Attorneys’ fees awarded in one of Cravath’s hallmark pro bono matters donated to support five national and local Alabama institutions

NEW YORK, June 15, 2021 – Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP today announced that it will donate a total of $6 million to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Equal Justice Initiative (“EJI”), EJI’s Legacy Museum, Fisk University and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (“national Lawyers’ Committee”).  

The donation is funded from attorneys’ fees awarded to Cravath at the conclusion of one of the Firm’s hallmark pro bono matters, a nearly 40-year commitment to representing African American and female plaintiffs in employment discrimination litigation in Jefferson County, Alabama.  The case was brought by the NAACP in 1974 and, at the request of the national Lawyers’ Committee, Cravath took on the representation of the plaintiffs in 1983.    

“As we reflect on the culmination of four decades of effort to make real the promise of civil rights reforms in Jefferson County, Alabama, we feel privileged to carry forward that commitment by supporting the work of each of these remarkable organizations,” said Faiza J. Saeed, Cravath’s Presiding Partner. 

“EJI, the Legacy Museum, the national Lawyers’ Committee and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute are continuing the mission of the civil rights movement and the pursuit of justice, both in Alabama and nationally.  Fisk University, one of the country’s premier historically Black colleges and universities, is educating the leaders of the future,” she said.

Generations at Cravath contributed more than 100,000 hours on the case in pursuit of a better future for the people of Jefferson County.  “I was honored to lead this work as a Cravath partner for 25 years before joining the bench, and it remains among the most meaningful cases I worked on as a practicing lawyer.  To see it conclude with a measure of justice achieved in Jefferson County is tremendously gratifying, and a testament to the longstanding commitment from the Firm to pro bono work and the difference it can make in progress and reform,” said Rowan D. Wilson, Associate Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals.

In supporting Fisk University, Cravath is strengthening a relationship that has endured for more than a century.  In 2019, Cravath and Fisk launched the Cravath Scholars program in support of high-achieving students studying across a range of disciplines at the University.  Scholars are supported with tuition assistance and a summer internship in Cravath’s New York office, which includes training and mentorship opportunities.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP was founded in 1819 and is widely recognized as one of the world’s premier law firms. The Firm has 476 lawyers in New York City and London. 

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Founded in 1992, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is a cultural and educational research center that promotes understanding of the significance of civil rights developments in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Equal Justice Initiative and the Legacy Museum

The Equal Justice Initiative, founded in 1989, works to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment, challenge racial and economic injustice, and protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in our society.  In 2018, EJI opened the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration in its base of Montgomery, Alabama, to both address the legacy of slavery and serve as an engine for education about racial inequality.

Fisk University

Founded shortly after the end of the Civil War, Fisk University is one of the nation’s historically Black colleges and the oldest institution of higher learning in Nashville.  Committed to the success of scholars and leaders from diverse backgrounds, Fisk produces graduates with the integrity and intellect required for substantive contributions to society.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar’s leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law focuses on securing equal justice for all through the rule of law.