Since the summer of 2020, lawyers and law firms have joined many corporations and institutions in reaffirming their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice. Our profession is a special one that requires us not only to make profits but to justly represent our clients and to further the rule of law and civil society with justice for all. Not all of us work directly in the service of social justice; therefore, it is imperative that we find a way to do and support the work within our firms and fields necessary to build a more just society. At the same time, we, lawyers of all practices and backgrounds, should each strive to take that same energy that grew out of the events of last summer and apply it to the service to communities in which we live and work.
That obligation is clear. How can we best respond? Many law firms have done a great deal: taking on pro bono cases, donating to large charities, and sponsoring events for well-established organizations that have been at work in their communities for generations. We cannot deny the contributions of many of these groups. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, a frequent beneficiary of big law philanthropy, has an indisputable record of representing many causes for racial justice and supporting Black attorneys as well. Additionally, it recently announced that it will devote millions of dollars to fully financially support Black law students through the length of their studies—another, much needed, step toward a more just society. There are numerous institutions engaged in related work. For many in the private legal industry, there may be a sense that there is so much more to do. Perhaps the ways that we have tried to right the many wrongs in our society, many elements of which have been built on and supported by interconnected systems of racism and oppression, through supporting advocacy and inviting marginalized colleagues into the fold, might not be the most efficient methods to cure persistent social justice and racial ills today.
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