The Racial Justice Imperative: Litigation, Mediation, and Arbitration

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USA: The Imperative of Racial Justice

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May 25, 2020, our nation, and the world, witnessed the murder of George Floyd. His murder made it impossible for our country to continue to engage in a collective and deliberate “ignorance” of the ways in which racism pervades our society and leads to the devaluation and destruction of Black lives. The protests that followed created a shift in our consciousness, an understanding of the structural nature of racism and the multifaceted and interconnected ways Black people in the United States are affected and disadvantaged from birth to death.

In what is now known as the “post-George Floyd” era, businesses and institutions across the country continue to proclaim their support for Black lives, racial justice, equity, and inclusion. For Kramer Levin, it was vitally important to match our words with action, our beliefs with practice. As a result, in June 2020, Kramer Levin established the Racial Justice Initiative to maximize the firm’s ability to address racial and social justice issues. This important initiative, led by the firm’s Pro Bono Committee, pursues pro bono opportunities focused on racial injustice and inequality, including criminal justice reform, which has been a long-standing focus of the firm’s pro bono work. . The two main leaders of the initiative are partners Christopher S. Auguste and Steven S. Sparling. The initiative focuses its efforts on four main areas: litigation, transactional/corporate support, voting rights, and community outreach.

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The firm’s Racial Justice Initiative is groundbreaking in its size, scope, and focus on work that makes a definite impact. More than 150 volunteers (staff and attorneys) participate in this work. Programs include:

  1. The Veterans Assistance Project, which, in partnership with the City Bar Justice Center and others, helps disabled veterans, mostly people of color, apply for medical benefits after they have been denied ;
  2. represent Black and Latino LGBTQ refugees fleeing persecution in a lawsuit to block the previous administration’s destructive overhaul of the asylum system;
  3. collaborate with NYC Business Solutions offices in Harlem and Morningside Heights to help low- and low-income entrepreneurs as they restart, maintain and grow their businesses;
  4. volunteering as nonpartisan election monitors on Election Day on behalf of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund;
  5. work with the Legal Aid Society to help guide people who file complaints with the Civil Complaints Review Board, particularly regarding police violence or mis-arrests;
  6. join the Legal Service Volunteers to defend claimants in unemployment hearings;
  7. partner with Trust Law to provide a legal “health check” workshop for social businesses serving Black and Latino communities;
  8. represent the new Universal Hip Hop Museum in matters related to the construction of the museum space in the South Bronx, which is anticipated to be completed in 2023 and open to the public in 2025;
  9. working with the Legal Aid Society to file Article 78 proceedings in New York State Court, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, related to the NYPD’s gang database, which is 98% black or latino; Y
  10. representing the American Civil Liberties Union and its local Montana chapter in filing an amicus curiae brief supporting superior claims by a Native American woman against the Bureau of Indian Affairs for rape by one of its officers.
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Most recently, and in keeping with our commitment to racial justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion, Kramer Levin launched a Racial Justice Initiative Scholarship program for 1L law students at select New York City law schools. New York. Kramer Levin RJI Fellows participate in limited-scope monthly RJI clinics focused on combating racial injustice and inequality. RJI Clinics help RJI Fellows further their legal careers by exposing them to the practice of law in a real-world setting where they are supervised and supported by practicing attorneys.

Our Racial Justice Initiative will continue to evolve to address an ever-changing world. Although the challenges are great and enduring, we are prepared to face them, firm as we are in our values ​​and our commitment to racial justice.

Originally Posted by Savoy

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