In-house legal teams from major companies and top law firms will provide pro bono services for the initiative
US non-profit lawyer network Lawyers for Good Government Foundation (L4GG) has introduced a new initiative, Lawyers for Racial Justice.
The project, which was launched on Wednesday, was established to “help bring about systemic change by mobilising much-needed legal resources in the fight for racial justice at the state and local level,” the network said.
Top law firms and in-house legal teams from Fortune 500 companies will aid in supporting Lawyers for Racial Justice by providing pro bono services. New York-based investment banking company BNY Mellon and US firm Kirkland & Ellis, the project’s top supporters, have been named as leadership partners.
Law firms Mayer Brown and White & Case are also major supporters of the initiative, along with Johnson & Johnson and Verizon. Other corporate supporters include Advance and Condé Nast, Dell Technologies, Digital Asset and General Electric Company.
The project also received support pledges from law firms Alston & Bird, Cozen O’Connor, DLA Piper’s US branch, Eversheds Sutherland, Fenwick & West, Holland & Hart, Linklaters, McDermott, Will & Emery, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Norton Rose Fulbright, Proskauer Rose, Reed Smith, Robins Kaplan, Willkie, Farr & Gallagher and Winston & Strawn.
Adam Fernandez, L4GG vice president of policy and strategic engagement, thanked Lawyers for Racial Justice’s supporters, as well as L4GG’s members and coalition partners from the civil and human rights community.
“Together we will work to ensure that all levels of government—national, state, and local—provide equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal justice to all,” he said.
L4GG outlined the existing and planned initiatives for the project as follows:
- Researching the legal landscape and drafting model legislation on the role of law enforcement personnel in schools, seeking to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in partnership with the Dignity in Schools coalition and others
- Providing essential information regarding the right to vote to historically marginalised populations in partnership with the NAACP and other civil rights organisations
- Ensuring access to safe and clean drinking water in communities of colour impacted disproportionately by climate change
“At a time during which the country is at an inflection point in moving toward racial justice, it is incumbent upon us as lawyers to direct the many resources of our profession toward creating systems that provide equal treatment, equal opportunities and equal justice for all people under the law,” said Kirkland & Ellis pro bono counsel Jacqueline Haberfeld. “We are grateful for the opportunity provided by the Lawyers for Racial Justice project of Lawyers for Good Government Foundation to work with other firms and in-house legal departments to strive together toward our collective goal of race equity for all.”
Kevin McCarthy, BNY Mellon’s senior executive vice president and GC, said that the legal community needed to lend its “talents, creativity and expertise to solve the multi-dimensional harms caused by systemic racism” through “thoughtful pro bono service.”
“BNY Mellon shares L4GG’s commitment to mobilising the legal community in the fight for racial equity and social justice. L4GG has the purpose, sense of urgency and organisational skills needed to turn this moment into a catalyst of long-term change. We are proud to be leaders in our support,” he said.
As part of Lawyers for Racial Justice, L4GG will be building a “nationwide network of pro bono attorneys,” the network said. A number of other law firms and in-house legal teams will contribute their efforts.
“We are extremely grateful to our partners, and thank them for joining us in this fight against racial injustice. As lawyers, we must use our voices and legal skills to demand and help cultivate systemic change,” L4GG executive director Traci Feit Love said.
The L4GG network comprises over 120,000 lawyers across all US states.