Deborah Broyles, 53, a San Francisco partner in Reed Smith’s Labor & Employment group, passed away on September 10, 2016. Nationally known for both her legal work and community activism, Broyles was a trailblazer in diversity efforts in the legal profession. Serving as Reed Smith’s firm-wide Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) since February 2015, Broyles’ contributions to promoting diversity in the legal industry and throughout the United States were significant and transformative. She was a longtime member of the National Bar Association and the Charles Houston Bar Association, and served several leadership roles for the California Minority Counsel Program (CMCP), the California Association of Black Lawyers (CABL), and the Black Women Lawyers of Northern California (BWLNC).
“Deborah was a brilliant lawyer and was passionate about her clients and her work,” said Sandy Thomas, Reed Smith’s Global Managing Partner. “She won praise and admiration through her hard work and advocacy, and she was fierce about making the case for diversity and equal opportunity in the legal profession.”
For her many contributions to promoting diversity, Broyles received the State Bar of California’s 2015 Diversity Award. Last year, she was also inducted into the California Minority Counsel Program’s (CMCP) “Diversity Leader Hall of Fame,” after serving on CMCP’s Board of Directors for more than a decade. Most recently, the California Diversity Council honored her with its 2016 DiversityFIRST Award.
“We were extremely fortunate to have had Deborah serve as our Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion,” said Thomas. “The many diverse attorneys she mentored across the country and the long list of awards she received from innumerable organizations dedicated to diversity confirm that Deborah was a peerless leader and contributor. She made a difference and touched the lives of all of those who were fortunate enough to know her.”
Broyles also served six years on the Board of Directors and sat on the Advisory Board of HealthRIGHT 360, an integrated care services provider to low income individuals in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was an active, longtime member of the Bar Association of San Francisco, the Bay Area African American Partners Group, and the San Francisco chapter of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
A leading employment lawyer, Broyles was a member of the National Employment Law Council and served on the Board of Directors of the Positive Resource Center, the only organization for people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS that provides comprehensive benefits counseling and employment services in San Francisco.
Broyles joined Reed Smith in 2008. Previously, she had been partner at Thelen LLP, where she practiced for twelve years and, for six years, served as that firm’s National Diversity Director. Prior to that, she was at Steinhart & Falconer, beginning her legal career at Pettit & Martin in 1993 after graduating from law school. Broyles received her JD from Harvard Law School and completed her undergraduate work at Mount Holyoke College.