Paul Hastings LLP, a leading global law firm, announced today the launch of a number of initiatives in commemoration of this Friday’s Juneteenth ─ a national day of celebration memorializing the end of slavery in the United States.
On June 19th, 1865, more than two years after the effective date of the Emancipation Proclamation, and two months after the end of the Civil War, enslaved Black people in Texas first learned they were free. In recognition of this Freedom Day memorializing the end of slavery in America, the firm has announced:
A Paid Volunteer Day
To give everyone the opportunity to fight against inequality in their own personal way, Paul Hastings will grant attorneys and staff eight hours of paid volunteer time to support local and national organizations fighting for change. Attorneys and staff may use this time to lend support to organizations – local or national – addressing issues of racial inequality, social injustice, or supporting the Black community and other communities of color.
Pro Bono Commitment of at least $7 Million to End Racial Injustice
Paul Hastings will be working with several organizations to provide legal and financial support to charitable organizations focused on ending racial injustice in America. The firm’s effort will involve:
- Model Act for Police Disciplinary Review
To help improve the disciplinary or termination process for bad police officers, Paul Hastings will develop a model act that can be adopted by state legislatures and municipalities across the country. The act will help make investigations of and hearings on excessive force public. Organizations the firm hopes to collaborate with include the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and The Center for Policing Equity.
- Law Enforcement System Change
This initiative includes research and analysis geared toward potential trainings for law enforcement on use of force, what constitutes a legal stop, the state of the law when it comes to “reasonableness” and its implementation. The firm also plans to address the current legal definition of “reasonableness” and whether it runs afoul of the constitutional right to equal protection under the law, especially in consideration of implicit bias.
- Additional Partnerships
The firm will be supporting projects with both the Innocence Project and the Equal Justice Initiative.
PH Racial Equality Fund
The Fund was established to provide financial support to charitable organizations focused on ending racial injustice in America. The Firm, along with Paul Hastings’ Black Affinity Network, has identified three particular organizations leading the fight for equality that this fund will support:
- Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and racially imbalanced punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
- Center for Policing Equity aims to provide leadership in equity through excellence in research. Their mission is a deep concern for equity and inclusiveness within the police department itself and between the police departments and the communities they serve.
- Brennan Center for Justice Voting Rights Project is an independent, nonpartisan law and policy organization that works to reform, revitalize, and when necessary, defend our country's systems of democracy and justice. Their Voting Rights reforms are modernizing American elections, working to ensure that voting is free, fair, and easy.
Paul Hastings will launch the PH Racial Equality fund with an initial contribution of $100,000. All firm attorneys and professionals are invited to contribute, and the impact of donations will be doubled with a matching contribution from the Firm.
An Equitable Education Fund
Paul Hastings’ believes one of the most impactful ways to fight racial injustice is to empower individuals through education. Paul Hastings’ Diversity & Inclusion Council will allocate funds each year among our offices to support local schools in traditionally underserved communities of color. Countering systemic socio-economic inequality by providing access to critical resources will be the focus of the donations.
Ongoing Firm-Hosted Conversations About Being Black in America
This is the latest in Paul Hastings’ responses to the series of racial injustices occurring nationwide. The firm recently hosted “A Conversation about Being Black in America” with diversity expert Michelle Silverthorn, Founder and CEO of Inclusion Nation, which provided a platform for attorneys and staff to share their concerns and hear how everyone can be an active part of the solution to help end the injustices and inequality that plague our country. The program kicked off with Managing Partner Greg Nitzkowski and Diversity Chair K Whitner providing opening remarks. This was followed by a dialogue with a small group comprised of two partners, an associate, and the firm’s head of Recruiting, who shared intimate stories about their experiences as Black professionals and what they would like to see from allies. The program was followed by a series of closed town halls with Black attorneys and professional staff, with plans to continue in the foreseeable future.
“Ending social inequality is a fight that must be fought on many fronts, and we believe it is important to be intentional and purposeful about our efforts to drive meaningful change in our communities,” said Seth Zachary, the firm’s chairman. “Though we have much work to do, these are just some of the many steps we are taking to stand together with our Black colleagues and all those who suffer from racism and oppression.”
At Paul Hastings, our purpose is clear — to help our clients and people navigate new paths to growth. With a strong presence throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the U.S., Paul Hastings is recognized as one of the world’s most innovative global law firms.