Darrell S. Gay, partner - DLA Piper U.S. L.L.P., New York City
Coming of age during the civil rights movement had a tremendous influence on Darrell S. Gay’s career aspirations. “The fact that [Black Panther founders] Bobby Seale and Huey Newton were law students definitely impacted me at that time in my life. I felt being a lawyer might facilitate my doing something from the inside to help the cause,” Gay says. His passion for negotiating and making deals led the Columbia Law School graduate to employment law.
As a partner at DLA Piper U.S. L.L.P., one of the world’s premier global firms, Gay represents corporate and government clients in labor, employment discrimination and em-ployee relations issues, and serves as the chief negotiator for his clients during collective bargaining sessions. He also counsels and provides assistance to clients with global issues, such as cross border employment data protection and training.
Gay is a long time advocate of the power of business networking and the need for supportive environments for attorneys of color. He has played a role in the establishment of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association and the National Employment Law Council. “I’ve had the benefit and the privilege of education and training to give me the ability to help make a change. I have a duty to both those who preceded me and those who follow me to help further improve the legal environment and opportunities for diverse lawyers,” he says.
Prior to joining DLA Piper as a partner in 2005, Gay was a partner at Coudert Brothers and, before that, the principal of an employment and labor law boutique in New York City. He stresses the importance of relationship building to career development. “Outstanding service as a lawyer is only possible if you are given the opportunity to provide the service. The opportunity to prove yourself is often the product of a breakfast, lunch or dinner meeting,” Gay says. “However, a relationship should not necessarily start with a request for business or a job. You should seek first to establish a rapport, learn and know the person you are meeting with and their company. This approach can lead to the development of a relationship as a friend, mentor, employer and/or client.”
By Angela Johnson Meadows