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Norton Rose Fulbright announces 2021 Global Charitable Initiative

Norton Rose Fulbright’s 2021 Global Charitable Initiative (GCI) will focus on fighting systemic racism and championing social justice worldwide. This important and timely cause was selected by the firm’s newly appointed Global and US Chair Shauna Clark, the first woman of colour to be chair of an “Am Law 200” firm.

The aim of the initiative will be to raise awareness as to the importance of fighting racism and championing social justice in business, in local communities and as individuals through fundraising, pro bono and volunteering opportunities with charities focused on these causes. Where possible, the firm will join with like-minded clients in these activities to expand its reach.

“I would like 2021 to be remembered as a year of action by the whole firm, uniting to use our time and our talents and our passion to fight racism and champion social justice,” Shauna said. “Our aim is that this initiative will leave a lasting legacy, inspiring our people to support antiracism and social justice causes and to commit to antiracism and social justice volunteering, fundraising and pro bono activities in their local communities.”

In late 2021, lawyers and support personnel firm-wide will be invited to participate in a global activity day. Likewise, each region or jurisdiction will be encouraged to interpret the themes of fighting racism and championing social justice in a way that resonates with their local community and culture, identifying an organisation active in this cause with which to partner in 2021.

“As a global law firm, we can use our voices to stand up for those who don’t have a voice, who don’t have access, who don’t have opportunities,” Shauna said.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Charitable Initiatives are proposed and sponsored by a different region each year. Each region is asked to choose a cause which resonates with the firm globally, motivating lawyers and other personnel to participate and take action.

Past initiatives have included promoting the building of environmentally sustainable communities, fighting hunger and reducing food waste, supporting the Special Olympics and helping to build a facility for Menzi Children’s Home in South Africa.

Find out more about the firm’s commitment to corporate responsibility and diversity and inclusion.

DLA Piper advises National Urban League on development of framework

DLA Piper advised on a pro bono basis the National Urban League, a historic civil rights organisation dedicated to economic empowerment that elevates the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities, on its development of the framework of a comprehensive agenda aimed at leveraging the tools of the information economy to create a more equitable and inclusive society.

The Lewis Latimer Plan for Digital Equity and Inclusion includes steps such as deploying broadband networks everywhere in the country, connecting every household to broadband networks, utilising the networks to improve delivery of essential services and creating new opportunities for underserved communities to participate in the growth of the digital economy. The plan is named for Lewis Howard Latimer, a 19th-century draftsman, soldier, scientist and researcher whose parents were born into slavery and who worked with Alexander Graham Bell on the development of telephones and with Thomas Edison on electric lighting.

Under the Latimer Plan, the Federal Communications Commission would re-examine network performance standards, pinpoint areas without any broadband network, eliminate restrictions that disqualify providers who could deliver service quickly and efficiently, and allocate subsidies necessary to close the availability gap. The plan recommends the creation of a federal Office of Digital Equity to coordinate training, as well as a major restructuring of the FCC’s Lifeline Program, which subsidises communication services for low-income households.

“If adopted, the Latimer Plan would improve how our country delivers healthcare, education, job training and other government services in ways that will benefit all Americans, especially those in marginalised communities,” said Edward “Smitty” Smith, a partner in DLA Piper’s Telecom practice who advised the National Urban League.

The plan also would require companies that benefit from federal investment to improve access to economic opportunity, and it would direct the Department of Commerce and the FCC to collect information that allows the government and the public to understand and evaluate how the private sector is improving diversity, equity and inclusion.

Latham & Watkins: Serving Those Who Served

From risking their lives on the battlefield to providing urgent care to those in need around the globe, active members and veterans of the Armed Forces embody the meaning of service. We are proud to work on their behalf in a number of ways.

In conjunction with the National Veterans Legal Services Program’s (NVLSP) Lawyers Serving Warriors Program, more than 400 lawyers across 15 offices have taken on over 270 matters on behalf of veterans and active-duty service members in the last eight years, including more than 100 matters in 2020. This work often involves appealing military disability ratings, which determine the amount of military disability benefits disabled veterans receive for their conditions. Our clients through NVLSP include a decorated officer who sustained injuries in combat operations in Iraq. Representing him before the Physical Disability Board of Review, we secured a disability rating that results in full disability benefits and healthcare for him and his family. We also successfully brought a case against the government in the Court of Federal Claims to help a former Navy SEAL receive full retirement and medical benefits after the Navy found that his traumatic brain injury was not an “unfitting condition.”

This year, we also achieved an appellate victory establishing a precedent that could benefit hundreds of military officers. Under law, officers passed over twice for promotion must be discharged unless they are close to eligibility for retirement. But, in 2010, the US Air Force narrowed its exceptions to this policy — forcing out over 150 majors, including our client. In a reversal of the judgment of the Court of Federal Claims (CFC), the Federal Circuit found that he had been wrongfully discharged and that the Air Force had improperly rewritten the involuntary discharge protection for officers who are nearing retirement. Further, the Federal Circuit remanded in a rare precedential opinion with express instructions to convene a special board for reconsideration that effectively bypassed the CFC.

Our pro bono support for veterans extends to significant legal matters involving leading volunteer organisations. We recently secured an important federal court victory for Team Rubicon, Inc. (TRI), a non-profit group that deploys US veterans in response to large-scale disasters. TRI sought our representation in connection with a contentious trademark dispute with a former licensee. In response to the suit, a New York-Chicago-DC litigation team filed counterclaims and a motion for preliminary injunction on TRI’s behalf to protect the organisation’s trademarks and intellectual property, as well as to vindicate its charitable interests — with favourable results for our client. Not only was the motion granted, but TRI received all of the injunctive relief it had requested. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the preliminary injunction, with the plaintiff’s motion being denied in its entirety.

Serving means rising above self-interest to help others. Latham stands with active and retired service members.