Kirkland & Ellis has celebrated a major pro bono win in a 15 year lawsuit against Maryland by donating $12.5 million to colleges and nonprofits from fees awarded to the law firm.
Michael D. Jones, (pictured) who leads the Kirkland & Ellis law firm, represented alumni and supporters of Maryland’s HBCUs in their challenge of systemic underfunding of the schools by the state government. After years of litigation, the case was settled this year when state lawmakers approved hundreds of millions of dollars in extra funding in future state budgets for HBCUs.
“So many of us became lawyers to fight injustice and give our clients a fair shake not only in the courtroom but also in society. This case has allowed me, and my colleagues, to do just that,” Jones said in a statement. “I’m gratified by this entire experience, including knowing that this donation will go directly to helping future lawyers gain valuable experience and to fight for justice for others.”
In a press statement, Kirkland & Ellis said their “deep commitment to using legal skills to help communities and advance civil rights is evident in its impactful pro bono work. Some pro bono matters become the case of a lifetime, like litigation partner Michael Jones’ work to secure equity in education in the state of Maryland. Over 12 years and more than 38,000 pro bono hours, Mike and the Kirkland team engaged in a multipronged strategy in the courts, the legislature and the media to get backing inside and outside the courtroom.”
The donations from the firm include:
●$5 million to the Dillard University’s Center for Racial Justice in New Orleans to create an endowment that will fund paid internships for students at civil rights and public interest organizations.
●$3 million to Morgan State University’s Robert M. Bell Center for Civil Rights in Education to fund the center’s racial justice initiatives and fellowships for students.
●$2 million for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law to establish a fellowship program for students including those studying law at HBCUs.
●$1 million to the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education for fellowships and internships, particularly on Capitol Hill.