Baker Donelson has designated Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, as a permanent firm holiday.
Baker Donelson initially designated Juneteenth as a holiday in 2020 as part of its Solidarity Action Plan, which it developed in the wake of last year’s nationwide racial reckoning.
The firm closed all its offices June 19, 2020, and encouraged lawyers, professionals and staff to spend the day engaging in support and action to protect Black lives against systemic racism.
Members of the Baker Donelson family participated in a range of ways, including reading books such as “White Fragility” and “Just Mercy,” participating in local Black Lives Matter protests, having conversations with their children about racism and volunteering with local organizations serving historically underserved and predominantly African American communities.
One of the firm’s Knoxville attorneys researched his state’s voting rights laws. As a result, he has since expanded his practice to advise individuals convicted of a felony crime to restore their voting rights. He has handled about a dozen cases since last summer, with many of them resulting in successful restoration of voting rights for his clients.
In Chattanooga, several of the firm’s attorneys participated in an online diversity summit the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce conducted.
This year, all Baker Donelson offices will be closed Friday, June 18, and employees will once again be encouraged to spend the day as a time of service, education and engagement. To help employees identify opportunities for engagement, the firm developed a list of resources.
Baker Donelson’s chief diversity and inclusion officer Mark Baugh says, “Our hope is that this annual Juneteenth commemoration will not be just another day off, but rather an opportunity for each of our lawyers, professionals and staff to develop their own personal plan to take concrete actions to help be a voice of love, support and justice.”
Timothy Lupinacci, Baker Donelson’s chair and CEO, adds, “By commemorating Juneteenth each year, our goal is to show solidarity with our Black colleagues, clients and communities, as well as our continued commitment to effect change in our world.
“Baker Donelson is proud to take this step in our ongoing role not only as allies but advocates and our obligation to protect and expand human rights and advance social justice for all.”
Source: Baker Donelson