“We are very pleased to welcome Ed, O’Kelly, and Jennifer to Gordon & Rees,” said Firmwide Managing Partner, Dion Cominos. "Washington, D.C. has been a key component of our long-range expansion plans for some time, and we feel we have now found the ideal team to form the nucleus of this office."
Cooke, McWilliams, and Persico are making the move to Gordon & Rees from the D.C. office of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, where they were members of the Labor & Employment Group.
Edmund Cooke, Jr. will join the firm as Senior Counsel. In addition to an active employment practice where he counsels and represents Fortune 500 companies in legal matters covering a wide array of employment issues, Cooke specializes in diversity counseling, an emerging area of concern for large corporations, and providing assistance with complex disputes and investigations from regulatory agencies and civil rights groups, as well as helping clients design and implement diversity plans and employment audits, crisis communications, and diversity supplier programs. He recently served as one of a seven-member task force designated to oversee Coca-Cola, Inc.’s compliance with a consent decree resolving a lawsuit alleging race discrimination at the company. A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Cooke serves as the general counsel of the Executive Leadership Council, the nation’s premier leadership organization comprised of the most senior African-American corporate executives in Fortune 500 companies.
O’Kelly McWilliams III and Jennifer Persico will each join as a partner, with McWilliams serving as managing partner for the office. McWilliams has extensive experience counseling and handling litigation for clients on a broad range of business issues, with an emphasis on employment law issues as they relate to business transactions and disputes. He also has significant experience in corporate diversity counseling and risk mitigation.
Persico devotes a significant portion of her practice to the special employment issues applicable to government contractors under such laws as Executive Order 112546, Section 503 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. She also assists private and publicly traded employers with voluntary and government-required audits of their practices regarding equal employment opportunity, wage and hour, affirmative action compliance, diversity and regulatory compliance with a variety of federal, state and local employment laws.
McWilliams holds a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law, while Persico received her juris doctorate from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.
“We’re very excited to bring our practice to Gordon & Rees,” said Cooke. "The firm’s strategic business plan and core values mesh closely with ours, and we are looking forward to opening and expanding the D.C. office.”
Washington, D.C. becomes the 23rd office for Gordon & Rees, having opened Carlsbad, California and St. Louis, Missouri earlier this year.