(Left) Waverly D. Crenshaw Jr., of Tennessee, for the Middle District of Tennessee; and (right) Lawrence Joseph Vilardo, of New York, for the Western District of New York.

President Obama recently nominated two more attorneys of color to fill vacant seats in the nation’s United States District Courts: Waverly D. Crenshaw Jr., of Tennessee, for the Middle District of Tennessee; and Lawrence Joseph Vilardo, of New York, for the Western District of New York.

“I am honored to put forward these highly qualified candidates for the federal bench,” President Obama said. “They will be distinguished public servants and valuable additions to the United States District Court.”

Crenshaw became the first African-American attorney at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis in 1990, according to The Tennessean. Four years later, he was elevated to partner, specializing in labor and employment law. He also started an expansive mentoring program and served on the firm’s Diversity Committee.

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., hailed the president’s choice.

“Out of an outstanding field of candidates, President Obama is nominating a first-rate local attorney and community leader,” Cooper said in a statement. “Waverly Crenshaw will make a fine federal judge. I just hope the Senate confirms him quickly because he is needed on the bench now.”

After obtaining bachelor’s and law degrees from Vanderbilt University, Crenshaw began his legal career by serving as a law clerk on the Chancery Court for Davidson County, Tenn., from 1981 to 1982. He also served as a law clerk to Judge John T. Nixon of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee from 1982 to 1984. Crenshaw moved to the state attorney general’s office, where he worked on antitrust and consumer protection litigation. He then move to the private sector, working as an associate at Passino, Delaney & Hildebrand from 1987 to 1990, before joining Waller.

Vilardo has a similarly expansive résumé.  A product of Buffalo, N.Y., Vilardo graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Canisius College in 1977. He then attended Harvard Law School and graduated with magna cum laude distinction in 1980. While in law school, he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Vilardo’s made his first steps into the legal career by serving as a law clerk to Judge Irving L. Goldberg of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from 1980 to 1981. He was then an associate at the law firm of Damon Morey LLP from 1981 to 1986. Vilardo then founded his own firm, Connors & Vilardo, LLP with his mentor, Terrence M. Connors. His expertise includes business litigation, personal injury civil litigation and crime investigation at trial and appellate levels. Vilardo also serves as a senior editor for the American Bar Association’s Litigation Journal, and as a legal scholar at law schools in the Buffalo area.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who recommended Vilardo to the White House, said he was thrilled by the nomination.

“Last congress, I was proud to recommend Lawrence J. Vilardo, a true son of Buffalo and brilliant lawyer, to serve on the Western District federal bench, and today I am thrilled to announce that President Obama has officially nominated Larry Vilardo for the position” said Schumer. “Larry Vilardo has a tremendous legal acumen, a proven commitment to serving the community and is deeply committed to Buffalo – a city where he was born, raised, educated, and raised his own family. He is erudite, experienced, and deeply respected by every facet of the Western New York legal community, and I am confident he will be a fair and well-respected judge; I will work to make sure he is confirmed as quickly as possible.”