Samford University

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Beverly Poole Baker

Beverly Poole Baker, J.D. ’85, began her law career representing numerous public agencies and private entities in a wide variety of bond and warrant transactions with Haskell, Slaughter and Young, LLC. She was the first African-American woman hired and made partner at an Alabama “white shoe” law firm, and the first African American in Alabama listed in the prestigious Red Book. She served as bond counsel for the issuance of the city of Birmingham $118,175,000 General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series 1988, as well as the first warrants in the nation secured by proceeds from gaming revenues (Macon County).Beverly Poole Baker

In the early ’90s, Baker was hired to represent the Jefferson County Personnel Board, where she handled routine administrative hearings, employee disputes and worked with outside counsel in the landmark case of In Re Birmingham Firefighters. During the mid-’90s, she started the employment law group at Haskell, Slaughter and Young, where she represented employers and insurers in all aspects of employment relationships—recruiting, hiring, promotions, demotions and termination. She also won the first plaintiff’s verdict for same-sex harassment and the first subclass of African-American women to be certified in a federal court in Alabama in the successful representation against the Alabama Post-Secondary School System. She later represented the Resolution Trust Corporation and several regional banks. For four years, Baker’s “night job” was as city prosecutor for the city of Hoover in Alabama.

After being diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer, which resulted in the paralysis of her vocal cords in the late ’90s, Baker began part-time mediation. She currently represents several health-care providers, is a full-time arbitrator and mediator, and conducts investigations for employers into employment-related claims.

Baker is listed in Best Lawyers of America, and is a member of the Alabama Law Foundation, the Birmingham Bar Foundation and the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel. She is also a founding member of the Women Lawyers Association and an adviser to the trustee of the Meyer Foundation. She was selected as one of Alabama’s and Birmingham’s top 10 businesswomen, and is the second woman and first African-American woman in Alabama elected as a fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals.

She served as Ogletree’s chief diversity officer from 2008 until 2011, where she was responsible for organizing, developing and coordinating the diversity initiatives of the then-40 offices of the firm. 

Learn more about Samford University’s centennial coeducation honorees.

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