Los Angeles, January 28, 2021 – The Social Justice Legal Foundation (www.socialjusticelaw.org) launched today with a $10 million pledge of support from Hueston Hennigan LLP.
Its mission is to combine public interest issue expertise and elite academic resources with private sector experience in order to bring a fresh approach to curating and pursuing national trial work advancing social justice and equity. The Foundation brings together five of the leading U.S. law schools, leading trial lawyers from the private sector, and a lineup of star advisors including judges, leading activists and scholars to vet and pursue groundbreaking cases. The Foundation will also serve as an incubator for the next generation of leading trial lawyers in the public sector by sponsoring five promising law school graduates as Hueston Hennigan Fellows for two-year terms.
The Foundation – funded and created by the partners of Hueston Hennigan LLP – will collaborate with Columbia, Northwestern, Stanford, UCLA and Yale law schools to identify pressing legal issues and to mentor and develop a new generation of trial lawyers in the public sector. Representatives from the law schools will participate on the Board of Advisors and work with the Foundation to select an emerging leader from its graduates to serve a fully funded two-year fellowship with the Foundation. (See full list of Advisory Board Members below.)
Advisory Board Member Erica Smock, Dean for Social Justice Initiatives & Public Service Lawyering at Columbia Law School stated, “We are excited to collaborate on this first-in-the-nation initiative. We look forward to SJLF’s meaningful contributions to the broad network of public interest organizations who have been focused on the fight for social justice and equality.”
The Foundation will emphasize trial work and seek to collaborate with other social justice organizations and bar associations to take some of the most difficult and important cases to trial. The Foundation will begin with an executive director, two full-time staff attorneys, five Hueston Hennigan fellows, and substantial pro bono attorney support from trial lawyers at Hueston Hennigan.
“I look forward to working with our advisors, fellows, staff and pro bono attorneys to take to trial some of the most important cases affecting social justice,” said John Hueston, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board.
Crystal Crawford, Executive Director of the Western Center on Law & Poverty, stated, “We look forward to partnering with the Foundation on impactful work to advance economic dignity, housing, health, and basic needs for low-income Californians.”
To address evolving societal crises, the Foundation will rotate its primary areas of attention every two years from among the following initial areas: economic justice, housing/homeless discrimination, LGBTQ+ rights, immigrant justice, Native American discrimination, voting rights and criminal justice reform. The Foundation’s cases and focus areas will be informed by its executive leadership, academic partners, other social justice organizations and fellows.
The Foundation was born of an idea to form a collaboration between an elite private sector trial firm and leading law schools in order to leverage a unique blend of courtroom talent and academic thought leaders. As Hueston Hennigan attorneys reflected on the challenges that have faced the country in the recent past, the firm decided now was the time to launch this effort to achieve equity and equality. To fulfill that vision and to provide substantial mentorship opportunities to emerging social justice leaders in the law, Hueston Hennigan has made an initial pledge of $10 million to fully support the Foundation and to sponsor five Hueston Hennigan Fellows.
Board of Advisors
Hon. David O. Carter
United States District Court, Central District of California
Diane T. Chin
Associate Dean for Public Service and Public Interest Law
Stanford Law School
Crystal D. Crawford
Western Center on Law & Poverty
Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies
Hon. Alexander C. D. Giza
Los Angeles Superior Court
Laurie L. Levenson
Founding Faculty Director, Project for the Innocent
Professor of Law, David W. Burcham Chair in Ethical Advocacy
Loyola Law School
Doreen Nanibaa McPaul
Navajo Nation Department of Justice
Hon. Carlos Moreno (ret.)
Retired Justice of Supreme Court of California
Former United States Ambassador to Belize
Former Judge of United States District Court, Central District of California
Alan B. Morrison
Co-founder, Public Citizen Litigation Group
Lerner Family Associate
Dean for Public Interest and Public Service
George Washington University Law School
Song Richardson, J.D.
Dean and Chancellor’s Professor of Law
University of California, Irvine School of Law
President-Designate of Colorado College
Associate Dean of Public Interest Programs
Interim Executive Director, The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Policy
UCLA School of Law
Dean for Social Justice Initiatives & Public Service Lawyering
Columbia Law School
Cynthia A. Wilson
Clinical Professor of Law
Director, Center for Externships
Director, Public Interest Center
Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
The Zeughauser Group