Morrison & Foerster has a long and successful history of working with VMware Senior Litigation Counsel and MoFo alumna Danielle Coleman on matters related to intellectual property, patents, and employment law, to name a few. So, we were not surprised to receive news that Danielle was named a 2020 Rising Star by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA). As a strong supporter of equity and systemic change, we are proud to highlight the achievements, efforts, and shared commitment of our valued partners, VMware and Danielle, as they lead the charge for greater diversity and racial equity within their communities and workplaces.
MCCA’s Rising Stars list features attorneys whose accomplishments and dedication to the legal profession and to their community have earned them the reputation as “attorneys to watch.” Each attorney on the list exhibits great ambition and a love of the law, but also compassion for those in need and a strong desire to give back to others.
Before joining VMware, Danielle was an associate in MoFo’s IP Litigation practice and a member of the firm’s Black Affinity Group, where she formed valuable relationships with other diverse lawyers, such as partners Bita Rahebi and Eric Tate, whom she credits with being mentors to her. Advocating for change and racial justice is a passion that Danielle brought with her to VMware as global co-lead of the Black@VMware Power of Difference (ERG) Group, an internal affinity group dedicated to supporting allyship and diversity and inclusion initiatives.
As part of Black@VMware, Danielle was instrumental in the creation of the #WeHearYou campaign, launched this summer in response to the heightened focus on racial injustice. The goal of the campaign is to inspire people to take time out, listen, educate themselves, and be empathetic and resilient. The group also created a social justice fund to raise money for organizations such as the Equal Justice Initiative, and leads ongoing meetings through its Culture Club, where VMware leaders and colleagues share their own stories in an effort to bring home the ideal outcome of ending police brutality and racial injustice. The hope is to encourage those who view the recent news events as isolated incidents to become allies and advocates after hearing from their own peers.
MoFo and VMware, along with Danielle, have also teamed up on several pro bono-related matters, such as the recent Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project, aimed at building a public database of COVID-19-related elections litigation that can help advocates and policymakers design procedures for a safe and inclusive election amidst the pandemic. Danielle and several lawyers from VMware also joined the firm’s pro bono team to conduct Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) clinics to assist “dreamers” who came to the United States as children with legal matters related to immigration policies.
As an associate at MoFo, Danielle had the opportunity to work on the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement alongside MoFo trial partner Arturo González, resulting in 81 recommendations to the City of San Francisco for policy changes, including use of force, and internal and external oversight. She co-led the working group assembled to investigate stops, searches, and arrests by the San Francisco Police Department in response to reports that several of the department’s officers sent numerous racist and homophobic text messages.
Danielle remains optimistic and states, “I’m hopeful that we can continue to work with MoFo, not only on the active litigation matters that we’re working on together or within the patent and employment law space, but on other pro bono projects that will positively impact the community as it relates to racial injustice, immigration, women’s rights, and other similar areas.”
MoFo and VMware’s professional relationship goes back a number years. Recently, a team of MoFo lawyers—led by Rich Hung, Michael Jacobs, Bita Rahebi, and Diek Van Nort—took over a patent litigation case from another firm that resulted in a fantastic outcome, obtaining summary judgment of non-infringement for VMware in litigation brought by Route1, Inc. and securing a $1.6 million award of attorneys’ fees.
Danielle notes that “I’ve worked closely with [the team] and what has struck me about them when I was at the firm—and even now in-house—is how the team is not only knowledgeable, but they are also very driven and think outside of the box to come up with creative solutions.”
VMware is a member of the MCCA, which is committed to advancing the hiring, retention, and promotion of diverse lawyers in law departments and law firms by providing research, best practices, professional development, and training; and through pipeline initiatives. Danielle and the other 2020 Rising Stars will be honored during MCCA’s Creating Pathways to Diversity Virtual Conference on October 27, 2020.