Social and Racial Justice Actions and Commitments
Foley Hoag is pleased to reiterate its strong support of the Black Lives Matter movement and ongoing efforts to achieve racial justice throughout the U.S. and in the cities in which we work and live. In 2020, we witnessed a heightened awareness of and response to the systemic racism against Black Americans and the Black community.
These momentous and significant events have afforded us the opportunity to reevaluate and consider our firm’s role in society. We believe that lawyers have a unique responsibility to ensure everyone has equal justice under the law. We would like to share with you important firm initiatives in response to police brutality, racial and social injustice, and our continued efforts to fight for equality and provide opportunities for all communities to thrive.
Foley Hoag Institutes Juneteenth as Permanent Annual Firm Holiday
In June 2020, the firm announced its intention to recognize Juneteenth (June 19) as an annual firm holiday. During these unprecedented times where Black Americans find themselves having to assert their humanity in the midst of a global health crisis, Juneteenth serves as a time for reflection and planning for the future. Its recognition signifies a degree of reckoning with America’s history that is long overdue.
The firm joined the ACLU of Louisiana’s litigation campaign to challenge racially discriminatory policing practices in the wake of the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and many named and unnamed others. The initiative, "Justice Lab: Putting Racist Policing on Trial," seeks over time, and in a sustained and deliberate fashion, to bring cases in Louisiana challenging racially-motivated stops and seizures under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments in an effort to test the impact that litigation can have on police conduct. Over thirty litigators at the firm, including a dozen partners, have signed up to work on this initiative and have participated in the ACLU's in-depth training. We look forward to co-counseling with the ACLU-LA on cases to be brought in federal court in Louisiana.
The firm is assisting with a number of voting rights initiatives, including Election Protection, convened by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which is establishing National Voter Hotlines and Election Day Field Programs to assist voters with problems and guide them throughout the voting process regardless of party affiliation. The firm also ensures that all personnel have the time to vote on Election Day and can dedicate time to voting rights initiatives if they so choose.
Other Pro Bono Opportunities
As part of Foley Hoag's commitment to the advancement of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion across the legal industry, the firm has joined the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA), an initiative created for law firms to dedicate substantial pro bono resources to combating systemic racism in long-term, high impact and collaborative ways. The Alliance includes the participation of more than 125 law firms. The summit trained law firm leaders on what it means to be antiracist, provided training on how to best collaborate with local impact organizations on pro bono litigation, and helped firms assess how to best allocate pro bono resources to combat systemic racism in long-term, high impact, and collaborative ways. The firm continues to support and encourage pro bono work, which is even more important during these times, and the Pro Bono Committee will continue to identify and publicize pro bono opportunities focused on promoting racial equality and justice.
Counseling and Support
We made available trauma/counseling support to our colleagues who have been impacted by recent events of police brutality in our nation.
Foley Hoag Foundation
As stated above, the firm made a $290,000 donation to the Foley Hoag Foundation to support a special and immediate round of micro-grants to 44 community organizations in Boston, Washington D.C., and New York, specifically working for racial justice. Since that time, we have been using our social media platforms to publicize these organizations and the critical work they are doing. Please click here to read more about these groups.
Training and Education
In June 2020, the firm's Executive Committee and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Department hosted "Race, Police, and the Criminal Legal System: How did we get here? Where do we go from here?" This firm-wide webinar featured civil rights attorney Alexis Hoag, who led an educational session on race and the history of policing and civil rights in our nation. The session was followed by an open and honest conversation on racial identity and racism.
In addition, we held two large-scale mandatory training programs – a Mitigating Unconscious Bias session for all personnel and an Inclusive Leadership Training program for all Partners and Directors.
We are at a pivotal moment in our country's history. The initiatives detailed above, provided several opportunities to do more to dismantle racist practices in policing and take a stand against widespread racial inequality in the United States.