In September, I had the privilege of speaking on a panel at The New York City Bar Association titled “Securing Democracy For Tomorrow.” Moderated by United States Magistrate Judge Katharine Parker, the event focused on the importance of civic education. To start things off, Dawn Smalls, a partner at Jenner & Block, introduced the keynote speaker, Schools Chancellor David Banks. David is a strong supporter of civic education and its capacity to empower students as change agents that have a genuine, lasting effect in their communities. He shared powerful firsthand examples from his career, in which he witnessed the impact of student activism as a positive force for social change in some of our most underserved neighborhoods.

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.

Last week, Proskauer was honored to host a summit in its New York office, led by United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, on efforts to ensure public safety and economic opportunities for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The event, moderated by Frank Wu, the president of Queens College, brought together over 50 business, academic and community leaders, including the presidents of the Ford Foundation, Fordham University, Teachers College (Columbia University), Baruch College and the Asian American Business Development Center. The discussion focused on ways to battle anti-Asian xenophobia and racism and offered ideas to build capacity and investment in AAPI communities through federal policies and action.

Last week, hundreds of lawyers and staff gathered across Proskauer for the 15th Annual Golden Gavel Awards ceremony to honor those who have made significant contributions to the Firm’s pro bono, corporate social responsibility and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts this past year.  The evening began with a special guest.  Preet Bharara, the former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, shared insights from his time in office, impressed the importance of public service, and addressed several issues he raised in his best-selling book Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and The Rule of Law.  Also of note were remarks from Labor & Employment associate Godfre Blackman who is currently serving as the Firm’s NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) Fellow. As part of the Firm’s Collaborate for Change initiative, Proskauer created this fellowship for one of our associates to work directly with the LDF on strategic matters focusing on eliminating disparities and achieving racial justice and equality.

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.