At Pierce Atwood, we recognize that, as a law firm, we are uniquely positioned to answer the rising calls for structural change within our society. While our pro bono efforts have historically included many matters in pursuit of racial justice and equity, the global protests in response to the killing of George Floyd have served as an urgent call to concentrate our efforts and talents to do more. To this end, we have developed a three-pronged approach to promoting racial justice in our communities through targeted pro bono initiatives and transactional support.

  • Civil Rights Litigation: Pierce Atwood has a history of taking on civil rights cases under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for damages, declaratory, and injunctive relief for individuals who have suffered the deprivation of constitutional or federal statutory rights by virtue of the conduct of government officials. As part of our Racial Justice Initiative, we will amplify these efforts through partnerships with state ACLU chapters and various federal court systems in the jurisdiction where we practice.
  • Expungement/Record Sealing Clinics: Many non-violent state law arrests and convictions are eligible for expungement (also referred to as annulment) under certain circumstances. As part of our Racial Justice Initiative, through coordination and cooperation with legal service organizations in cities in which we practice, Pierce Atwood will work to alleviate the collateral consequences of criminal conviction and incarceration through expungement and sealing of criminal and juvenile records as applicable in each state. Having a criminal record can severely limit one’s access to employment, education, housing, civic engagement, and public assistance. The ABA’s Collateral Consequences of Conviction Project has identified more than 45,000 federal and state statutes and regulations that impose disqualifications or disadvantages on individuals convicted of a crime. Racially disparate enforcement of criminal laws means that these adverse collateral consequences disproportionately affect persons of color.
  • Transactional Initiative:  Entrepreneurs of color face a traditional lack of access to capital, along with other systemic barriers to success. Nonprofit organizations working to secure racial justice can benefit from transactional support in the areas of formation, real estate, employment, and more. Attorneys in Pierce Atwood’s transactional practices will develop a program to advise and support nonprofits, entrepreneurs, and businesses that are led by persons of color and/or seeking to secure racial justice and equity.

In recognition that the above efforts are part of a larger landscape of legal work, Pierce Atwood has proudly joined as a charter signatory to the new Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, already 200+ members strong. The LFAA’s purpose is “to leverage the resources of the private bar in partnership with legal services organizations to amplify the voices of communities and individuals oppressed by racism, to better use the law as a vehicle for change that benefits communities of color and to promote racial equity in the law.” The LFAA’s first action item is the collaborative development of a catalogue of laws, rules, policies and practices that result in negative outcomes for persons of color.

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