Legal professionals work for justice for a living, and as such, are often viewed as leaders in their communities. This is especially true during crises. Law firms have a responsibility not just to make a statement about where they stand on the human rights issues at stake in America today, but to enact racial justice in their communities and workplace through a commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. If you, like many others, have struggled to know how to address your community and your staff in light of recent protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd, here are some tips.
Sit down with your team and make space to center Black voices. If you aren’t Black, listen to your colleagues and clients who have too often experienced discrimination in their lives. As a legal team, discuss your thoughts and feelings about where we are in America today, including topics such as privilege. As long as people are open to taking accountability, change becomes possible.
2. Take a stand and take action
Consider assembling a task force to determine the actions you can take to address issues of racial injustice and police-community relations in your city and how you’ll address systemic racism in your law firm. Workshops, targeted community engagement, and partnering with civic organizations are a good place to start. Communicate to your clients and community about where you stand and how you are addressing racial injustice by sending out a newsletter, emails, and taking a moment to talk to clients about these issues during your next call.
3. Educate yourself on the issues you aren’t familiar with
There are so many books, podcasts, and resources to explore in your journey toward dismantling systemic racism. Consider starting a workshop or book club with your law firm team, including partners and staff, in which you can create a safe space to discuss these important topics.
4. Work internally
It’s not just essential to address outright racism, but to identify the subtle and insidious ways racism rears its ugly head in the workplace and across organizations. Take a hard look at where you need to further your efforts internally, and create new policies that address those issues.
5. Give what you are best situated to give
Find how you are best positioned to advocate for justice, diversity, and equity. As a law firm, you can consider donating to organizations, and investing money and resources to make racial diversity and inclusion an inherent part of all organizations. Educate your community. Work toward enacting new legislation.
6. Make this an ongoing effort
The Black Lives Matter movement calls for long-term action and ongoing efforts to put an end to systemic racism that affects every facet of our society. The state of America today does not call for a quick statement and a return to the status quo. Review your law firm’s management policies regularly to ensure that diversity and inclusion remain central concern and make concerted efforts to prioritize antiracism in the many ways you perform your work.
Custom Legal Marketing is committed to racial equality and social justice and have consulted with our clients over these last few weeks to help them respond to recent events.
Cristina Fríes is a MA in English/Creative Writing from UC Davis (2019), and is a legal marketing strategist and content developer for CLM. Her interests include creating compelling marketing content, writing books, and traveling the world.