Pro Bono & Community
Supporting Racial Justice
This Sunday is Juneteenth, which honors the end of slavery in the United States. On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed the bill officially naming Juneteenth a federal holiday. Juneteenth is a 157-year-old commemoration of freedom and an opportunity to recognize what pivotal point in American history the holiday represents and is also a reminder of why we at Paul Hastings must continue to be champions of change and work to achieve racial justice across the United States.
In 2020, Paul Hastings pledged action and support through four key initiatives – a $7m pro bono commitment to key racial justice projects, a Racial Equality Fund to support innovative charity partners, a Volunteer Day to serve in underrepresented communities, and a $10m Commitment to Equitable Education. Today, at the two year mark of this commitment, we have made great progress towards our goal. Read more about our efforts over the last two years below.
Over 200 Paul Hastings lawyers participated in projects aimed at addressing some of the root causes of systemic injustice. Our three-pronged approach targets three areas of systemic oppression:
- Voting Rights: We prepared several amicus briefs with the Brennan Center for Justice regarding restrictive voter identification laws often used to limit voter access for people of color across three states and in the U.S. Supreme Court. Several attorneys also participated in on-the-ground election protection work with the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, staffing voter hotlines and monitoring polling places.
- Police Reform: Our Model Acts for Policing initiative involved the drafting of mode legislation intended to be used as a guide or template by state legislatures or municipalities to improve existing disciplinary processes concerning police misconduct. Our goal remains to work with the Center for Policing Equity to collaborate and explore how our model acts may be useful.
- Criminal Justice Reform: We partnered with The Innocence Project to develop a nationwide survey on the admissibility of false confession expert testimony in criminal proceedings for each of the 50 states. A team of 30 attorneys from across the U.S. contributed to this effort.
Racial Equality Fund
Through the PH Racial Equality Fund, our firm family has provided more than $215,000 in support to three organizations on the frontline of the fight for racial justice: Equal Justice Initiative, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the Center for Policing Equity. The Fund is ongoing, and as of June 17, has a new home on the Paul Hastings Impact Website.
Volunteer Day (VTO)
The firm’s Volunteer Time Off program allows attorneys and staff to devote one scheduled workday per year to lend support to eligible organizations enacting positive change in our three areas of philanthropic focus: Equality, Justice, and Sustainability or that further the goals of our Commitment to Equitable Education. Since the program’s inception in 2020, numerous members of the Paul Hastings family have answered the call to action to help advance social change and volunteered more than 500 hours in the local community.
Lindsay Arrieta (Litigation, DC) volunteered with the National Equality Action Team on telephonic voter outreach in Georgia, helping educate voters on methods and deadlines, and making a plan to vote. “I had conversations with people who weren’t aware of the rules, and to help someone know their rights and make a plan to use them was very rewarding. In the past few election cycles, we’ve seen county and state races come down to the last few votes – so it really matters if that person is able to show up.”
Sabrina Callender-Clewett (Junior Paralegal, DC) spent her Volunteer Day with So Others Might Eat, organizing their Clothing Room which offers free clothing, shoes, and small home goods to people in need. “VTO gave me an opportunity to show up in person in a world that has been remote for so long, and to check in with myself and my community in a meaningful way.”
Katherine Berris (Litigation, DC) used her Volunteer Day to deepen her support of an organization she’s supported for several years – the Capital Area Foodbank. “Working in downtown DC you regularly see the amount of people needing help – it starts to seem like an insurmountable problem. At the end of the day, you see the hundreds of boxes stacked up that your team packed together and you can see the direct impact of your contribution. It’s powerful.”
Leah Henderson (Talent Management, LA) volunteered with First Generation Success. “I struggled to get my degree, as a single working mom and the first woman in my family to finish college. I can still remember every single person who helped me on my journey, and that’s why I am so passionate about helping others in that position. Your support system can be anyone–even someone you meet in line for coffee. I had been looking for an organization to volunteer with, and when I saw the opportunity I signed up right away to connect with someone who needs support.”
Bianca Sanchez (Talent Acquisition & Development, NY) volunteered with SEDES – System for Education Empowerment and Success. “It was exciting to see my colleagues from all different offices together on the same screen sharing with the clients from SEDES. Everyone was so engaged and interesting – it was not a quiet session! Service is important, and we have a culture of giving back that makes me proud to be a part of Paul Hastings.”
The VTO Program is ongoing – for more information on how you can use your Volunteer Day to have an impact visit the VTO Hub on the Portal.
Commitment to Equitable Education
The Firm has committed $10m in pro bono, volunteerism, and charitable giving to advancing global educational equity. So far in 2022, we have contributed $5.3m towards that goal – including $1.6m in direct cash grants to schools. The EEF has reached over 20,000 students in underserved communities throughout the US and Brazil for a wide range of innovative projects. From sustaining early literacy programs in Title 1 schools in Chicago, funding trauma-informed wraparound services to refugee students in Houston, to investing in STEM education for students of color in Los Angeles – these grants fund the innovative work of educators fighting for students in some of the country’s most under resourced communities.