The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other colored people sparked a global movement. Millions marched in protest in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. National awareness of systemic racism spread.
And in its wake, the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA) was born.
The LFAA, a partnership between the Racial Justice Institute at the Shriver Center and the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, is working to advance racial justice and reform a judicial system that is tipped against color communities.
It began with around 125 companies signing in June 2020. Less than a year later, nearly 300 law firms – including more than a dozen from Michigan – have joined forces as the LFAA Alliance Firms to jointly tackle systemic racism.
And thanks to the LFAA’s ongoing round table discussions and summits, lawyers are being given new tools and resources to get the job done.
The first summit, held in late July, had more than 500 participants. Racial justice experts spoke on principles of anti-racism to help participants improve their understanding of the overlapping components of systems that create and sustain disadvantages for black communities and other colored communities to the benefit of white individuals and communities.
The second summit, held last October, had more than 600 participants and 70 experts chaired sessions on key issues.
Earlier this year, the LFAA hosted a dozen regional roundtables for bakers, including one for international organizations.
Do the work
Criminal justice reform and police affairs are among the main initiatives of the LFAA, but they are far from the only focus of the organization. Rules, policies and practices that promote and perpetuate racial inequality are also targeted.
The LFAA has set up multiple working groups that focus on a single issue – from access to justice to education to housing and home ownership – to effectively distribute time and resources.
Cheryl Bush, a founding member of BSP Law, said her firm signed as a member of the LFAA last year.
“We have attended the group’s webinars and are working to expand our involvement in the organization through their working groups,” she said. “The LFAA recently published a member bulletin with pro bono opportunities for attorneys.”
Perhaps the most popular is the voting rights working group.
Wendy Richards, pro bono director at Miller Canfield, co-chairs the group and chaired the proxy panel discussion at the LFAA’s second convocation, attended by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson with Myrna Perez, director of the Brennan Center, and Alora Thomas , lead attorney for the ACLU voting rights project.
Michelle Crockett, chief diversity officer and assistant executive officer at Miller Canfield, said the group is one of the largest – if not the largest – with more than 130 members from more than 60 companies.
“As co-chair, Wendy regularly advises national and local experts and stakeholders whose work focuses on the intersection of voting rights and racial justice. These discussions help shape the working group’s long-term goals, identify and articulate research assignments and projects, and consult with the working group’s subcommittees on ongoing issues, ”said Crockett. “As a result of these discussions, the group is currently in the planning phase of a large-scale research-based project to help document incidents of racial discrimination in elections.”
Khalilah Spencer, an inclusion, equity and social responsibility partner at Honigman, said the firm also focused on voting rights last year, and its attorneys were among the volunteer electoral workers at the TCF Center.
“Several lawyers are working on electoral protection efforts, and we have had many volunteers on the Michigan electoral protection line at 866-OUR-VOTE from September through election day,” she said. “Volunteer attorneys provided Michigan-specific information to voters who had questions about voting rights and voting.”
About the LFAA
The goal of the LFAA is racial justice. The goal is high and requires work. The primary method of doing this is to facilitate the pro bono work. And law firms are vital in working together to bring about systemic change and racial justice in the law.
According to the LLFA, the events of the past year have made clear the need for action and the responsibility of law firms in cooperation with legal service organizations to recognize and reduce structural and systemic racism in the law.
If your company would like to become an LFAA Alliance Firm, please click here.
Michigan Alliance Firms
Through the collaboration of more than 280 law firms, Alliance Firms have access to the LFAA Bulletin Board, a virtual community that enables them to identify and volunteer pro bono opportunities that target racial injustice in law. Michigan alliance companies include:
Bowman and Brooke
Dinsmore & Shohl
Foley & Lardner
Frost brown Todd
Trout Man Pepper
A complete list of companies can be found here.
SRLI working groups
The Systemic Racism Legal Inventory – or SRLI – is an ever-growing collection of research on laws, rules, regulations, and guidelines that the LFAA is developing with the aim of providing resources to reduce institutional racism.
Under the guidance of legal service colleagues and other experts, the SRLI working groups develop and expand the collective expertise of the group in order to best contribute to the reduction of systemic racism in the law. The SRLI working groups also work with experts to develop meetings and other programs to brief alliance companies on priority areas of focus. In partnership with the LFAA project committee, the working groups also support the pro bono opportunities that the LFAA offers for alliance companies.
Each of the working groups – made up of Alliance Firm volunteers – focus on the intersection of racial justice and an essential area of law.
Access to justice
Prevention and intervention of armed violence
Living & home ownership
Comments are closed.