Racial and Social Justice
O’Melveny recognizes it has a special responsibility to fight bigotry in all its forms. And now, at a time when resurgent white supremacy poses an increasing threat in the US and around the world, we know it is more urgent than ever to stand in solidarity with those who have experienced racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, and other expressions of intolerance.
Redoubling Our Efforts to Help Dismantle Systemic Racism
From Bill Coleman’s key role in Brown v. Board of Education to Warren Christopher’s Christopher Commission report on police brutality, O’Melveny and its lawyers have long committed themselves to advancing civil rights and social justice. The firm pledged to redouble its efforts after the killings of George Floyd and other unarmed Black men and women, and amid a pandemic that has disproportionately affected Americans of color, laying bare the deep and persistent inequities that undermine our society’s ideals.
As a first step, we formed a Racial Justice Committee to advise the firm’s leadership on issues of racial justice and equity, helping to promote an open dialogue and soliciting a range of viewpoints about challenges inside and outside the firm. The RJC is working closely with many of the firm’s existing committees and groups, including our Diversity & Inclusion, Pro Bono, Corporate Social Responsibility, Alumni, and Management teams, to coordinate internal and external engagements and actions.
So much work lies ahead, but the RJC has already launched several initiatives, including collaborative pro bono engagements and volunteer opportunities with outside organizations, exploring fellowship opportunities for our people, and expanding our training programs. The RJC has been instrumental in:
- Coordinating three separate $25,000 donations by the firm to The Advancement Project, Color of Change, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund;
- Securing the firm’s commitment as a founding member of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, a coalition of law firms committed to using the private legal community’s resources to promote racial equity;
- Partnering with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to challenge the potential conflicts created by St. Louis prosecutors joining the police union and becoming members of the same bargaining unit; and
- Collaborating with other major law firms to help achieve the repeal of New York’s Section 50-a, which had allowed law enforcement agencies to shield police disciplinary records, a victory for transparency that Governor Cuomo signed into law on June 12.
And because racial justice is everyone’s responsibility, we continue to discuss these vital issues and coordinate efforts in local offices across our firm.
Taking a Stand on Antisemitism
Antisemitism and anti-Jewish violence are not new, but both are on the rise in the US and around the world, and it is disturbing. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has documented incidents and expressions of antisemitism across every platform—from Facebook and Twitter to TikTok and Instagram—with hateful messages and images. An analysis of Twitter from just one week in May found more than 17,000 tweets using variations of the phrase, “Hitler was right.” In 2019, the ADL counted 2,107 antisemitic incidents in the United States alone, up 12% from 2018, and the most since 1979.
These acts fundamentally undermine a democratic, pluralistic society. Along with our Jewish colleagues, friends, and families, we will urgently work together to eradicate antisemitism. Our Chair reinforced the firm’s commitment to this fight, joining leaders from several other firms in raising their voices against antisemitism.
Tackling AAPI Hate
The senseless shooting deaths of eight people in Georgia, six of them Asian American women, were the latest attacks in a disturbing wave of violence targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that launched last year to track violence and harassment against Asian American Pacific Islanders, received more than 2,808 reports in 2020. Sadly, the hate and discrimination aimed at the AAPI community is not new. Cultural and systemic racism against these groups has an ugly history in the US. But for too many of us, this longstanding problem only came into focus in the wake of the pandemic, with the rise in disgusting coronavirus-related slurs and shocking acts of aggression.
O’Melveny stands with our AAPI colleagues, friends, and family and pledges to urgently work together to root out intolerance and xenophobia. Our firm is committed to better understanding and vigorously addressing the unique challenges our AAPI colleagues face and to seek the most effective means to assist AAPI people and communities.
We will share more about our ongoing efforts as we continue to do our part to promote racial justice, equity, and empowerment.
|Bradley J. Butwin
O'Melveny & Myers LLP
of Diversity & Inclusion
of Pro Bono