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.
Proskauer’s longstanding Board Service Initiative places our partners on non-profit boards where they serve organizations in the communities where we live and work, offering guidance and counsel and using their talents and expertise to impact lasting change. Our partners dedicate their services to a wide range of non-profit boards in…
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.
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.
For over 30 years, Proskauer lawyers have worked with students from Francis Lewis High School in Queens to help prepare them for moot court competitions. This year’s program was unlike any other with practices held over Zoom from living rooms and bedrooms across the City; and, instead of walking up to the lectern at the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse, a grand classical revival landmark in lower Manhattan, each student argued at home in front of a laptop. Despite the challenging situation, the competitors made it to the semi-finals of this year’s Metropolitan Mentor Moot Court competition for the first time in ten years.
Last month, we concluded the sixth year of our Adopt-a-School program, Proskauer’s signature education initiative that provides career and college readiness to high-achieving, low-income high school students across the country, with a panel discussion focusing on diversity and inclusion in college and the workplace. We planned carefully to facilitate a remote session with the same level of educational, interactive conversation that drives our in-person monthly workshops. We gathered around our computers at home for our first-ever virtual meeting with the students who were finishing up their junior year at our five partner high schools. Even with the challenge of connecting remotely, our final session brought us together beyond what we could imagine.
Our discussion featured panelists with various job roles across the Firm, all from diverse backgrounds: manager of client operations Gil Desroches, associate Winnie Ma, manager of diversity and inclusion Courtney Paul, associate Hena Vora and associate Bryant Wright, moderated by associate director of CSR Wendy Dessy. The panel discussion centered on the topic of diversity and inclusion at college and in the workplace, providing the students with a thought-provoking conversation at what seemed to be exactly the right time.