The FAIR Pledge: We Commit to Fighting Against Implicit Bias and Racial Inequality

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NLADA considers racial justice critical to our mission to advance justice for all. As we continue our efforts to create fairness in the justice system, it is critical we examine our own internal standards and practices. The Fight Against Implicit Bias and Racial Inequality (FAIR) pledge seeks to ensure racial equity remains a central focus of the Association and its member organizations.  

Implicit bias and racial inequality is deeply rooted in the American justice system, and other systems with which low-income and marginalized communities interact. Civil legal aid and indigent defense providers confront these issues daily in their advocacy related to healthcare, housing, education, and employment, as well as in criminal proceedings. However, scientific research has shown that implicit bias might also affect the work of our own institutions. Studies show that even people consciously committed to equality may still hold hidden, unconscious prejudices or stereotypes that influence their actions. The pervasive nature of these implicit biases has stark implications on how we engage one another in our organizations, as well as on our representation of people living in poverty.  

To address these challenges, NLADA’s Client Policy Group, chaired by Harry Johnson, passed a resolution, which the NLADA Board of Directors subsequently adopted. The resolution affirmatively acknowledges that implicit or unconscious bias is among the causes of racial inequality and structural racism and calls on NLADA and its member organizations to take concrete steps to address the impact of implicit bias in our work. 

To effectuate this Pledge, NLADA calls upon every equal justice advocate and organization to take steps toward confronting our own biases, to improve our capacity to effectively serve clients and to positively advance racial justice.  

We commit to taking the following steps and encourage our peers to do the same or undertake comparable efforts:

  • Implement a process for all staff members to take Harvard’s Implicit Association Test and discuss implications of the results for staff and clients during staff-wide meetings, led by proven experts in implicit bias training
  • Implement rigorous and ongoing implicit bias staff trainings, led by proven experts in implicit bias training
  • Institute a series of trainings that help organizational leaders address issues of implicit bias in legal aid and indigent defense programs, led by proven experts in implicit bias training
  • Recruit diverse staff and promote their inclusion and advancement within the legal aid and indigent defense communities
  • Designate and support a staff diversity officer or committee to develop ongoing strategic policies and practices that enhance respect for cultural and other differences within our organizations, and with our client communities
  • Create strong partnerships with community groups, secondary schools, universities and law schools (in particular with historically Black institutions when possible) to build pipelines for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession 
  • Complete an annual evaluation of your organization’s progress in addressing racial justice
  • Implement a process for and evaluate progress toward externally-facing work and tools, including legal strategies and bridges with other individuals and organizations

By signing below, I pledge to work toward implementing the above standards and practices.

Note: At this time, NLADA is urging civil legal aid and public defender offices to sign on to the pledge.  Only Executive Directors, Chiefs, or their designees can sign the pledge on behalf of their office.

FAIR Pledge Signatories

NLADA
Washington, DC
Contra Costa County Public Defender's Office
Martinez, CA
Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida
Orlando, FL
Legal Aid of the Bluegrass
Covington, KY
South Carolina Legal Services
Columbia, SC
Vermont Legal Aid
Burlington, VT
Alameda County Public Defender
Oakland, CA
MidPenn Legal Services
Harrisburg, PA
Montana Legal Services Association
Helena, MT
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii
Hawaii
JustLeadershipUSA
New York, NY
Statewide Legal Services
Wethersfield, CT
New York County Defender Services
New York, NY
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma (LASO)
Oklahoma City, OK
Volunteer Lawyers Project
Boston, MA
NLSLA
Glendale, CA
East Baton Rouge Parish Office of the Public Defender, 19th Jud.Dist., LA
Baton Rouge, LA
State Appellate Defender Office
Detroit, MI
Connecticut Legal Services, Inc.
Hamden, CT
Department of Public Advocacy - Georgetown Trial Office
Georgetown, KY
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid
Duluth, Fertile, Mankato, Minneapolis, St. Cloud, St. Paul, and Willmar, MN
Nevada Legal Services
Las Vegas, Reno, Elko, Carson City and Yerington, NE
Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc.
Buffalo, NY
Western Center for Defense Advocacy
Las Vegas, NE
Community Legal Services and Counseling Center
Cambridge, MA
Legal Aid Chicago
Chicago, IL
Massachusetts Advocates for Children
Boston, MA
Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Chicago, IL
Community Legal Aid
Worcester, MA
Public Justice Center
Baltimore, MD
Montgomery County Public Defenders (PA)
Norristown, PA
Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services
Hartford, CT
Legal Aid of Wyoming Inc.
Cheyenne, WY
Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo
Buffalo, NY
Legal Services of the Hudson Valley
White Plains, NY
Queens Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc.
Jamaica, NY
Urban Justice Center
New York, NY
Western New York Law Center
Buffalo, NY
Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York
Albany, NY
Center for Elder Law & Justice
Buffalo, NY
Hudson Valley Justice Center
White Plains, NY
Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc. (VLP)
Buffalo, NY
Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County
Rochester, NY
Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc.
Buffalo, NY
The Legal Aid Society of Rochester, NY
Rochester, NY
Her Justice
New York, NY
Virginia Poverty Law Center
Richmond, VA
The Legal Aid Society
New York, NY
New York Legal Services Coalition
New York State