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Overview and 2010 Programmatic Agenda of Legal Department at the Lawyers’ Committee Jon Greenbaum Legal Director February 22, 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Overview and 2010 Programmatic Agenda of Legal Department at the Lawyers’ Committee Jon Greenbaum Legal Director February 22, 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Overview and 2010 Programmatic Agenda of Legal Department at the Lawyers’ Committee Jon Greenbaum Legal Director February 22, 2010

2 Composition of the Legal Dept. 7 Project Areas: ◦Community Development ◦Educational Opportunities ◦Employment Discrimination ◦Environmental Justice ◦Fair Housing ◦Legal Mobilization and Public Policy ◦Voting Rights & Fair Elections 23 Employees + 1 Vacancy, including 17 lawyers 3 additional positions in 2010 budget that are dependent on projected but yet unrealized funding 9 Law Firm Fellows 2 Volunteer Attorneys & Numerous Interns

3 Elements for Programs Essential Has major impact on one or more civil rights issues concerning race Competency existing or readily developed at the LC The importance of the legal component is easily understood The need for a national legal group’s involvement is readily apparent Usual The field is not fully occupied Pro Bono support can play a substantial role Funding mechanisms can be identified Underlying question: Can we be a ”critical catalyst” here?

4 Litigation 1. Litigation is an essential component of our identity 2. Increased lawyer staffing within a project exponentially increases the amount of litigation and we would like to increase staffing for several programs 3. Large-scale programs usually enhance litigation instead of detract a)There are more project resources b)Litigation comes out of these programs 4. We need to be strategic about the litigation we bring a)Is it impact litigation? b)Do we need to be involved (would our non-involvement be conspicuous?)? c) Can it lead to bigger things or does it further existing programming? d)How substantial is the investment? e)What is the likelihood of fee recovery?

5 2009 Highlights Litigation Secured Supreme Court decision in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Mukasey which left intact the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act Obtained settlements in LWVO v. Brunner (Voting); ACORN v. Scott (Voting), Harkless v. Brunner (Voting), Vargas v. Town of Smithtown (Fair Housing); Title VII settlement (Employment); Steele v. Town of Smithtown (Fair Housing); Pitt County, NC desegregation case (education) Obtained partial reversal in 8 th Circuit that resulted in trial in Local 2 case on retaliation claim (employment) As amici in the United States Supreme Court, helped to secure victories or partial victories in Cuomo v. Clearing House and OCC (Housing); Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville (employment) Community Services Started the Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network which will operate in up to 20 states to identify and halt illegal and deceptive “loan modification” practices by fraudulent groups in minority communities. Conducted 2009 Election Protection Program which handled calls from voters in 27 states and administered field programs in 3 states Conducted Heirs Property/ Title Clearing Initiative—obtained over $1.8 million in grants to needy families and held workshop on Eastern Shore of Maryland for 55 families to assist with heirs’ property problems.

6 2009 Highlights continued Legislation and Advocacy Supported the successful Passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009; Supported the successful Passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; Presented testimony before the House and Senate on 2008 Elections and needed fair elections reforms ; Released 2008 Election Report “Election Protection 2008: Helping Voters Today, Modernizing the System for Tomorrow”; and Provided evidence to Department of Justice obtained in Morales v. Handel case which led to Department of Justice blocking Georgia voter citizenship verification program because it discriminated against minority voters. Convenings Sponsored May, 2009 National Summit of Environmental Justice Experts for 2 days which helped formulate a major report to be issued to the Obama Administration and Congress on federal environmental justice policy; Sponsored on December 3 rd, Race and Jobs Convening of Civil Rights Organizations; and Sponsored on December 4 th, an all day National Convening on “Barriers to Employment,” of government officials, attorneys, experts, and foundation officers.

7 Legal Infrastructure Developments in the Past Year 6 hires in new positions 7 internal promotions + 1 lateral Retention of Lindsay Fellows Legal assistant coverage in every subject matter project Creation of Legal Mobilization and Public Policy Project New litigation Development of new programming through intensive internal collaboration

8 2010 “Top Line” Program Priorities Community Development Primary goal: To provide legal transactional services that foster sustainable growth, opportunity, and livability in minority and low-income communities Lead 2010 Objectives: Continuing to expanding scope of heirs property work Creating and implementing pilot for regional planning initiative Maintaining and expanding work in Gulf Fair Housing & Fair Lending Primary goal: To litigate high-impact cases and develop associated programming that break down barriers that perpetuate segregation and restrict opportunity for members of minority and low-income communities Lead 2010 Objectives: Implementing Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network Successfully litigating existing cases and bringing new litigation (Westchester-type, municipal services) Maintaining and expanding work in Gulf

9 2010 “Top-Line” Priorities (Cont.) Education Primary goal: Striving to guarantee that all students receive equal educational opportunities in public schools and institutions of higher learning. Lead 2010 Objectives: Successfully litigating Maryland HBCU case and possibly other cases Creating and implementing pilot for Parental Readiness and Empowerment Program Employment Primary Goal: Eliminating racial and national origin discrimination in private and public workplaces Lead 2010 Objectives Developing and implementing Access Campaign Initiating Impact Litigation Continuing and Expanding Amicus Practice

10 2010 “Top Line” Priorities (Cont.) Environmental Justice Primary goal: Using legal remedies and advocacy to reduce the disproportionate impact of pollution borne by people of color and the poor Lead 2010 Objectives: Completing Environmental Justice report and advocating for its recommendations Developing Title VI complaint initiative Bring an impact case in 2010 Voting Rights and Fair Elections Primary goal: Mobilizing the private bar to achieve equality and protect advances in voting rights for racial and ethnic minorities and other traditionally disenfranchised groups Lead 2010 Objectives: Successfully litigating existing cases, bringing new matters (VRA and NVRA), defending VRA if it is challenged EP 2010 Developing and implementing redistricting initiative

11 2010 “Top Line” Priorities (Cont.) Public Policy Primary Goal: Raising the Lawyers’ Committee profile on the Hill and in the Administration and successfully advocating for legislation and administrative actions that advance civil rights Lead 2010 Objectives: Voter Registration Modernization, Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention, Inclusion of Integration of Diversity Requirements within the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Inclusion of Credit Check Limitations and minority protections in the Employment Application Process, Creation of Consumer Financial Protection Agency in order to further fair housing and community economic development and the Elimination of the racial disparate impact in the criminal justice process, Executive Appointments and Judicial Nominations

12 2010 “Top Line” Priorities (Cont.) Legal Mobilization and Pro Bono Primary goal: Providing the organizing and pro bono support to each component of the legal department Lead 2010 Objectives: Working with subject matter staff on successfully implementing existing Legal Mobilization Programs (Election Protection and Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network) Working with subject matter staff on developing contemplated and new Legal Mobilization Programs (Parental Readiness and Empowerment, Title VI Enforcement, Regional Planning)

13 Avenues for Board Involvement Co-Counseling on Litigation or Transactional Matters Individual/firm financial support Leading Legal Committees on LMPs Research and Report Drafting Board Support Committees Providing Programming Ideas or Shaping Programming Ideas Assistance in obtaining on-site, no-cost support Outreach to Partners/Allies/Potential Funders/Clients Advocacy/Lobbying Op-eds and meetings with editorial boards Researching Governmental Funding Mechanisms

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