Dilworth Paxson LLP has pledged a $150,000 gift to Temple Law School in recognition of the Honorable Nelson A. Diaz, a Temple alum and retired senior attorney at the firm. The gift has helped to establish the Hon. Nelson A. Diaz Professorship, currently held by Professor Alice Abreu.
Joseph Jacovini, Chairman Emeritus and Executive Committee member at Dilworth Paxson LLP, explained that the gift is an acknowledgment of Diaz’s impact over the course of an extraordinary career. Noting that “Nelson is a really special person,” Jacovini recounted some of Diaz’s accomplishments: “He was the first Latino member of the Pennsylvania bar, the first Latino judge in PA, served at the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton, and was City Solicitor in Philadelphia. He was on the Exelon Board for decades, where he was a moving force for diversity and opportunities for minorities. He gave up that role – and it was a lot to give up – to run for mayor, because he had a driving desire to do something for the school system. He’s put his money where his mouth is in terms of diversity.”
Dilworth Paxson LLP has long championed diversity in the legal profession. In 1952, the firm hired William T. Coleman, a Harvard Law graduate who was the first African American man to clerk for a Supreme Court Justice, and in so doing became the first major all-white Philadelphia firm to hire a Black lawyer. During Coleman’s years at the firm, he worked on five cases for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund that led directly to the decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Coleman was made partner in 1957, and was followed a few years later by Dolores K. Sloviter, one of the first women to make partner in a large Philadelphia firm and the future Chief Justice of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. “Nelson fits right into this legacy of diversity, opportunity, and meritocracy,” said Jacovini. “Plus, he’s a really good lawyer.”
“We are deeply grateful for this contribution to the Hon. Nelson A. Diaz Professorship,” said interim Dean Rachel Rebouché. “As Temple Law School’s first Latino student and a founding member of our BLSA chapter in the 1970s, Judge Diaz helped to shape who we have become as an institution today. He has been an unwavering supporter of Temple Law and a champion for diversity and equality both here at Temple and in the legal profession.”
Jacovini remarked that Diaz has had a similar impact at Dilworth Paxson. “He’s added to the firm’s legacy,” Jacovini said, “and our future.”
[Pictured: Nelson Diaz, photographed by Joseph V. Labolito, Temple University]