Davis Polk and our Pro Bono practice are committed to helping effect systemic change in the realm of racial and social injustice and inequality.

Litigating issues that implicate systemic racism is a key part of Davis Polk’s deep commitment to advancing racial justice, as is representing small businesses and nonprofits that serve diverse communities and creating frameworks through which others can advocate for justice locally.

Protecting the right to record police interactions

Davis Polk and Legal Aid are co-counseling a litigation to vindicate our client’s First Amendment right to record interactions with the police. Specifically, our client recorded the arrest of her former partner on her iPhone. Several days later, the police retaliated by arresting our client, claiming she had interfered in her former partner’s arrest. While all charges were later dropped, our client suffered significant harm due to the false arrest, including both compensatory and non-compensatory damages.

Matthew Stratis Vasilakos, an associate in our White Collar Defense & Investigations practice involved in this matter said: “Building this case from the ground up with a supportive and dedicated team has been a true pleasure. I’ve had the opportunity to fight for our client’s First Amendment rights while learning the nuances of complaint drafting and offensive discovery.”

Creating tools to help communities across the country stop AAPI hate

To target the broader issue of racism against AAPI individuals in the United States, we partnered with the not-for-profit anti-racism organization Stop AAPI Hate to create a tool kit of resources for use by government leadership and school districts across the country. These materials included a template “Resolution Condemning All Hate Against AAPI Individuals and Communities” to aid in a coordinated effort to have state, county and municipal governments speak out in support of their AAPI community members. School districts wishing to implement Asian-American Studies and Ethnic Studies programs will also utilize the resources we contributed.

Jennifer Kim, an associate in our Litigation practice involved in this matter said: “My legal career began at the height of the COVID pandemic when instances of violence and discrimination against the AAPI community were on the rise. This crisis sparked my strong desire to help AAPI clients. Through Davis Polk’s partnership with Stop AAPI Hate, I have worked on two projects so far—one focused directly on addressing anti-AAPI hate and the other centered on promoting ethnic studies. As an AAPI lawyer, the opportunity to do pro bono work for an organization that advances equity and justice by dismantling systemic racism has been such a meaningful and empowering experience.”