As we recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I recently sat down with our friend Wayne Ho, CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council (“CPC”), to learn more about the community issues the nation’s largest Asian American social service organization is working to address. Since 2021, Proskauer has partnered with the CPC to host several educational workshop series with CPC teens, centering on social justice and academic enrichment. Proskauer employees volunteer as mentors on a regular basis, through programs like those sponsored by the CPC, imparting their expertise beyond the law to inform and inspire students to succeed in college, their careers and other aspects of their lives.
Proskauer performs pro bono work for a number of innovative and impactful nonprofit organizations, including Beyond Kids Reading (BKR). This week we had the privilege of speaking with BKR’s founder Dr. Craig N. Horning.
Our story begins in or about 1875 when both Proskauer and Stillman College were founded. Fast forward almost 150 years when, this past summer, Stillman Professor Gordon Govens reached out to Proskauer. There have been graduates of Stillman, a small historically black college in Alabama, who have gone on to become lawyers but not until now had the school developed a formal prelaw program. Dr. Govens was formerly a practicing lawyer before his academic career and indeed, was an associate at Proskauer in the early 1990s. He thought that there might be a way for the two institutions to work together, and he was right.
On October 20th, we were so pleased to welcome Match Charter Public High School back to our offices for the first time since the pandemic began, when we met with the 2022-23 class of juniors. Since 2016, our Boston office has partnered with Match Charter Public High School through our Adopt-a-School program, which is the Firm’s signature education initiative, connecting students from public and charter high schools throughout the country to meaningful workshops, discussions and panels designed to increase their college and career readiness. Activities leverage the expertise of our lawyers and business professionals and successfully help students develop new skills, build relationships, and identify new career paths and passions – inspiring our future leaders to realize their full potential. Since launching our Boston program, we have engaged 275 Proskauer volunteers who worked with 125 students across 51 workshops.
Earlier this month, Proskauer submitted an amicus curiae brief on behalf of a group of 33 elite liberal arts college and universities in two cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning the constitutionality of affirmative action in college admissions. The petitioners in each case (one challenging Harvard’s admissions process, the other the University of North Carolina’s) contend that consideration of race in admissions violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, respectively. They ask the Court to invalidate those policies and overrule a long line of Supreme Court precedent, starting with Regents of University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978), and reaffirmed in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), and Fisher v. University of Texas, 579 U.S. 365 (2016).
Lawyers from Proskauer’s Boston office recently met with a group of students from Bottom Line, an organization that helps first-generation-to-college students from low-income backgrounds get to and through college. Bottom Line works with students from their senior year in high school through college to advise and ensure the students are set up to succeed in college and life.
Through the Firm’s CSR education initiatives, we strive to harness the talents and expertise of our employees to create lasting impact with the students we serve. In addition to Bottom Line, we work with a number of different schools through our Adopt-a-School program, where we help high school students explore and better understand college, career opportunities and the soft skills to achieve success in the workplace. For many of our school and non-profit partners, we also offer a wide range of social justice workshops, which help create a connection between careers in law and social justice.
Proskauer recently reached a landmark agreement with the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) and Department of Education (NJDOE) to ensure that students entitled to special education services in NJDOC custody will receive those services to which they are legally entitled under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This settlement is consistent with Proskauer’s long-standing commitment to provide legal services to some of the country’s most vulnerable communities.
Last spring, Proskauer launched a partnership with the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) – an organization focused on empowering Asian American, immigrant, and low-income communities in New York City. Continuing our partnership, we launched an “Advancing Social Justice Summer Teen Series,” where a select group of students took part in a six-week series where conversations addressed paths to law school and social justice issues.