Message from Chair Guy Halgren and the Sheppard Mullin Family
At Sheppard Mullin, we proudly affirm we are a welcoming, supportive, safe and inclusive place. We also recognize our obligation to participate in the larger dialogue and responses to the effects of systemic racism in this country. The Firm enthusiastically will redouble its efforts to be part of the solution.
To that end, we have formed a Task Force of attorneys and staff from throughout the Firm to lead our efforts to address the various issues around race, inclusion and equality, including those that have arisen out of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with regard to the Asian community, and out of recent events once again bringing to the fore the experience of the Black community. This Task Force is in addition to our robust Diversity & Inclusion program.
The Task Force will look both inward and outward. Its work will include providing resources and trainings on allyship, promoting cross-cultural understanding and dialogue, providing opportunities for the Firm and its members to support affected communities, supporting peaceful efforts to achieve racial justice, and assisting with issues related to COVID-19 related racism. We will determine how to best support the community through a number of avenues, including community service, pro bono, D&I organizational restructuring, and financial contributions. One of our initial pro bono projects will be leveraging our firm’s unique experience in several aspects of police reform in America, gained through the appointment of our firm and Partners Jonathan Aronie and David Douglass as the first federal monitor of the New Orleans Police Department.
The Executive Committee has committed $400,000 to the work of the Task Force, $100,000 of which comes from the court award for the Firm’s successful pro bono representation of people with disabilities in New York City enforcing their human right to safety in emergency situations, specifically during Hurricane Sandy in 2016. We anticipate the Task Force will invest a significant amount of the funds in the coming weeks and invest the rest over the next year.
This will not be a one-time investment or the primary focus of our response. While $400,000 is a lot of money, we recognize we cannot simply throw money at this problem, hope it will go away, and feel better about ourselves. Real change will require us to engage, let down our defenses, listen, do our best to put ourselves in the shoes of others with different life experiences, take action and persevere. Our Firm is committed to this endeavor and pledges we will do what it takes to make sure these times represent a turning point and not just an uncomfortable episode in our nation’s history.
Be well and courageous,