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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, August 21, 2020

Baker Donelson joins Antiracism Alliance




Baker Donelson has joined the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance. This recently formed coalition of more than 200 law firms is focused on utilizing private bar resources to assist legal services organizations in furthering their missions to dismantle barriers to opportunity in communities of color.

In response to a national call to support Black lives and advance race equity, the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute formed a partnership with the Association of Pro Bono Counsel to launch the LFAA.

The LFAA’s stated purpose is to “leverage the resources of the private bar in partnership with legal services organizations to amplify the voices of communities and individuals oppressed by racism, to better use the law as a vehicle for change that benefits communities of color and to promote racial equity in the law.”

“Events of the last few months have laid bare the numerous long-standing inequities and challenges that continue to face Black Americans and other people of color in our country,” says Mark Baugh, chair of Baker Donelson’s Diversity Committee. “As members of the legal profession, we are positioned to play not just an active but a leading role in bringing an end to the structural and systemic racism in our legal system.

“Being a part of the LFAA is just one of the ways in which Baker Donelson has committed to effecting change in our communities and to ensuring equality before the law.”

Jim Levine, a shareholder in Baker Donelson’s Chattanooga office and a member of the firm’s board of directors, says, “We have made it a top priority to become an industry-leading law firm in diversity and inclusion by 2025. Joining this national alliance is an important step in our march toward that goal.

“In addition to being on the right side of history, taking a stand against systemic racism and making sure our firm is reflective of our communities helps us to be better lawyers.

“Diversifying our workforce and reducing our unconscious biases improves the quality of our decision-making and helps us provide more innovative solutions for our clients.”

As an LFAA member firm, Baker Donelson will dedicate “substantial pro bono resources to initiatives that address systemic racism,” the firm says in a news release.

“In joining the LFAA, our goal is to bring the strength of Baker Donelson’s culture of pro bono service to partner with legal services organizations across the country on pro bono projects that are designed to bring about real and lasting change,” says Samuel Bowman, the firm’s pro bono shareholder. “We’re proud to be a part of this effort to protect and expand human rights and advance social justice for all.”

“Joining the LFAA allows us to combine resources with other law firms and legal services organizations so we can tackle systemic racism through collaborative advocacy,” adds Allie Weiss, Pro Bono Committee chair of Baker Donelson’s Chattanooga office. “I’m looking forward to seeing everything we accomplish together.”

In addition to committing pro bono resources, LFAA member law firms acknowledge their ongoing responsibility to increase diversity, equitable access to opportunities and inclusion of people of color within their ranks.

Also, in tandem with the LFAA’s pro bono efforts, the leaders of the LFAA law firms are committed to examining and eliminating internal policies and practices that might perpetuate racial inequities within law firm structures.

Source: Baker Donelson