(July 7, 2021, Washington, DC) — Steptoe is pleased to announce the establishment of the Steptoe Racial Justice Fund. The mission of the fund is to advance racial justice by providing financial support to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that empower and uplift communities of color within the United States. The Steptoe Racial Justice Fund was endowed by the firm at the end of 2020 and has already issued its first round of grants.
"This past year has been transformational for race relations and racial justice in America," said Phil West, Steptoe chair. "As a law firm that celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion, Steptoe is a place where colleagues help each other thrive, and a community that stands against hate. And to help address racial justice inequities that in a way that can be impactful, we are pleased to announce the launch of the Steptoe Racial Justice Fund. It is part of our overarching goal to back up our commitment with action."
The Steptoe Racial Justice Fund is designed to support groups and initiatives working toward racial equity in the following areas:
- Voter rights and civil rights;
- Criminal justice and policing reform;
- Access to healthcare and other health disparities;
- Housing access and economic stability of communities;
- Education and cultural preservation; and
- Minority-owned small businesses.
Ensuring civil liberties and civil rights are part of the fabric of the firm. This past presidential election, Steptoe lawyers contributed thousands of hours to the Election Protection initiative, hosting a call center, and helping hundreds of voters leading up to and on Election Day. In 2020, the firm filed a landmark lawsuit against the US Department of Health & Human Services over their efforts to gut anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ patients in healthcare. Steptoe also signed on as an inaugural board member of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, and launched projects scrutinizing incidents of police brutality in DC, Baltimore, and across the state of Louisiana.
For more than a decade, Steptoe has been a member and staunch supporter of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), an organization of more than 350 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners who are personally committed to creating a more diverse and inclusive legal profession. In 2019, the firm's Brussels office played a pioneering role in co-founding the Legal Diversity & Inclusion Alliance (LDIA), comprised of dozens of member firms committed to building a diverse and inclusive workplace.
For its commitment to diversity and public service, the firm has been recognized by a number of organizations. In 2019, Steptoe received the Washington Council of Lawyers' Law Firm Award for the firm's "deep-rooted and stronger-than-steel commitment to pro bono work." More recently, Steptoe received the 2020 and 2021 Beacon of Justice Award from the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, and was named a Pro Bono Partner of the Year by the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project for the firm’s work assisting immigration clients who are domestic violence survivors. Also this year, Steptoe joined DC Represents, a coalition led by the DC Access to Justice Commission's COVID-19 Task Force to call on the local legal community to expand its pro bono commitment to address COVID-19-related legal needs in the District of Columbia.
Steptoe strives to create an environment in which all of the firm's lawyers and professionals can actively participate in the development of a diverse, inclusive, and productive workplace community. The firm's Diversity & Inclusion Committee routinely host trainings to educate on diversity and social justice issues. In recent months, the firm has heard from LCLD founder Rick Palmore about the critical, continuing need for diversity in the legal profession; watched a compelling discussion on anti-AAPI hate and hate crimes moderated by New York partner Ryan Poscablo; and has learned best practices on building spaces of inclusion and equity in the workplace by renowned diversity expert Michelle Silverthorn.
In more than 100 years of practice, Steptoe has earned an international reputation for vigorous representation of clients before governmental agencies, successful advocacy in litigation and arbitration, and creative and practical advice in structuring business transactions. Steptoe has more than 500 lawyers and other professional staff across offices in Beijing, Brussels, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington. For more information, visit www.steptoe.com.