that dialogue, the Venable Diversity Committee obtained copies of journalist Juan Williams' 1998 biography of Justice Marshall and made the book available to all of the firm's attorneys and staff. On Monday, October 20, Venable will host Mr. Williams for an evening event to talk about Marshall's life, career and impact on American jurisprudence and society. The program will take place at the firm's Washington office and will be videotaped for those in other offices - including New York and Los Angeles - who can't attend.

"In light of Justice Marshall's 100th anniversary and the current historic presidential election, it struck me that the time was right to engage the Venable community in a discussion about Marshall's accomplishments and aspirations for social equality," Mr. Thompson said.

He noted that Mr. Williams' book, Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary, is the only authorized biography of the late jurist. It also provides rare details of Marshall's success in arguing on behalf of plaintiffs that resulted in the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 desegregation decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The book also provides unique insight into Marshall's strategy while advancing the cause of integration.

"As a Washington journalist, I've long known Venable to be a civic-minded law firm actively engaged in its community," said Mr. Williams. "In so many ways, we live in the society that Thurgood Marshall helped create and define. I'm honored that Venable has chosen to use my book in an innovative way of raising consciousness and encouraging discussion on Marshall's life and legacy and to advance the tenets of diversity."

As part of the Diversity Committee's continuing commitment to an inclusive work environment, Mr. Thompson said he will champion Venable's diversity vision and continue to build on the strong foundation that firm has built over years by embracing the shared concerns of employees regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

"Craig Thompson's passion for diversity is extraordinary," said Venable Managing Partner Karl A. Racine. "In addition to managing a busy litigation practice, he is a recognized leader in the Baltimore community. Craig's energy and tireless efforts to promote inclusion are ideal for the mission of our Diversity Committee. I have no doubt Craig and the Diversity Committee as a whole will extend their passion into each of Venable's offices and the communities in which Venable has offices.

"I'm honored and excited to have this new responsibility in helping maintain - and advance - Venable's tireless commitment to ensuring an inclusive workplace," Mr. Thompson said of his new position.

"Venable has historically been in the forefront of law firms making good on promises of diversity and inclusion - which includes making sure that the right people are in the right place to fulfill their goals and professional potential. I'm proud to have a role in furthering and strengthening that tradition," he added.

In addition to his law practice, which centers on pharmaceutical defense work, Mr. Thompson hosts a weekly radio show, "The Front Page," on WEAA-FM in Baltimore, engaging guests and callers in discussions of current events. The show airs Monday evenings, 7-8 p.m. Mr. Thompson hosted a television interview show, "Profiles with Craig Thompson," on the former UPN affiliate in Baltimore from 1999 until 2005.

Mr. Thompson is actively involved in diversity issues on the local, regional, and national levels. He has lectured nationally at school, churches, and educational organizations including the National School Board Association, addressing topics such as the achievement gap in schools.

Mr. Thompson's children's book, The ABCs of Black History, is now in its third printing. He started the project in the first few months after the birth of his first daughter in 2004 - he recalled fondly compiling the book in fleeting free moments as he and his wife stayed awake with their daughter and as he worked on a major case. Sleep, he noted, came in a distant second to these more pressing responsibilities. Mr. Thompson's second children's book, highlighting the technical and scientific inventions of the African-American community, is due out by holiday time 2008.


One of the American Lawyer’s top 100 law firms, Venable LLP has attorneys practicing in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and government affairs. Venable serves corporate, institutional, governmental, nonprofit and individual clients throughout the U.S. and around the world from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offices in California, Maryland, New York and Virginia. For more, visit www.Venable.com.