Our Fight for Racial Justice

We recognize that we all share a responsibility to effect change in our fight for racial justice. We commit to publicly sharing and maintaining accountability for Cooley’s progress and to work toward systemic change within the firm, the broader industry and our communities.

It is time to seek out education; learn about ourselves and each other; converse and collaborate; and stand together as one, united against the racism, bias and hatred that seek to divide us – it is time for action.
 
—  Joe Conroy, Cooley's chairman and chief executive officer

Commitment

Cooley is committed to taking a comprehensive approach in working toward building a firm and workplace that reflects equality for all. From professional development to external partnerships, accountability for progress has been integrated into every step of our employee and client experience, and we commit to working across the firm to build strategies that move us forward on this journey. Our actions have accelerated in recent months led by our CEO and chairman, Joe Conroy. Our current efforts include:

  • Analyzing pay equity and promotion trends
  • Enhancing our pipeline development and recruiting efforts
  • Investing in mentorship and development
  • Tracking diverse representation in pitches and client teams
  • De-biasing existing firm processes, including annual reviews and work allocation systems
  • Rolling out firmwide upward reviews for all 
  • Tying commitment to firm culture and DEI to partner compensation and promotion decisions
  • Growing firm affinity groups and resources 
  • Training and educating on topics including antiracism, micro-inequities and allyship
  • Expanding pro bono partnerships with civil rights and civil liberties organizations and collaborating on new antiracism work
  • Instituting a billable hours credit program for time spent leading on DEI efforts, where up to 50 hours of approved activities will be treated as billable time for productivity and bonus eligibility for lawyers
  • Expanding one-day paid volunteerism policy to include work for social and racial justice activist organizations and protesting
  • Becoming the first Am Law 100 firm to hire a manager to focus exclusively on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for professional staff

Education and engagement

Asian Pacific Islander Attorney Affinity Group API Allyship + Antiracism Resource Kit
Cooley’s Asian Pacific Islander Attorney Affinity Group compiled an API Allyship + Antiracism Resource Kit, which is full of resources – ranging from advice to articles, books, documentaries, TV shows and podcasts – all focused on ways allies can better understand and support the API community. With ongoing violence, harassment and hate crimes toward the Asian and Pacific Islander community, we stand with our API colleagues and commit to using Cooley's platform to raise awareness, educate and amplify API history, voices and stories.

Black Attorney Affinity Group Allyship + Antiracism Resource Kit
To encourage education, engagement and action, Cooley’s Black Attorney Affinity Group has compiled a resource kit to deepen and expand understanding of antiracism and allyship. We pledge to update this kit with new resources to promote and contribute to ongoing learning and education as we continue to normalize conversations around race and racism.

We are at a critical moment in history. For those asking, ‘How can I help?’ and ‘What can I do?’ – the answer is that you can help by becoming an ally and an agent of change. You can help by making the difference in our lives as your Black colleagues and in the lives of the Black community. Let us dare to be ambitious – we invite each of you to step up and effect such change through education, engagement and action.
 
— Tanisha James, partner and chair of Cooley’s Black Attorney Affinity Group

Action

Federal Judge Upholds Equitable Admissions Policy for Boston Exam Schools
A Massachusetts federal judge upheld the Boston school system’s new admission policy for exam schools, a victory that will enhance racial, socioeconomic and geographical diversity in the city’s most prestigious public high schools. The ruling sided with an amicus brief on which a Cooley team represented the Anti-Defamation League alongside leading nonprofits, business organizations and sports teams the Boston Celtics and the Boston Red Sox.

Cooley Joins The Alliance for Asian American Justice
Cooley joined The Alliance for Asian American Justice, a national pro bono initiative committed to providing legal support and advocacy to victims of anti-Asian hate crimes and harassment. The alliance, which is composed of more than 45 law firms and a group of Fortune 1000 general counsel, will coordinate and drive law firm pro bono resources on behalf of victims to assist and support them in obtaining legal remedies.

Cooley Helps Secure Win That Paves Way for New Hillel Center at UCSD
Cooley helped Hillel of San Diego secure a ruling by the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District allowing construction of the Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center, adjacent to the University of California, San Diego.

Cooley Speaks Out Against Obstacles to Voting
Alongside other Am Law 100 firms, Cooley signed a statement denouncing efforts to restrict the constitutional right of every eligible American to vote – and in particular, US election laws that impose unnecessary obstacles and barriers on the right to vote and that disenfranchise underrepresented groups.

Cooley Stands With Asian Pacific Islander Community
Cooley has signed on as an ally to the Stand With Asian Americans pledge launched by Asian American business leaders across the US to fight violence against the Asian Pacific Islander community amid an increase in hate crimes. Additionally, Cooley has signed on to Stand Against Hate, an initiative launched by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and six other national bar associations denouncing the surge in anti-Asian hate, violence and racism related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Court Denies Defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment, to Exclude Expert Testimony in Landmark Charlottesville Lawsuit
Cooley is working with a coalition of counsel on behalf of the plaintiffs in Sines v. Kessler – the landmark federal lawsuit backed by nonpartisan civil rights nonprofit Integrity First for America against the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and hate groups responsible for the 2017 violence in Charlottesville. As the case heads to trial, a federal judge denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment and motion to exclude expert testimony.

Impact America Fund Raises $55 Million to Invest in Startups Focused on Overlooked Communities
Cooley advised Impact America Fund, which makes early-stage investments in tech-driven businesses that create new frameworks of ownership and opportunity within marginalized communities, on the closing of its second venture capital fund at $55 million.

Cooley Joins Effort to Honor Kings’ Legacy in Boston
Cooley committed $250,000 to King Boston, a privately funded initiative in Boston working to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King and to address economic and racial inequities in the city.

Cooley Partners With Election Protection to Support US Voter Rights
Cooley helped ensure all eligible US voters had an equal opportunity to vote on Election Day by again working with Election Protection, the nation's largest nonpartisan voter protection project, which is run by a coalition of organizations including the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. 

Cooley Joins ACLU Campaign + Antiracism Alliance to Combat Systemic Racism
As part of the firm’s commitment to be an active agent of change, Cooley has joined two coalitions dedicated to dismantling systemic racism. The first, aligned with the ACLU of Louisiana, confronts racially discriminatory policing practices in the US; the second, the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, challenges racism in the law and government institutions.

US Supreme Court Blocks Rescission of DACA, Tracking Arguments Cooley Advanced for Legal Services Clients
The US Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration from rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, siding with arguments Cooley made in an amicus brief on behalf of dozens of legal services organizations, urging the justices to uphold protections for young immigrants.

Cooley Donates $750,000 to Equal Justice Initiative
Aligning with the firm’s commitment to be an active agent of change, Cooley donated nearly $750,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative, which works to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment, to challenge racial and economic injustice and to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in America.  

Pro Bono Triumph Against Racial Discrimination in Fair Housing Lawsuit
Cooley partnered with The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and others to achieve a successful settlement for victims in Mastic Beach, New York, who had alleged discrimination in housing and constitutional violations based on race and ethnic background. 

Ongoing pro bono efforts
Cooley’s commitment to pro bono work directed at expanding access to justice runs deep and strong. Our litigation docket includes cases challenging police misconduct and protecting voting rights, as well as a case headed to trial against the organizers of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

In the wake of the increased focus and discourse on racial justice in 2020, we expanded our commitment to defending civil rights and addressing systemic injustices and began new partnerships to counter police misconduct and excessive force. Civil rights and racial justice work jumped up to become our largest area of pro bono practice that year.

Related efforts include:

  • Representing NAACP of Missouri and the League of Women Voters on a COVID-19 voting rights case
  • Partnering with the ACLU of Louisiana’s Justice Lab project to challenge discriminatory policing and establish a blueprint for fighting similar abuses
  • Working with the Northern California Innocence Project on implementation of California’s new Racial Justice Act, which addresses issues of racism in sentencing
  • Representing organizations fighting for racial justice in work that supports their mission and in organizational matters. Examples include Anti-Defamation League, Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (AP3CON), King Boston, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Strategies for Youth and Stop AAPI Hate
  • Working with AP3CON to develop proposals to stem anti-API hate crimes and discrimination in public accommodations

Community and partnerships

Bringing leaders together
Cooley’s Black Executive Network and Latinx Executive Network programs together bring a forward-thinking community of CXOs, investors, innovators and prominent influencers across a wide range of industries, companies and government. They are designed to build a sense of community and harness the power of diversity to yield high-impact relationships, collaboration and knowledge-sharing. We are proud to work alongside and represent these outstanding leaders and are actively seeking to expand opportunities with other underrepresented groups as part of our effort to build a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem.

Supporting industry initiatives
When we partner with organizations driving impactful change, we want our commitment to be deeper than a financial one. We work alongside these groups to design programs, define success and recruit allies from across our networks. The following are just a few of the groups with which we’re working:

  • BLCK VC is an organization formed to connect, engage and empower Black venture capitalists. Cooley is a national partner and sponsor, collaborating on local and national events and programs and content aimed at supporting the advancement of Black investors.
  • Diversity VC is a nonprofit partnership promoting diversity in venture capital. Cooley is a sponsor and supports the organization’s four key initiatives: building a diverse network of venture capital professionals, helping venture capital firms hire from diverse backgrounds, connecting the venture capital community to a broader network and analyzing data on diversity in the venture capital industry.
  • Launch with GS is Goldman Sachs’ $500 million investment strategy grounded in its belief that diverse teams drive strong returns. Cooley partnered with the Launch With GS Entrepreneur Cohort, an eight-week program for Black and Latinx founders designed to accelerate growth through educational workshops, one-on-one coaching and access to the venture capital ecosystem.
  • Pledge LA is a collective of LA-based tech companies and venture capital firms working to create measurable change. Cooley is a sponsor of the Pledge LA Summer Lab Fund, which helps allocate $5,000 equity-free grants to startups founded by students and alumni of historically Black colleges and universities.

Mentoring the next generation of lawyers
We have signed on to a three-year partnership with Legal Education Access Pipeline, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit initiative with a mission to diversify the legal profession by preparing underrepresented students to become successful law school applicants, lawyers and social change agents. Eighteen Cooley lawyers from five offices have committed to serving as lawyer mentors to LEAP scholars during a nine-month fellowship program.

Partnering with clients
We are working with our clients – including global tech giants – to increase opportunities for representation, networking, mentorship and education within our organization and theirs. Taking a personalized approach for each client, we have developed mentoring programs that pair underrepresented junior lawyers with senior lawyers, launched a diverse entrepreneur accelerator cohort, partnered on racial justice pro bono projects, co-hosted training sessions and sponsored several private speakers series. We are focused on transforming our shared learning into action.

Our journey

Mansfield Rule Certification
Cooley was one of the first firms to achieve Mansfield certification when we participated in the Mansfield Rule pilot in 2017, and we have continued to be certified each year since. The primary driver of certification is confirmation that at least 30% of those considered for all governance and leadership roles are underrepresented attorneys.

LCLD Pathfinders and Fellows Program
We are a member of the leadership council on legal diversity, an organization of more than 320 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners. Through our membership in the program, we nominate a diverse set of lawyers for leadership development programs each year. Cooley is recognized as a key law firm partner by LCLD.

Cooley Recognizes Juneteenth
The firm was closed on June 19 in observance of Juneteenth. Firm lawyers and professional staff were encouraged to use the time to reflect on, celebrate and honor Black history and culture, as well as to examine the role each of us has in standing up as antiracists and being allies in change. 

Cooley Honored at LCCR’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area honored Cooley with its James T. Caleshu Award for the firm’s representation of small business owners of color.

Related Contacts
Joe Conroy Chairman and CEO, New York
Reuben Chen Partner, Palo Alto
TJ Graham Partner, Palo Alto
Tanisha A. James Partner, New York
Amie Santos Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Washington, DC