Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Racial Allies – public interest law sector in the United States

Adediran, Atinuke O., Racial Allies (December 24, 2020). Available at SSRN:  – “Public interest law has played a critical role in American social and legal change both historically and in modern times. From abolitionist lawyers, to lawyers involved in civil rights and civil liberties, to lawyers challenging economic inequality, the eviction crisis and immigration, public interest law has been at the forefront of American democracy. However, there is often an assumption that public interest institutions and lawyers are anti-racist allies and are deeply concerned about racial justice. This assumption has led to scholarly and practitioner neglect of racial inequality in public interest law.  In this Article, I conduct the first systemic investigation of racial and ethnic diversity with possibly the largest dataset of racial demographic data of the public interest law sector in the United States. The novel dataset contains 550 public interest legal organizations (PILOs) with their 550 CEOs and over 9000 boards of directors, and 140 pro bono partners and counsels in law firms. I also interviewed a subset of 62 CEOs and board members in some of these PILOs. With these two types of data, this Article does three things. First, it shows the contemporary lack of racial and ethnic diversity among the CEOs of PILOs, PILO boards of directors, and pro bono partners and counsels who make decisions that impact a mostly racial and ethnic minority client base and impact communities of color. Second, although there may be other reasons for the problem, the article provides five distinct and possible explanations for the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the sector. Third, it suggests potential policy responses to each of the identified explanations.” [h/t Mary Whisner]

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.