Hogan Lovells announces pro bono commitment and matched giving effort to advocate for racial justice
Washington, D.C., 19 June 2020 – Global law firm Hogan Lovells has made a formal pledge to devote at least 65,000 pro bono hours through 2023 to breaking down the deeply rooted, systemic barriers in society that profoundly impact people of color.
The firm is also working to identify local opportunities that enable its people to engage in this commitment through community-based volunteering. The focus will be on combating discrimination in the areas of housing and economic justice, criminal justice, and voting rights, working with a range of nonprofits already active in these areas.
In addition, Hogan Lovells will match up to US$200,000 in donations by its people to organizations combating racial discrimination and injustice in addition to US$100,000 which has already been committed by individual members of the Board and International Management Committee.
“Our duty as lawyers – and as human beings – is to actively and aggressively do whatever we can to address racial discrimination and the abhorrent mistreatment of people of color,” said Miguel Zaldivar, incoming CEO of Hogan Lovells. “A few ways to do so are through the provision of pro bono legal services, community-based volunteering, and fundraising, which are central to our renewed focus on advancing racial justice.”
Zaldivar, who is the only Latino CEO at an Amlaw 50 law firm, continued: “I’ve seen first-hand the damage that racial discrimination can cause, and I’ve made supporting diversity and inclusion at Hogan Lovells one of my strategic priorities.”
Matched fundraising support in the United States will be directed to the Equal Justice Initiative; Howard University’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center; and the Vera Institute of Justice. Local offices outside of the U.S. will determine which racial justice organizations to support in their own communities.
Following the firm’s public condemnation of the killing of George Floyd in May, more than 1,400 people came together for an internal town hall to share with senior management their concerns, frustrations, fears, and anger. The firm has hosted 11 healing conversation forums with its in-house counselor and is offering Identity Circles to support underrepresented colleagues and encourage allies to step up and take action. The firm provided its people in the U.S. with a day’s leave for reflection on 5 June as well as to commemorate Juneteenth on 19 June.
“Our coordinated and comprehensive response builds on more than 50 years of racial justice advocacy at the firm,” said Pro Bono Partner T. Weymouth. “We are proud to continue the fight for equality, and we know there is much more work to be done. We are using our time and skills to address individual instances of racial discrimination, as well as policies, practices, and social conditions that disproportionately affect people of color.”
Susan Bright, incoming Global Managing Partner for Diversity & Inclusion and Responsible Business said: “We are cultivating a strong culture of inclusion which starts by recognizing our differences and respecting and valuing those differences in what we bring to our work, our clients, and our communities.”
The firm is also working with the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Professor Tendayi Achiume, to examine use of force and accountability issues for law enforcement worldwide. Her ground-breaking work is expected to guide member states on best practices in line with the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Notes to Editors:
Below are some recent highlights of the firm’s work in advancing racial justice in the United States, particularly given the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on minority communities:
- Advising several civil rights and racial justice groups in filing a federal lawsuit calling for the release of people inside East Baton Rouge Parish Prison due to the COVID-19 spread.
- Filing an Amicus Brief and Declaration on behalf of Edgardo Cortés, Virginia’s first Commissioner of Elections, in support of the absentee voting accommodations made by Virginia to protect voters from potential exposure to the coronavirus.
- Filing a class action lawsuit against Mississippi’s two largest prisons on behalf of the approximately 6,000 individuals housed at these facilities, alleging the prisons have taken inadequate steps to prevent infection and mitigate an outbreak of COVID-19.
- Filing a lawsuit with the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of residents of Tidewater Gardens and Calvert Square, the residents of the St. Paul’s Quadrant, its tenant group, a Norfolk resident long waiting for affordable housing and harmed by the demolition of the three public housing communities, and the New Virginia Majority.
Recent work that highlights the firm’s approach to advancing racial justice elsewhere around the world includes:
- The UN Special Rapporteur for Contemporary Forms of Racial Discrimination: This has involved over 30 volunteers across 12 offices worldwide – London, Dubai, Munich, Madrid, Brussels, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Luxembourg, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin. We have also made available a legal tech platform to the Special Rapporteur to enable her to more easily compare information over jurisdictions on themes such as use of force, complaints and accountability mechanisms and law enforcement training. This will inform her approach to international advocacy with Member States.
- Working in the UK to develop training programs for young members of minority groups to educate them on their legal rights when it comes to the rules governing stop and search, and stop and account by the police as well as the Equality Act.
- In London, creating London Lives, a collaboration of corporate and youth charities, who wanted to tackle rapidly increasing incidents of knife crime. Currently we are working on a collaboration to connect local opportunities with young people, whether that be local football clubs, grassroots youth charities, or mentoring programs and use the firm’s pro bono practice capacity to build not-for-profit organisations who work with at risk youth, so they are more robust and able to seek public funding.
- We continue to support financially distressed individuals to apply for public welfare benefits. During the COVID19 crisis our help for individuals threatened with financial insecurity has increased five-fold with over 60% of our service going to members of the BAME community.
- Working in Japan on asylum applications for refugees and are working towards a new pro bono initiative with Asian University for Women, the majority of whom are Rohingya Students.
- Supporting the labor rights of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong who can face exploitation by their employers.