Vinson & Elkins Appoints Deborah Martin Owens as Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

by Tom Smith

Vinson & Elkins  announced that Deborah Martin Owens has joined the firm as its global Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I). Working closely with firm leadership, Martin Owens will further develop and implement firmwide DE&I initiatives, as well as serve as a strategic advisor on the retention and promotion of underrepresented lawyers. She is based in New York.

“Bringing Deborah on board is integral to creating an even more inclusive culture for everyone at Vinson & Elkins, particularly our diverse and women colleagues,” said David Oelman, lead talent partner and member of the firm’s Management Committee and Diversity Executive Committee. “Her experience as a lawyer as well as a leader in developing effective DE&I strategies and support in the workplace is unique, and we have no doubt she will be invaluable in guiding the firm toward long-term success in this area.”

“Vinson & Elkins’ energy and openness to innovation surrounding its DE&I structure has been front and center in all of my conversations with the firm,” said Martin Owens. “I am equally energized by how the firm wants to grow, placing culture and people at the core, and I look forward to applying my experience advising on DE&I issues to its global platform.”

Martin Owens most recently served as East Coast Diversity Director for Sidley Austin, where she developed and implemented programs, policies and initiatives to support Sidley’s strategic diversity and inclusion goals for its Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. offices. Prior to that, she guided inclusion initiatives for the legal profession through engagement with law firms, corporate legal departments, nonprofits, government agencies and academia as the Executive Director of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at the New York City Bar Association.

“Deborah is one of a handful of people on this planet whose grit, enthusiasm and sense of purpose give me hope that DE&I efforts in the legal community will flourish,” said Oscar Saunders, Deputy Chief Legal Officer for MGG Investment Group and past participant in the New York City Bar’s 2019 Associate Leadership Institute facilitated by Martin Owens. “Deborah is a beacon for all of us who strive to make the legal industry more inclusive, and I could not be happier to hear about her move to Vinson & Elkins.”

After receiving her J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law, Martin Owens spent nearly 12 years as an attorney for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. While in law school, Martin Owens was a judicial intern for the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Martin Owens has also volunteered countless hours to organizations furthering DE&I initiatives in the legal profession and beyond. She currently serves as board chair of Women Creating Change, an organization dedicated to creating a more just and equitable New York City where all women are civically engaged, and is a member of the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals, National Association of Law Placement and Corporate Counsel Women of Color, among others.

“Our core principles pertaining to DE&I are central to our ability to attract and retain the best and brightest lawyers and business professionals to serve our clients,” said Hy Pomerance, Vinson & Elkins’ Chief Talent Officer. “By defining clear goals and transparent metrics, Deborah and our recently expanded DE&I-focused professional team will further align the firm’s business objectives with our mission to build on our inclusive culture where everyone has an opportunity to thrive.”


Leave a Comment