Message from the Robins Kaplan Executive Board

June 19, 2020

Today the Robins Kaplan community is taking a breath to pause and reflect on the recent senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks (and countless others). These tragedies reveal, among other things, that as a society we have not fully understood our own history and progress in the context of racial equality and justice.  We continue to listen, learn, and reflect on how these events must change us as a country and as an organization.

Today, we recognize “Juneteenth,” which commemorates the day the last remaining enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas, received word of their freedom. In this historic moment of hope and progress, Frederick Douglass presciently warned, “verily, the work does not end with the abolition of slavery, but only begins.” At Robins Kaplan, we are observing Juneteenth as a firm holiday to recommit ourselves to the work Douglass understood that we must do to ensure complete racial justice and equality for Black Americans and to reimagine what freedom should mean for all Americans.

Here is how this work has already begun to change us at Robins Kaplan:

First, we are having the necessary and difficult internal conversations about how systemic racism has impacted Black communities and our firm.  We are facilitating these conversations in a variety of forums to amplify Black voices and the experiences of all people of color.  And we fully accept our responsibility to not just listen, but to take the necessary action to end the vicious cycle of racial injustice in our society.

This work deeply resonates with the foundational principles of Robins Kaplan.  Our firm was established over 80 years ago, and is rooted in a mission to provide equal access to justice regardless of race, religious beliefs, nationality, or economic status. But for our clients, our communities, and ourselves, we know we must do more.

Second, the firm and our firm members together are giving over $100,000 to organizations dedicated to racial justice, legal services to underserved communities, and nonprofits serving our local communities of color. These organizations include the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Equal Justice Initiative, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, and the Lake Street Council.

Third, as a law firm, we know we have a unique ability to challenge the structure and institutions that have perpetuated racial inequality for Black Americans. We are committed to engaging in pro bono and volunteer work in partnership with legal services and advocacy institutions to ensure all of us have equal access to justice.

These are just the first steps. We will continue to listen, learn, and work to ensure that our organization more fully reflects our values. We take our responsibility seriously to turn this moment into a movement so that every member of society can breathe in the great promises of our nation. 

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