Juneteenth, and Beyond: Our Commitment to Change
Today, Juneteenth, seems like a good day not only to reflect on this country’s checkered history of racism, but to look forward as to how we, as a law firm, can help implement positive change. Please take a moment of reflection on the importance of today in our nation’s history. I encourage all of us to learn about inequality, particularly with respect to the Black community. In that spirit, below are some of the measures that we will be taking immediately, in the hope that we can be an agent of change. And this is but a start to what we expect will be further commitment and action.
- All employees (attorneys, professional staff, specialists, etc.) will be encouraged to use Election Day, Nov. 3, to vote, and to engage in other related activity, such as participating in phone banks, poll-watching, transporting senior citizens and the disabled to polling places, etc. All employees will be given full credit for the day. It is of utmost importance that we vote, and help others do so, especially in this election that will have a profound impact on racism, social justice and respect for all of our citizens, regardless of race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disabilities, or otherwise. We also will seek to have other law firms across the country join us in this effort.
- We have signed on, along with several other law firms, to the Law Firm Anti-Racism Alliance, which is committed to devoting pro bono resources to combating systemic racism, reforming laws that are racist, and addressing policies and practices that perpetuate racism within law firms. We shall be devoting our resources to this effort. In addition, the firm will continue to undertake social justice reform work on a pro bono basis, as well as to other efforts to address racism and injustice.
- Capital Members will vote shortly on amending the Firm’s bylaws to have the Chair of our Diversity Committee occupy a permanent, voting position on the Policy Committee.
- The recruiting of Black attorneys shall be given even greater emphasis. The Firm has set the goal of a 50% increase in our number of Black attorneys by June 30, 2022. To reach this goal we will need the help of all of our attorneys in recruiting across the Firm. In addition, the Firm will add a summer position in its DC office beginning in 2021 for a 1L from the Howard University School of Law, to supplement our existing entry-level recruiting efforts.
- We are elevating our full-time diversity position from the level of Manager to the level of Director. The Director of Diversity, whom we are in the process of recruiting, will assist with our diversity strategic plan and our goals of inclusivity. The position will report directly to Chief Operating Officer David Ballinger.
- A new seat will be created at the Firm's Diversity Committee specifically for a staff member to recognize and address the concerns and interests of the staff.
- In March the Firm learned of an opportunity to strengthen its ties with the Boston Lawyers Group. BLG is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to supporting its member organizations’ efforts to identify, recruit, retain and advance attorneys of color. BLG was founded over 30 years ago, in part, by two of our former partners, Ann-Ellen Hornidge (now of counsel) and Andy Urban (recently retired). We have agreed to provide BLG with office space in our Boston office, which will be a homecoming of sorts as BLG had its office at Mintz in its early years. BLG is also looking to reinvigorate its executive committee, so we have also agreed that one of our attorneys will serve on its executive committee.
- The Firm will be creating a mixed media catalog featuring Black and other minority attorneys telling their stories, so that all of us can have the benefit of a more personal understanding of the unique challenges and circumstances our colleagues face every day. These stories will reside on Mintzport or some other internal database, from which all our employees can access them.
- We are looking into partnering with, both financially and through involvement in activities, an appropriate organization dedicated to addressing racism and inequities in our nation. This will be an ongoing project, and active involvement will play an important role.
- We are examining internal processes within the areas of Business Development, Human Resources, and Legal Recruiting to ensure that they do not stop at bias interruption but, instead, go further and embrace anti-racist ideals. We do not always have ready solutions for systemic or institutionalized inequities, but we are committed to working toward a better society and a better law firm.
These are the first steps in the efforts that we all will be making over the days, weeks, months and years to come. The problems we confront are not new and they will not be solved in a short period of time. But they need to be addressed, and the efforts need to be sincere and sustained, as we continue to strive toward making Mintz an employer of choice for all. We invite all of our colleagues, of all races, religions, ethnicities, genders, orientations, and backgrounds to join us in this effort. And, of course, to the many of you who have been making these efforts all along, thank you. Be well and stay safe.