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Baker Botts Selects 2024 Diversity Fellowship Recipients as Program Renamed in Honor of Rufus Cormier


HOUSTON, May 31, 2024 -- Baker Botts L.L.P., a leading international law firm, announced today that six students have been selected to receive the firm’s 2024 diversity fellowship, which has been renamed the Rufus Cormier Diversity Fellowship after retired Baker Botts partner Rufus Cormier, who, in 1981, became the first African American attorney at any major Houston law firm to be promoted to partner. The fellowships provide talented law students the opportunity to gain valuable experience at a large, global law firm and scholarship funds to assist with defraying the costs of their legal education.

In 1966, Cormier enrolled in SMU as a member of its second class that included African American students, graduating with honors and receiving the Avella Winn Hay Award as outstanding senior man.  He was also one of three members of the second class of African American scholarship athletes in the Southwest Conference, where he was co-captain of the SMU varsity football team. After graduating from SMU with honors, Cormier attended Yale Law School, graduating in 1973.  Before joining Baker Botts, he served as a special assistant to special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee’s Nixon Impeachment Inquiry.

Cormier joined Baker Botts in 1974, where he practiced corporate and finance law. Among other things, he was one of the firm’s experts in financial swaps and derivatives. In addition to his legal practice, he has been involved in numerous civic, philanthropic, and educational activities, including serving or having served as Chair of the Board of Regents of Texas Southern University, an Executive Committee member of the MD Anderson Board of Visitors, and board member of the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas. Cormier has received the Anti-Defamation League’s Karen Susman Jurisprudence Award, the Houston Bar Auxiliary’s Leon Jaworski Award, and the Spouses of the Houston Barristers’ Legal Legend Award.

Each of the recipients of the Rufus Cormier Diversity Fellowship is participating in the firm’s 2024 summer program. The winners were selected by a panel comprised of members of the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Winners, in addition to their academic achievements, have demonstrated strong leadership attributes and a commitment to promoting diversity in the legal profession. They are as follows:

  • Anuj Khoje, Emory University School of Law – New York office
  • Victoria Moreno-Gama, Harvard Law School – Austin office
  • Evan Ortiz, Duke University School of Law – Houston office
  • Akshara Rajavel, Duke University School of Law – Austin office
  • Aabha Singh, University of Texas School of Law – Houston office
  • Taha Syed, Georgetown University Law Center – Dallas office

Baker Botts is committed to the recruitment, retention and development of exceptional attorneys and law students. Diverse perspectives play an integral role in the continued growth of the firm, and the Rufus Cormier Diversity Fellowship is one of many programs aimed at promoting diversity in the legal profession.

For more information on the Rufus Cormier Diversity Fellowship Program, please clickhere.

Baker Botts is an international law firm whose lawyers practice throughout a network of offices around the globe. Based on our experience and knowledge of our clients' industries, we are recognized as a leading firm in the energy, technology and life sciences sectors. Since 1840, we have provided creative and effective legal solutions for our clients while demonstrating an unrelenting commitment to excellence. For more information, please visit