Paul, Weiss is committed to providing impactful pro bono legal assistance to individuals and organizations in need. Our program is all-encompassing, spanning the core issues facing our society.
Paul, Weiss’ longstanding commitment to racial equity and to combating racism in all of its forms is a cornerstone of our pro bono practice.
For decades, Paul, Weiss has been at the forefront of legal efforts to promote racial justice. Assisting Thurgood Marshall in the seminal U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, the firm’s lawyers were instrumental in effort to end racial segregation. Today, we continue to be a leader in nationwide efforts to use the law and advocacy to confront systemic racism. Highlights of our recent racial justice work include:
Confronting the White Nationalist Movement
Paul, Weiss is at the forefront nationally of using novel legal strategies to hold white supremacists and far-right hate groups civilly accountable for their racist, violent actions. In a blueprint for combating extremism, we are working to expose those committed to racist violence to significant liability.
- Sines v. Kessler: As co-lead trial counsel, Paul, Weiss won a major victory on behalf of nine pro bono clients who were injured in the violence during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. On November 23, 2021, an 11-member jury found each defendant liable for conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence under Virginia law, and awarded our clients over $25 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
- District of Columbia v. Proud Boys, Int’l: As reported in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, CBS News and other leading news media Paul, Weiss, alongside co-counsel the Anti-Defamation League, States United Democracy Center and Dechert LLP, is representing D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine in a federal lawsuit to hold the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers accountable for their role in planning and carrying out the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The civil lawsuit—the first by a government entity against the January 6 insurrectionists—seeks to recover damages for the substantial costs the District incurred as a result of the attack, particularly the physical and emotional injuries suffered by officers in the District’s Metropolitan Police Department.
- Metropolitan A.M.E. Church v. Proud Boys International LLC: On January 4, 2021, on behalf of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, Paul, Weiss and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit against the Proud Boys International, its leader Enrique Tarrio, and certain Proud Boys members. The suit stemmed from defendants’ terrorizing actions during a rampage in the District of Columbia on December 12, 2020, targeting supporters of the Black Lives Matters movement, including historic Black churches. In April 2021, we won a judgment against the organization, strengthening our hand in seeking information about the group and its funding sources.
Confronting Anti-Asian Bias
- A Paul, Weiss team researched and wrote a report with the Asian American Bar Association of New York documenting the horrific rise in violence against Asian-Americans. The headline-making report was released on February 10, 2021. A follow up report is forthcoming.
- Paul, Weiss has represented numerous individual victims of anti-Asian hate and their families, advising them in connection with estate and financial planning, criminal proceedings, and immigration.
Defending the Right to Vote
Our firm has been at the forefront of litigation challenges to state legislation that would suppress the vote, particularly among people of color. Among others:
- Holmes v. Moore: Paul, Weiss, alongside Southern Coalition for Social Justice, secured a landmark victory on September 16, 2021, after a three-week trial, when a three-judge panel of the Wake County Superior Court struck down North Carolina’s 2018 voter ID law, S.B. 824. The panel majority found the evidence at trial sufficient to show that the enactment of S.B. 824 was “motivated at least in part by an unconstitutional intent to target African American voters.”
- NAACP Louisiana State Conference v. Ardoin: Paul, Weiss, alongside the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the ACLU and the ACLU of Louisiana, is representing the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP, the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and several individual Louisiana voters in a state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the map of Louisiana’s congressional districts. Our lawsuit asks the court to block the current congressional district configuration and implement a new map that adheres to the constitutional requirement of one person, one vote and also ensures that the state contains two majority-Black districts in compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
- Ana Flores, et al. v. Town of Islip: We negotiated a favorable settlement in a federal voting rights lawsuit on behalf of Latinx residents of Islip, Long Island on the eve of trial in October 2020, ending a discriminatory, at-large voting system that denied Latinx residents representation.
Demanding Criminal Justice and Police Reform
- We represent James Broadnax, a Black man on death row in Texas. He was convicted in 2009, of participating in a double murder when he was 19 years old. He was tried before a jury from which the DA exercised peremptory strikes against every Black juror. Documents we obtained from the DA’s office demonstrate that the DA focused on the race of the jurors during jury selection.
- We partnered with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and The Legal Aid Society in a successful lawsuit against New York City and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). The suit, Davis, et al. v. City of New York, filed on behalf of more than 400,000 NYCHA residents and invited guests, challenged the New York City Police Department’s racially discriminatory policy and practice of routinely stopping and arresting NYCHA residents and guests without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Following two major rulings in our clients’ favor, we helped negotiate a settlement that significantly revises police practice and NYCHA house rules.
Facilitating Economic and Organizational Empowerment
Our transactional attorneys have focused on empowering local entrepreneurs and non-profits and have committed hundreds of hours to assist BIPOC-owned businesses and non-profits in the communities in which we operate.
- We partnered with Echoing Green, the leading incubator for social impact startups, to provide transactional legal consultations to its class of Racial Equity Philanthropic Fund fellows, founders of nonprofits or social enterprises focused on tackling racial equity issues.
- We assisted the Black Economic Alliance Foundation with creating a multimillion-dollar Entrepreneurs Fund that provides seed capital to businesses founded and led by Black entrepreneurs.
- We advise non-profits that focus on BIPOC-empowerment, including the National Fellowship for Black and Latino Male Educators and Black Connect, on a variety of corporate legal issues ranging from Board of Director trainings to real estate guidance.