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New York—Dentons, the global law firm, today named acclaimed gay rights advocate Evan Wolfson as Senior Counsel. Wolfson, an internationally recognized civil rights lawyer and strategist, was the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, the pioneering campaign which drove the successful strategy that won same-sex couples the right to marry throughout the United States.
Through his work with Dentons, alongside his other ongoing projects, Wolfson will help spearhead firmwide diversity initiatives while counseling clients on human rights and public policy matters. As a member of Dentons US Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which is led by US Partners Steve Velkei and former Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, Wolfson will enhance Dentons' efforts to attract and retain a diverse roster of lawyers and professionals, including women, persons of color and LGBTQ persons. In addition, Wolfson will be engaged as a part of national client teams to enhance focus on inclusion and equality across multiple dimensions.
"Evan Wolfson is among the most important civil rights leaders of our generation and we are very proud to welcome him to our Firm," said Dentons US Managing Partner Mike McNamara. "A legend in the LGBT community, his insights will be important for client teams across the Firm. Evan's passion and lifelong vision for equality, which has infused his legal career, will enrich our strong commitment to building a diverse team of lawyers and professionals who accurately reflect the clients we represent on a daily basis.”
Widely acknowledged as the architect of the marriage equality movement, Wolfson has been an advocate for human rights around the world beginning in 1983 when he wrote his Harvard Law School thesis on gay people and the freedom to marry. During the 1990's he served as co-counsel in the historic Hawaii marriage case that launched the ongoing global freedom to marry conversation, and has participated in numerous gay rights and HIV/AIDS cases.
Wolfson's work will be featured in the upcoming documentary "The Freedom to Marry", which will have its world premiere at the Frameline Festival on June 25 in San Francisco. The Eyepop Productions film, by award-winning director Eddie Rosenstein, traces the build-up to last year’s Supreme Court triumph, going behind the scenes with Wolfson and key colleagues such as attorney Mary Bonauto, who argued the case.
“As I embark on a new life chapter, harnessing the power and sharing the lessons from our Freedom to Marry campaign to advance human rights on other fronts and in other countries, I am excited about the opportunity to draw on and contribute to Dentons’ unparalleled global reach and deep bench of talent," Wolfson said. "Dentons’ commitment to inclusion, diversity, and serving good causes makes a good fit with the other projects I am taking on here in the US and globally.”
Wolfson is the author of the landmark work "Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry" (Simon & Schuster, 2004), and was named one of "the 100 most influential lawyers in America" by the National Law Journal. Newsweek/The Daily Beast dubbed Wolfson "the godfather of gay marriage" and Time Magazine named him one of "the 100 most influential people in the world." In 2012, Wolfson was awarded the Barnard Medal of Distinction alongside President Barack Obama, and he has been honored by the American Bar Association and the American Psychiatric Association, among many others.
Having achieved in 2015 the goal he had pursued for 32 years, Wolfson closed down Freedom to Marry earlier this year and now devotes his time to advising and assisting diverse movements and causes in the US and around the world. He has been named a Distinguished Visitor from Practice at Georgetown Law Center, where he teaches law and social change.
Wolfson is a frequent speaker on the global stage and was involved in winning the freedom to marry in Canada, Argentina, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, Ireland, and other countries. He is now assisting similar efforts in diverse countries, including Australia, Cuba, the Czech Republic and Japan. Earlier in his career Wolfson served in Washington, D.C. as associate counsel to Lawrence Walsh in the Office of Independent Counsel (Iran/Contra), and was appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo to the New York State Task Force on Sexual Harassment. In addition to his current appointment at Georgetown, Wolfson has been an adjunct professor of law at Columbia University and Rutgers University Law Schools, and a teaching fellow in political philosophy at Harvard College.
Wolfson holds a BA magna cum laude from Yale University; a JD cum laude from Harvard Law School; and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Northeastern Illinois University, where he gave the commencement speech in May of this year.
Dentons has been a leader in recognizing the rights of LGBT individuals, maintaining a deep focus on hiring and retaining a diverse workforce that includes women and people of color. Firm lawyers have dedicated countless hours of pro bono legal services to projects ensuring the civil and legal rights of LGBT individuals.
Dentons is the world's largest law firm, delivering quality and value to clients around the globe. Dentons is a leader on the Acritas Global Elite Brand Index, a BTI Client Service 30 Award winner and recognized by prominent business and legal publications for its innovations in client service, including founding Nextlaw Labs and the Nextlaw Referral Network. Dentons' polycentric approach and world-class talent challenge the status quo to advance client interests in the communities in which we live and work. www.dentons.com.