On the eve of Thanksgiving, APBCo has 10 years of growth and accomplishment to look back on and be thankful for, including the opportunity to learn from each other as a community. At the same time, in the two weeks since the election, APBCo members have received literally hundreds of inquiries from friends and colleagues. These inquiries invariably express two thoughts. One is deep concern that cherished civil rights and democratic principles may soon be under attack. The second concerns how best to protect hard-earned rights and vulnerable persons. As an organization dedicated to social justice, APBCo deplores violence and discrimination of any kind. We choose tolerance and inclusion based on the fair administration of the rule of law. APBCo members, over 180 of us at over 100 big law firms from coast to coast (and in England and Australia), woke up on November 9th understanding that our work had become more important overnight.
APBCo members are leaders within our firms, managing millions of hours of pro bono legal services every year. Within our firms and communities, we are strategizing about how to respond to forecasts for the new administration. From criminal justice to immigration, from protecting women’s rights to protecting our planet, now is the time to be both thoughtful and proactive. Our strength and finest moments as a nation stem from our diversity and inclusiveness; conversely, the most regrettable events in our national history are so often tied to exclusion, persecution and fear-mongering. We hope that none of the latter come to pass. We also believe that social justice is just as important in the rural red counties as it is in the urban blue counties; that poverty punishes men, women and children without regard to politics or zip codes. Access to basic legal help should be equally available to all who need it, regardless of how they voted.
APBCo itself was founded on the belief that we achieve more for social justice when we work together. That principal may be tested now more than at any time in our 10-year history. We are confident that we are up to the challenge. Let’s not just protect our cherished freedoms and justice under the law, let’s advance the cause. As part of that, we understand that access to justice and fair representation of the poor is not a political calculus.
In the coming weeks, APBCo’s Board will continue to explore ways for us to be involved as an organization, as well as supporting individual and collaborative firm efforts, while also working closely with our legal services friends and allies. Chatter is a fast and efficient tool to share ideas, ask questions and promote successful initiatives. APBCo’s core strength has always been in members talking to one another, sharing knowledge and experience; as we look ahead, continued collaboration will be crucial. We encourage all members to use Chatter, to talk to each other and to reach out at any time to the Board with questions, concerns or proposals to advance social justice.
With gratitude for all you do, and optimism for all we have yet to do together, Happy Thanksgiving to all.