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Nelson Mullins Awards Inaugural Diversity
Scholarship to Harvard 2L Derecka Purnell

Columbia, S.C. (Feb. 17, 2016) – Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP has awarded its first Diversity Scholarship to Derecka Purnell, a second-year student at Harvard Law School.  She will join the Firm's EducationCounsel group in the Washington, DC office as a 2016 summer associate.

Primarily designed to increase the number of diverse law students interested in summer and long-term employment with the Firm, the Nelson Mullins Diversity Scholarship Program fits squarely into the Firm's commitment to inclusive excellence and robust diversity in all aspects of Firm life. Awardees will receive a $10,000 scholarship and a salaried summer associate position at one of the Firm’s 15 offices.

Jim Lehman, the Firm's Managing Partner, explains, "The Diversity Scholarship Program is an important tool to help us attract the talent we need to continue to grow and innovate.  Diversity and excellence go hand-in-hand."

At Harvard, Ms. Purnell was a 2015 Dean’s Prize Recipient, 2014 NAACP Legal Defense Fund “Earl Warren” Scholarship Recipient, Association of Business Women of America Scholarship Recipient, and NBLSA Nelson Mandela Scholar.  She serves on the Harvard Law School Administrative Board, is a member of the Black Law Students Association, and serves as a Tenant Advocacy Student Representative. Before law school, Ms. Purnell served as a middle school teacher at a charter school in Kansas City, Missouri and worked as a First to the Top Fellow with the Tennessee Department of Education.

Ms. Purnell was drawn to Nelson Mullins' practice groups and the additional financial support available through the Scholarship Program.  She said, "I am thankful to be an inaugural recipient of the Nelson Mullins Diversity Scholarship. As a teacher, I desired to learn more about the role and influence of law and policy in education reform. I look forward to learning about those intersections as a summer associate with EducationCounsel LLC."

"Ms. Purnell has exactly the kind of experience and passion that we hope to attract to our education policy practice. We're thrilled that she will be joining us this summer," shared Art Coleman, co-managing partner at EducationCounsel.

Established in 1897, Nelson Mullins has more than 500 attorneys and other professionals with offices in the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. For more information on the Firm, go to

For additional information, contact Jan Easterling, Nelson Mullins Communications Coordinator, at 800.237.2000, ext. 9794.

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