Human Rights Campaign partners with legal firms on LGBTQ litigation
The LGBTQ rights group Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is partnering with several legal firms to form an LGBTQ litigation hub that would take on moves by the Trump administration to endanger LGBTQ equality.
HRC will be the de facto center of the litigation efforts for these firms, creating a multi-year stream of cases that build on each other.
HRC shoring up LGBTQ litigation muscle
Six of the prestigious law firms are local: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; BakerHostetler; Linklaters; Sidley Austin LLP; Steptoe & Johnson LLP; and Winston & Strawn.
The seventh law firm will take the lead on global legal efforts: Clifford Chance.
“How many lives can we potentially impact? If we do this work in the way we intend on doing this work, we could actually benefit millions of people,” Human Rights Campaign chief Alphonso David told TIME.
Sarah Warbelow, HRC legal director at the Human Rights Campaign, said they will work with “top-tier law firms to introduce impact litigation that will make demonstrative differences in the lives of LGBTQ people, worldwide.”
HRC set to bring matters to court
David has said he plans to spend more time in courtrooms as compared to his predecessor, Chad Griffin, at the HRC.
However, he added that this doesn’t mean HRC would elbow out other activists fighting in courts or turn itself into a legal clinic.
“I plan on collaborating with all our movement partners that do litigation– the ACLU, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights– because I think there is value in making sure we have their input and guidance,” he said.
For almost four decades, HRC has been loggin comments against policies, lobbied against discriminatory legislation, and pushed for supportive bills. Its legal department has also been filing briefs with courts.
“I have to believe in our Constitution and I have to believe that when judges take an oath of office that they’re going to uphold the law,” David said.
Law firms to support LGBTQ litigation
Litigators from these partner law firms will help to pursue strategic cases that will shape state and federal law, while also expanding the application of constitutional principles.
“We are honored to join with HRC and be among those who will engage in strategic litigation to take on discrimination targeting LGBTQ people wherever it may occur,” said Abbe Lowell, a partner at Winston & Strawn.
Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin said: “HRC is a long-standing pro bono client and this next stage of collaboration reinforces Sidley’s deep commitment to advocating for diversity and equality.”
“Akin Gump has been proud to count HRC among our most valued clients for many years, and looks forward to pursuing litigation to affirm that LGBTQ rights are human rights,” said Steven Schulman, Pro Bono Partner at Akin Gump.
“We look forward to helping the Human Rights Campaign further initiatives that will secure full equality under the law for all LGBTQ people,” said Edward J. Jacobs, Partner and New York Pro Bono Coordinator at BakerHostetler.