Alphonso E. Tindall Jr., Esq.
Edwards Angell Palmer
& Dodge L.L.P.,
New York City
In his second year of law school, Alphonso E. Tindall Jr. went through several interviews for a summer associate position. With the summer fast approaching and no job offer, he telephoned Hawkins Delafield & Wood L.L.P., one of the firms with which he had interviewed, and discovered that someone had forgotten to call to let him know he’d been hired. He worked for Hawkins that summer and accepted a full-time position upon graduating from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1981.
His experience that summer long ago was his introduction to the adversity he would face as an African-American lawyer. “I had to work twice as hard and be twice as good. But at the end of the day, if people were going to be fair I knew I would have a shot based on my work,” he says.
At 34, Tindall became Hawkins’ first African-American partner. He moved on to successful careers at other law firms before joining Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge in 2007, where, as a partner, he oversees emerging markets, public project finance, private-equity asset management and government relations activities.
His position as a senior professional has a positive benefit for the firm’s other minority employees. “People become much more sensitive to making sure people of color are given every opportunity,” he explains.
He sees a “disappointing” shift in the industry’s priorities, lamenting that “law firms have become so focused on revenue [that] we lose great lawyers who chose not to practice because the pressure of generating revenue is so significant.”
Still, he is committed to introducing people of color to the field. “I want to be able to share what I’ve learned to help others become successful,” he says. “When we look back, the question we all have to ask ourselves is ‘What will people say about you?’ I hope people will say I helped change the world in my own small way.”