The Orange County Coalition for Diversity in the Law (OCCDL) is a collaborative effort of professionals from leading Orange County law firms and other community partners committed to achieving cultural diversity in recruiting and retaining law students and attorneys in Orange County.
How it Began
In 2004, the managing partners and office administrators of several major Orange County firms initiated an effort to address the increasing need for firms to:
- Share best practices regarding recruiting and retention of diverse attorneys
- Promote Orange County legal practice
- Provide a forum for our diverse attorneys in Orange County to share their experiences
From these basic concepts, the Orange County Diversity Task Force was created. In 2014, the group's name was changed from Orange County Diversity Task Force to the Orange County Coalition for Diversity in the Law, to more clearly reflect the long-standing commitment of the legal community to this effort. The group consists of Orange County law firms and other community partners dedicated to increasing diversity in the legal profession in Orange County.
OCCDL holds numerous programs throughout the year which explore all aspects of diversity within the legal profession.
- Our annual UCI Panel on Legal Careers, an event co-sponsored by the University of California, Irvine, includes panelists from diverse backgrounds that currently practice law in the Orange County area. The program is designed to give both undergraduate and law students information on the wide variety of professional opportunities available to diverse lawyers in Orange County.
- We host an annual mixer to give law students the opportunity to network with attorneys from member firms, as well as a program targeted at first-year associates providing information on how to succeed once they have started at their firms.
- We partner annually with the Public Law Center to provide clinic training to 70-100 summer associates.
- We support pipeline initiatives, including Project SELF (OC Bar Foundation), Saturday Academy of Law (UCI) and Pre-Law Outreach Program (UCI School of Law).
- OCCDL partners with several affinity groups in Orange County to sponsor events throughout the year:
- Asian American Bar Association
- Black Leadership Advancement Coalition
- Filipino-American Lawyers of Orange County
- Hispanic Bar Association
- Iranian American Bar Association
- Korean American Bar Association
- Lavender Bar Association (since inception)
- South Asian Bar Association of Southern California
- Thurgood Marshall Bar Association
- Vietnamese American Bar Association of Southern California
- Women's Lawyers' Association
Please review our events planned for this year and join us!
Board of Directors
Ashley Vaccaro is Senior Counsel Litigation and Trial with Rutan & Tucker. As an experienced litigator, Ashley handles all aspects of trial, pre-trial, and post-trial proceedings in state and federal courts throughout the country, including arbitration, mediation and settlement negotiations. Ashley’s matters cover a range of practice areas, focusing on complex commercial litigation, and have included employment, insurance, breach of contract, securities, environmental, unfair business practices, and business tort claims. In addition to her litigation practice, Ashley represents clients in government investigations and enforcement actions, and advises clients in connection with internal audits. Ashley guides corporate clients through any business matter they may face, including reviewing and understanding contracts, identifying potential liabilities and coverage positions, understanding and abiding by corporate compliance programs, properly handling investigations, and improving training and related policies and procedures.
Jiaxiao Zhang is an associate in the Orange County office of McDermott Will & Emery. Her practice focuses on the protection, management, and enforcement of patents and other intellectual property, and strategic guidance in the areas of intellectual property litigation, patent prosecution, corporate transactions, licensing, and competition. An experienced patent attorney and a former engineer at a biomedical device company, Jiaxiao has advocated for diversity and related mentorship in engineering, technology, and law since her student days. Jiaxiao is the Vice President of OCCDL, co-Chair of Programs for the Howard T. Markey American Inn of Court, a Public Law Center Advocate, and active in Racial & Ethnic and Gender Diversity efforts and committees at McDermott. Jiaxiao is also a proud member of OCAABA, SCCLA, APAWLA, and NAPABA.
Daniel Lopez is an associate in the Orange County office of Jones Day. His practice focuses on data privacy, cybersecurity, and commercial litigation. He advises clients on compliance with various U.S. consumer privacy laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA), and the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC). He also assists clients in conducting data breach investigations, including advising clients on notification and other legal obligations arising from a data breach. Apart from Daniel’s involvement internally at Jones Day to promote diversity, he is a member of the Executive Board of the Orange County Coalition for Diversity in the Law.
Sarah Ayad is an associate at Snell & Wilmer. Sarah focuses her practice in product liability litigation in state and federal courts, defending companies in complex negligence and products liability cases involving catastrophic personal injuries and wrongful death. Sarah also handles consumer warranty and consumer fraud-based litigation for automobile manufacturers. Sarah is the Secretary of OCCDL, Inc., on the Board of Directors for Mariposa Women and Family Center, and is a member of Snell & Wilmer’s Diversity Committee.