On this week’s Legal Speak podcast, two prominent Washington, D.C., law firm leaders join The National Law Journal Editor in Chief Lisa Helem to discuss the weighty conversations that George Floyd’s death has generated across the country, inside the legal profession and beyond.
Floyd, an African American man, died in late May after a white police officer in Minneapolis pinned his knee into Floyd’s neck, prompting protests around the nation.
A. Scott Bolden and Ben Wilson, African American firm leaders based in Washington, D.C., discuss their own experiences with racism and the police, how they practice authentic leadership and their hopes for greater understanding and inclusion in the profession and more broadly.
For Bolden, D.C. office managing partner of Reed Smith, there’s a connection between Floyd’s life and his own. “I’ve lived the American dream, I’ve never been arrested before. I’m highly educated. I’ve scaled the top of Big Law … and yet I’ve got my story about the police.”
Wilson, chairman of Beveridge & Diamond, thought of Floyd’s death within the context of historical violence against African Americans: from the murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955 to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia in February and others. “There are names that would take, sadly, too long to call,” Wilson said.
Both express hope for greater dialogue, understanding and change. “It must be different. We have to be stubborn about this. We have to be determined about this,” Wilson said.