Paul, Weiss Launches Dedicated Civil Rights and Racial Equity Audit Practice
July 19, 2022 Read the press release
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP today announced the launch of a new Civil Rights and Racial Equity Audit Practice, which is among the nation’s first dedicated legal teams focused on conducting racial equity and other civil rights audits, helping companies, boards and investment firms proactively mitigate potential legal, reputational and business risk.
Amid an environment of increased stakeholder expectations, scrutiny and accountability around corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) commitments, Paul, Weiss’s Civil Rights and Racial Equity Audit Practice group offers an independent examination of racial and gender equity within an organization, and a concrete plan of action to address potential gaps in a thoughtful, timely and transparent manner aligned with each organization’s unique business interests and priorities. Paul, Weiss’s team of former senior government lawyers, experienced litigators and environmental, social and governance (ESG) experts approach these audits with the same rigor and thoroughness of any type of internal investigation.
“We are living in an era of increased stakeholder scrutiny and accountability, with companies assessing their programs and policies to identify gaps and disparate impacts,” said Paul, Weiss Chairman Brad S. Karp. “With the launch of this practice, we are bringing our deep expertise in internal investigations – as well as our storied history litigating civil rights cases – to help companies address potential deficiencies and ensure continued support from their key stakeholders.”
Paul, Weiss’s Civil Rights and Racial Equity Audit Practice group, comprised of some of the firm’s most experienced, sought-after counsel, has successfully managed numerous sensitive and expedited civil rights audits and internal investigations, including DE&I-focused and human rights audits, helping boards and management be informed, act effectively and respond appropriately to internal stakeholders and the public. Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch is leading the efforts of the firm’s Racial Equity Audits practice along with a core team that consists of former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson; firm Chairman Brad S. Karp; Karen L. Dunn, a nationally recognized crisis management adviser; former federal prosecutor Jeannie S. Rhee; and litigation partners Elizabeth M. Sacksteder and Liza M. Velazquez. The team also includes Sustainability & ESG Advisory Practice co-chair David Curran, a nationally recognized leader in helping complex organizations build resilience.
“Companies and investment firms are increasingly under pressure from shareholders, employees and customers to certify that public commitments to DE&I are being fulfilled,” said Loretta E. Lynch, former U.S. Attorney General and Litigation partner at Paul, Weiss. “A racial equity or civil rights audit is a powerful tool that companies can deploy to actively address potential gaps, get ahead of any risks and ensure that their actions are aligned with their values. No firm has more experience in these matters than Paul, Weiss.”
The team’s experience is unparalleled, and has included audits for a multinational technology conglomerate in its response to a recent shareholder proposal, including an independent racial equity audit to address race-related issues; the New York State Court System in an assessment of equal justice in the state court system; a leading cryptocurrency platform in advice involving its ESG program, policies and initiatives; and a multinational investment bank in a comprehensive assessment of current ESG programs, policies, committees and initiatives, among other matters.