Since its earliest days, WilmerHale has been guided by an unwavering commitment to the pursuit of equal justice.
Over our many decades of practice, our firm has witnessed the recurring cycles of progress and reversal that have characterized the slow march toward equality, inclusion and justice in the United States. Through those decades, we have embraced our responsibility, as lawyers, to help those whose freedom and opportunity have been impeded by systemic inequities, or whose very survival has been threatened by hate, discrimination, xenophobia and violence.
Today, as the wealth gap widens; our nation reels from the deaths of unarmed Black Americans at the hands of police and fellow civilians; the Asian American and Pacific Islander community faces a surge of hate incidents and violence; the Jewish community becomes the target of escalating attacks; hard-won voting rights are threatened; and women and LGBTQ people still face barriers to equity, personal autonomy and advancement, we reiterate our guiding principles. We condemn prejudice in any guise, whether based on race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation or gender identity, and we are committed to the pursuit of a fairer and more equitable system for all, using the formidable power of the law.
We have recently expanded our pro bono efforts with a Racial Justice Reform Initiative that adds an expanding list of matters involving civil rights, police reform, voting rights, and economic access to a legacy of work that has spanned the death penalty, marriage equality, asylum, family separation, disability rights, press freedom, and educational opportunity, among many other issues.
We have also turned our gaze inward, to reckon with our own progress toward diversity, equity and inclusion. We have laid the groundwork, but there is much more we must do to support the recruitment, professional development and advancement of lawyers from communities that have historically been, and remain, underrepresented in the legal profession. We also want to apply the same lens in supporting our professional staff. The more we grapple with the societal inequities and systemic barriers that affect those outside our firm, the more we recognize their impact on those around our own table.
- Following the tragic killing of George Floyd in May 2020, firm management led fundraising efforts for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (National), and the VERA Institute for Justice.
- Annually, we pledge to select two fellows to work at any civil rights organization committed to addressing issues related to systemic racism, criminal justice and police accountability. Senior Associate Nina Garcia, the firm’s current Payton fellow, is working with Lawyers for Civil Rights in Boston, and Senior Associate Keun Young Bae, the firm’s current Pickering fellow, is working with the City Bar Justice Center in New York.
- We have established a Racial Justice Reform Initiative for a variety of efforts focused on addressing police reform and other social inequities affecting Black people in the United States.
- We are committed to addressing police accountability and meaningful reform through pro bono work, tapping into our lawyers’ experience both within and outside the government, and their work with civil rights organizations. We expect that others in our community will join our ongoing and rapidly expanding efforts.
- Our Executive Diversity and Inclusion Counsel and Diversity Committees are leading our internal efforts to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace, and we are proud to work with organizations such as Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, Diversity Lab, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, and the Law Firm Anti-Racism Alliance, which are priming the pipeline of diverse legal talent and holding law firms accountable for measurable change.
- We are following our long tradition of joining with organizations that have consistently led the way in pro bono representation addressing both individual and systemic injustice, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Innocence Network, Lawyers Clearinghouse, the Legal Aid Society, and countless other national, regional and local nonprofits and legal aid organizations.
- We continue to provide legal assistance to members of our community, as well as others, who are arrested in any peaceful protest.
- We have joined with other leading law firms to release a statement condemning the recent surge in anti-Semitic attacks and vitriol.
These are the initial steps in our efforts to ensure meaningful change, and we continue to build on and expand this work.