Award Recognizes Pro Bono Work Addressing Systemic Racial Disparities in 2020 

Global law firm Baker McKenzie announced today that the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) has awarded the Firm the 2021 Beacon of Justice Award. The award recognizes “a strong commitment to intentionally and positively promoting racial equity.”

Led by Angela Vigil, Pro Bono Partner and Executive Director of Pro Bono at Baker McKenzie, and Jaclyn Pampel, Pro Bono Partner, the Firm's pro bono practice has launched and participated in a number of initiatives aimed at addressing racial disparities through the protection of children's rights and combating racism. Baker McKenzie leverages an extensive network of public interest partners, legal aid groups, children's rights organizations, companies, clients, friends, and non-profits. In 2020, despite challenges brought on by the pandemic, our pro bono practice had an increase in participation across a number of initiatives and projects.

"We approach our anti-racism work as essential to our Firm,” said Angela about the award. “Being recognized for this work is gratifying, and it will inspire us to do more in our Firm, with our public interest and private bar partners, and with our in-house legal colleagues. We are all better when we work together to strive for more, fight for better, and settle for nothing short of equitable access to justice for all."

Colin Murray, North America Chief Executive Officer, said, “We have been laying the groundwork for anti-racism initiatives through our diversity and inclusion program and pro bono practice for years, but 2020 was an urgent call to action for our Firm and the legal community. We will not rest until we have achieved equality in our Firm and in our communities.”

With the global pandemic exacerbating inequities in our communities, our pro bono practice responded by launching and engaging in meaningful and innovative projects to address critical social justice and health challenges. These initiatives include:

  • Real Rights: A City-By-City Legal Guide Interacting with Police In A Time of Racial Injustice - Baker McKenzie volunteers are creating city-specific guides to help citizens who come in contact with law enforcement understand what the police can and cannot do according to the law. This project is focused on big cities where black and brown children, youth and adults engage with the police more often and with dangerous results.
  • Children's Right Summit -The highly informative and impactful program: “2020 Vision: Examining Child Rights through an Anti-Racism Lens,” focused on youth of color and explored the impacts of racism in our justice systems. During the virtual event, in-house counsel from leading companies, children's rights advocates, academics and experts, law firm lawyers and young people themselves engaged in candid discussions and interviews to examine critical questions related to how children can overcome legal challenges and overcome barriers to children's rights (i.e. access to housing, shelter, job security and criminal justice).
  • Law Firm Antiracism Alliance Initiative - Baker McKenzie became a member of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance Initiative in 2020, which involves nearly 300 law firms across the United States committed to using pro bono resources to address systemic racism in a long-term, high-impact and collaborative way.

As a 2021 Beacon of Justice awardee, Baker McKenzie will be honored at a virtual gala and show – Redefining Justice: Celebrating Tenacious Heroes on Wednesday, June 9. This annual celebration brings together leadership from the corporate, law firm, civil legal aid, and public defense communities to pay tribute to NLADA’s community of advocates, and to support NLADA’s national leadership uniting the civil, client, and defender communities in using creative solutions to scale access to justice to 100 percent.

About Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie helps clients overcome the challenges of competing in the global economy. We solve complex legal problems across borders and practice areas. Our unique culture, developed over 70 years, enables our 13,000 people to understand local markets and navigate multiple jurisdictions, working together as trusted colleagues and friends to instil confidence in our clients. (www.bakermckenzie.com)

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