Building a Legacy
In Memory of William E. McKnight
December marks the 20th anniversary of William E. McKnight’s unfortunate death. Bill was an extraordinary community leader and Nixon Peabody LLP’s first African American partner. He joined the firm in 1973 and became a partner in the labor department in 1981.
Diversity is a key element of Nixon Peabody LLP’s history, its success and its future. The firm, which is a founding member of the Workforce Diversity Network (formerly the Greater Rochester Diversity Council), demonstrated its commitment to diversity long before joining the GRDC.
Nixon Peabody established the William McKnight Scholarship Fund, which provides an annual scholarship to an African-American high school student. In addition, the firm sponsors a moot court competition in Bill’s memory, held each year at Cornell Law School in conjunction with the Black Law Students Association and annually funds an American Bar Association legal opportunity scholarship for a minority law student. Bill McKnight is also remembered by the Volunteer Legal Services Project, which coordinates pro bono services in Rochester, through their annual William E. McKnight Volunteer Service Award for outstanding pro bono work on behalf of low-income clients.
“Bill was an extraordinary lawyer and friend,” says John Witmeyer, a partner in the Rochester office. “December brings back many fond memories of him, but the scholarship program and moot court competition in his honor help keep Bill’s memory very much alive throughout the entire year.”