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Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program: V&E Continues Efforts to Promote Diversity in the Workplace

The Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program (DAPP) is one of the many pipeline programs that Vinson & Elkins supports to further diversity in the legal industry. DAPP aims to diversify the profession by expanding opportunities for women law students of color to secure summer positions at law firms and corporations following their first year of law school. By infusing the attorney pipeline with talented women of color, DAPP works to increase the statistics of women of color who are hired, retained and promoted at law firms in the United States.

This year, V&E welcomed two law students into its Summer Associate Program through DAPP. Applications for next year’s DAPP program are open now through November 20 and first-year law students can apply here.

Vinson & Elkins Partners with DAPP

In 2018, V&E’s Dallas office participated in the inaugural year of DAPP Direct, a national program that places women law students of color in summer internships at law firms. V&E’s Dallas office has continued to participate annually, and this past summer, V&E’s Houston office hosted its first DAPP scholar.

In 2019, V&E began partnering with in-house counsel for week-long placements to expose DAPP participants to both law firm and corporate legal work. The firm partnered with client Flowserve in Dallas in 2019 and with in Dallas and client Trace Midstream in Houston in 2020.

Vinson & Elkins’ DAPP Participants

In 2020, V&E welcomed DAPP scholars Jalee Blackwell and Cassandra Zárate to its Dallas and Houston offices, respectively.

Jalee Blackwell, a student at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, was a 2020 summer associate in V&E’s Dallas office. Following the V&E Summer Associate Program, Blackwell spent a week with the Match Group to learn more about in-house counsel work.

Prior to law school, Blackwell was a court intern for the Honorable Lee Ann Reno, Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas. At SMU, Blackwell is involved in the Hispanic Law Students Association, Women in Law and the SMU Law Review Association.

“I am incredibly grateful to the DAPP program for giving me the opportunity to gain invaluable experience at V&E and Match Group. In such a short time frame, V&E provided not only robust legal experience in multiple practice groups, but also made sure every summer associate truly understood the inclusive culture of the firm. Additionally, my time at the Match Group gave me the chance to see the other side of legal practice and how in-house attorneys advise different business departments company-wide. Overall, both V&E and the Match Group allowed me to build professional relationships with attorneys that I know will be invaluable for years to come.”

Cassandra Zárate, a student at the University of Houston Law Center, was a 2020 summer associate in V&E’s Houston office. Following the V&E Summer Associate Program, Zárate spent a week with V&E client, Trace Midstream, to learn more about in-house counsel work.

Prior to law school, Zárate was an immigration legal assistant at Refugee Services of Texas. During her undergraduate career at The University of Texas at Austin, Zárate was the President of Minority Women Pursuing Law. She is currently involved in the Hispanic Law Student Association at the University of Houston.

“I am eternally grateful to DAPP, V&E and Trace Midstream for the encouragement and support I received this summer. Every attorney I worked with was welcoming and willing to provide guidance on my assignments. I gained invaluable legal experience and formed cherished connections during my time at V&E. I am proud to be a part of V&E, a firm committed to the promotion and advancement of women of color in the legal profession. I look forward to returning next summer!”

Both Blackwell and Zárate are returning to V&E in 2021 as 2L Summer Associates.

V&E DAPP Success Stories

V&E welcomed University of Texas law students and DAPP scholars Rachel Crooks and Claudia Socias as Summer Associates in the firm’s Dallas office in 2018 and 2019. Crooks and Socias returned to the firm as 2L Summer Associates and accepted offers to join the firm as new associates in the fall of 2021.


To learn more about Diversity & Inclusion at Vinson & Elkins, visit the Diversity & Inclusion section of our website. Please contact Helena Harris for additional information.

About Vinson & Elkins
For more than a century, Vinson & Elkins has provided outstanding client service across important industries that drive the global economy. Built on a strong culture of collaboration across 11 offices worldwide, V&E lawyers are committed to excellence, offering clients decades of legal experience in handling transactions, investments, projects and disputes across the globe. Learn more by visiting or connect with us on LinkedIn.

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