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A MESSAGE OF SOLIDARITY – Greenberg Traurig’s Social, Racial, and Economic Justice Action Plan

In the face of injustice, Greenberg Traurig’s Social, Racial, and Economic Justice Action Plan commits to upholding the rule of law and equality for all.

More deeply than ever before, we join the voices against racism. We are listening. We see you. We are with you. As lawyers we have a responsibility to drive change, fight injustice, and advocate for justice. Never has it been more critical than now for us to recognize that role and opportunity and to act on it. We do a great deal. But it’s not enough. The murder of George Floyd — and those who came before and since him unfortunately — are stark reminders that we need to do more and stand up and ensure justice and respect for all. This is our time to listen. To have those uncomfortable conversations. To have the courage to act and to do our part. It is way past time.

More than ever, all of us need to come together.

TAKING ACTION; DRIVING FORWARD

Diversity, equity, inclusion and respect for the individual are part of GT’s core values. We have redoubled our commitment to live and act on those values through the pillars of our Social, Racial, and Economic Justice Action Plan. These pillars focus on serving as community leaders, supporting and training our talent, and supporting programs that address systemic racism in our society and seek to provide impoverished communities and individuals with essential economic, social, and cultural rights.

GT is proud to commit $5 Million over the next five years to support programs that address the causes and effects of systematic racism in our society, and seek to provide impoverished communities and individuals economic, social, and cultural rights.  One of the marquee components of this commitment will be supporting GT’s Equal Justice Works fellows dedicated to addressing racial, social, and economic justice issues.

GT has updated guidelines for the firm’s U.S. associates intended to reward and incentivize participation in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as Community and Civic activities effective July 1, 2020. Associates will receive up to 50 hours of billable equivalent credit for work on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives and 25 hours for activities that serve to advance Community and Civic interests. The firm’s associates also receive 100 hours of billable equivalent credit for pro bono legal work, 25 of which are mandatory for associates.

Greenberg Traurig has rolled out the Social Justice Action Academy with aims to: 

  • Educate and train GT employees on matters of race, justice, and equity;
  • Facilitate and encourage Courageous Conversations on the topics of race and social justice; and
  • Drive forward meaningful change consistent with the action plan.

The Equality Toolkit, a key Academy offering, is designed to address the need for education, resources, and information to equip members of the GT community to be leaders within the firm, with our clients and business partners, and the communities in which we work and live on topics of race, inclusion, and equity.

The Academy’s “Courageous Conversations” includes a series of internal and external programs where we will have the chance to hear about personal experiences, as well as what others are learning – all with the goal of elevating our collective empathy and creating positive change.

Past guests and topics include: 

June 23, 2021

Allyship in Color: Moving to Action the third in a multi-part series. This program focused on social currency, how and when to use it effectively. Moderator Charlton Copeland, Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law, and GT attorneys Sandra Gonzalez, Shareholder White Collar & Special Investigations; Alexander Kim, Shareholder Intellectual Property & Technology; Deepi Miller, Of Counsel Litigation; Philip Person, Shareholder Labor & Employment; John Richards, Shareholder Labor & Employment; and Debra Sydnor, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. 

June 2, 2021

A “Look Back”: A Year Since George Floyd with keynote speaker Juliette Pryor, Executive Vice President, Corporate Secretary and General Counsel, Albertsons Companies, talked about her experiences individually and as a leader in the past year since George Floyd’s death in the midst of a pandemic, where we “go” from here to achieve equity, and discuss what challenges might lay ahead. 

May 27, 2021

The Rise of Anti-Asian Sentiment and How to Impact Change, an Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month Conversation with special guests Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY 6th District); and A.B. Cruz, III, President of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA); and GT attorneys Chinh H. Pham, Shareholder and Co-Chair, Asian American Affinity Group; and Sandy Chiu, Law Clerk/JD Intellectual Property & Technology, addressed the rise of Anti-Asian sentiment, how to impact change, and the importance of participation from Asian Americans in government.

April 28, 2021

A Covid Equity & Inclusion Discussion with Dr. Regan Marsh, Senior Technical Lead, COVID-19 Response, U.S. Public Health Accompaniment Unit at Partners In Health; and Dr. Sonya Shin, Founding Director of Community Outreach & Patient Empowerment (COPE) Program; and GT attorneys, John Voorhees, Shareholder Environmental Law; and Troy Eid, Shareholder & Co-Chair American Indian Law Practice Group, discussed the issues surrounding healthcare equity and inclusion, COVID-19 and the economic issues impacting underserved communities’ access to healthcare revealed by the pandemic. 

April 7, 2021

Allyship in Color moderated by Charlton Copeland, Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law, with GT attorneys, Sandra Gonzalez, Shareholder White Collar & Special Investigations; Alexander Kim, Shareholder Intellectual Property & Technology; Deepi Miller, Of Counsel Litigation; Philip Person, Shareholder Labor & Employment; John Richards, Shareholder Labor & Employment; and Debra Sydnor, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, shared personal experiences of allyship, and discussed how individuals from historically underrepresented groups can be effective allies to each other despite vast differences in culture and societal needs. 

March 3, 2021

How Inclusion Powers the Economy with Raphael Bostic, President & CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shared how organizations and their leaders can participate in the betterment of communities and businesses through the promotion of equality and opportunity. Attendees gained a deeper understanding of how inclusion impacts the economy and why it is good for business. 

 

Feb. 25, 2021

Black History Month Fireside Chat with keynote Speaker, Chaka M. Patterson, Adtalem Global Education’s Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary. Chaka presented his experiences as a leader in law and business and his thoughts on “belonging, managing up, and showing up” as a professional. He also focused on how corporations can be catalysts for change when leaders personally and actively support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

 

Feb. 10, 2021

Allyship in Black and White moderated by Charlton Copeland, Professor of Law & Dean's Distinguished Scholar at the University of Miami School of Law, with GT attorneys, Laurie Gildan, Shareholder Real Estate; Glenn Meier, Of Counsel Litigation; and Michael Nicodema, Shareholder Litigation, shared personal experiences of allyship and discussed how individuals from majority groups can be allies for marginalized or underrepresented persons. 

 

Jan. 14, 2021

Taking Action on Criminal Justice Reform was a follow up to GT’s earlier program in which GT attorney, Karen Kennard, courageously shared the personal story of her family’s experience with the criminal justice system when her oldest brother, Tim Cole was wrongly convicted of a crime. Bobby Harris, President/CEO Unincarcerated Minds Inc.; and Caroline Heller, Shareholder and Global Pro Bono Program Chair Litigation, joined Karen for a roundtable discussion on criminal justice reform and actions anyone can take to create lasting impact, regardless of their background. 

 

Oct. 27, 2020

GT attorney Karen Kennard, Shareholder Governmental Law & Policy, discussed Criminal Justice reform and the profound impact it has had on her and her family. Her oldest brother, Tim Cole, was the first person in Texas to receive a posthumous exoneration and posthumous pardon. The Texas exoneration compensation system and the Texas Innocence Commission are named in his honor. 

 

July 28, 2020

Running a Business in a Socially “Woke” World with Marc Morial, President & CEO of the National Urban League and former Mayor of New Orleans, discussed how corporations can assist in healing by supporting organizations that advance social justice and racial equity, while achieving their business goals. 

 

July 16, 2020

GT attorney A. Michael Pratt, Shareholder Litigation, discussed an ALM Op-Ed, “A Black Father’s Letter to His Black Son: ‘My Mission is to Keep You Safe’”, which captured the duality of celebrating his son’s college graduation marked by the pain and sadness of grieving the death of George Floyd and so many others. He previously served as chief deputy city solicitor charged in the commercial litigation division for the City of Philadelphia Law Department.

 

In May 2021, GT joined The Alliance for Asian American Justice (The Alliance). The Alliance is a national pro bono initiative committed to providing legal support and advocacy to victims of anti-Asian hate.

Comprising Fortune 1000 general counsel and top law firms throughout the country, The Alliance is designed to coordinate and drive pro bono resources from member firms on behalf of victims to assist and support them in obtaining legal remedies. Victims of anti-Asian hate crimes often lack access to legal services and support due to language and cultural barriers, among other inhibiting factors. The Alliance has said it will work with victims to bring lawsuits seeking compensatory and other civil remedies or to collaborate with law enforcement so that those committing the attacks are brought to justice. The Alliance will also help victims find specialized legal services, social services, and other community support.

The Alliance also works in collaboration with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and other frontline legal, civil rights, and community organizations.

GT was one of more than 60 law firms that signed on to the Houston Bar Association's Gender Fairness Commitment, making a pledge to increase the number of female partners and firm leaders.

The pledge tasks firms with developing an internal set of "specific, objective criteria" that will be used for evaluating and promoting women to leadership positions, and also asks that they develop and promote policies that will aid the advancement of female attorneys and achieve gender parity.

In addition to those three objectives, the pledge asks the participating law firms to work toward achieving four other goals: to have processes under which feedback can be gathered from employees about the advancement of women; to offer networking, mentoring and client development opportunities to women; to encourage female attorneys to participate in "career-advancing projects" that will prepare them for leadership roles; and to allow flexible work arrangements for all attorneys.

Greenberg Traurig has signed on to McDonald’s pledge to diversify its supply chain. In July 2021, McDonald’s pledged to commit about 25% of its annual domestic supply-chain spending to suppliers that are owned by women and minorities by 2025 along with implementing measures including annual equity and inclusion training for employees, boosting minorities’ representation in leadership and tracking, and sharing efforts to improve equality. Greenberg Traurig proudly shares in this commitment to diversify our supplier base even more in the coming years.

Greenberg Traurig’s Orlando Office was one of almost 100 businesses in Orlando to join its “Take the Pledge” Initiative, the first-ever regional corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion Pledge. This initiative focuses on raising the growth potential of residents by creating opportunities for those long-affected by racial inequality and ensuring pathways for participation in the economy.

By taking the pledge, we are committing that:

  • We will educate ourselves, review examples and share insights through partner organizations such as non-profits and educational institutions into the history of systemic racism throughout our region and the barriers it continues to present today.
  • We will create opportunities for sessions to listen to those affected and marginalized by these barriers to learn how we can help, with follow up on actionable areas focusing on what’s working, what needs improvement and where we can be most effective.
  • We will identify, support, and collaborate with specific non-profits and other partner organizations who work tirelessly in marginalized and vulnerable communities, asking for careful review of work in marginalized sectors in our region and identify the work still to be done.
  • We will use our power, influence and position to amplify unheard voices and endorse policies that lead to racial justice and opportunities for all.
  • We will improve the employment, training, wage equity, growth potential, advancement, support and success of black and brown people in our workplace, workforce and marketplace, and commit to ways that minority owned businesses are intentionally included in pipeline opportunities. We will pledge to remove barriers, diversify our talent pool and create upward mobility employment opportunities through implementing skills-based hiring as an innovative hiring practice.
  • We will continue ongoing conversations with CEOs and executive leaders to collectively address issues of social injustice, racism, and biases in our communities and organizations, confirming within organizations DEI is a strategic imperative with demonstrated commitment and actions.
  • We acknowledge the critical importance of accountability to our community and pledge to collaborate in annual efforts to track and report our contributions to the collective (regional) goal of creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive business community.
  • We will support efforts to implement effective community-based models that improve conditions within vulnerable communities throughout Central Florida, using our voices and position to amplify and elevate examples of success.

On Friday, June 19, 2020, and Friday June 18, 2021, Greenberg Traurig observed Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, as a firm holiday in our U.S. offices. We do this in continued solidarity with all who seek a better way forward and as part of our Social, Racial and Economic Justice Action Plan.

In June 2020 Greenberg Traurig raised nearly $110,000 for more than 31 charitable organizations focused on racial, social, and economic justice reform. We will continue to coordinate related staff and lawyer volunteer opportunities in furtherance of equity and what is right.

DIVERSE VOICES

October 30, 2021 | Ernest LaMont Greer | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Opinion: Given Law’s Importance, America Needs More Black Lawyers

September 7, 2021
2020 GT DE&I Report 

August 23, 2021
GTWI: 2021 Mid-Year In Review

June 29, 2021 | GT Podcast
Good in Practice | Episode 17: This is Always Who I've Been: The Importance of Pro Bono Name Changes in the Trans Community Pt. 2

June 22, 2021 | Jaret L. Davis | Yosbel A. Ibarra 
6 ways to build diversity into workplace culture

May 27, 2021 | Akiesha Gilcrist Sainvil | Enjoliqué Aytch Lett 
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments

January 29, 2021 | Vanessa Albert Lowry
Big Law Must Reach Out, Work With Local Groups to Support Social Justice

August 31, 2020 | Ernest LaMont Greer
BigLaw Needs More Underrepresented Attorneys As Leaders

June 25, 2020 | John R. Richards | Nicholas A. CorsanoCorporate Counsel
Practical Implications for Employers on Recent SCOTUS Ruling Giving Title VII Protection for LGBT+ Employees

June 18, 2020 | A. Michael PrattThe American Lawyer
A Black Father's Letter to His Black Son: 'My Mission Is to Keep You Safe'

June 03, 2020 | Jaret L. Davis The Miami Herald
Jaret Davis, power lawyer and ‘large black man:’ Admitting mutual pain is first step

May 31, 2020 | Ernest LaMont Greer The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Opinion: America has lost its heart and that hurts us all

March 18, 2020 | Wendy Johnson Lario | Kristine J. Feher | Raquel S. LordNew Jersey Law Journal
Practical Approaches to Making Workplaces Inclusive of Transgender Workers

October 11, 2019 | Ese Overo-Tarimo The Lawyer
Black History Month: Diversity should be enriching – so why is the legal profession still walking on eggshells?

September 1, 2019 | Malcolm James IngramPhilly Ad News
Minimizing Unconscious Bias with Deliberate Diversity & Inclusion Strategies

December 27, 2018 | G. Michelle FerreiraDaily Journal
Recruiting diverse attorneys begins with an inclusive environment

October 3, 2018 | Sandra D. Gonzalez | The Texas Lawbook
World Traveler Seeks to Challenge Implicit Biases

May 8, 2018 | Allison Ng | American Bar Association
Diversity and Inclusion in the Law: Challenges and Initiatives