(Washington, D.C.) – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a leading national civil rights organization, announced today that Joseph K. West has been named the new board co-chair of the national Lawyers’ Committee Board of Directors. Mr. West joins current board co-chair Judge Shira Scheindlin to lead and advise the full board of the Lawyers’ Committee to ensure that it continues to advance civil rights and secure equal justice for all.
“Joseph West and Judge Shira Scheindlin will lead our board of directors at a time of considerable political upheaval and change, while the civil rights of vulnerable communities remain under attack,” said Damon Hewitt, acting president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Their respective records of leadership in the legal profession, commitment to social justice, and efforts to advance diversity make them well-positioned to lead our board and the modern-day civil rights movement. As the nation’s leading civil rights legal organization that carries out its work in partnership with the private bar, we are proud to have this dynamic pairing of leaders in our fight to advance justice and promote civil rights.”
Mr. West serves as a partner at Philadelphia-based Duane Morris, LLP where he practices in the area of complex litigation, including, but not limited to, class actions, insurance litigation, commercial litigation, zoning and land use, catastrophic injury, products liability and labor and employment. Mr. West also is a member of the firm’s board of directors and serves as the firm’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, in which capacity he manages Duane Morris’ comprehensive firm-wide diversity and inclusion program and chairs the firm’s Diversity Inclusion and Equity Consulting Practice. Mr. West also advises domestic and global companies on a wide array of legal issues, and also represents, trains and advises numerous associations and companies, including publicly traded companies and their boards and CEOs. He formerly served as associate general counsel at Walmart Stores, Inc. and as CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA). In 2019, Mr. West was the inaugural recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Equity and Inclusion from the prestigious Chambers & Partners.
“The work and advocacy of the national Lawyers’ Committee is well-positioned for a successful 2021 and beyond and I am thrilled to help lead our board to deploy members of the private bar nationwide to fight for civil rights in our courts,” said West. “As I’ve said before, the legal profession has come a long way in opening up opportunities for our communities and citizens, but there is still much more work to be done. The private bar can do a better job of reaching out to and representing historically underrepresented populations in America. I look forward to continuing that process with our staff and fellow board members.”
Judge Scheindlin serves as counsel for Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP. As a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for 22 years, Judge Scheindlin presided over many high-profile trials, including the landmark stop-and-frisk litigation in New York City, as well as many civil and criminal cases involving cutting edge issues that often involved claims of discrimination or a violation of constitutional rights. She spent seven years as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States Committee on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which ensured that revisions to those rules were beneficial to the entire legal community. She previously served as a magistrate judge in the Eastern District of New York and as an assistant U.S. attorney in that district. After holding those positions, she practiced law for eight years as a partner in two large New York City law firms, representing clients in both commercial litigation and product liability. Most recently, she authored a benchmark study of diversity in the legal profession. She is now engaged in the practice of arbitration and mediation.
Judge Scheindlin added, “The national Lawyers’ Committee has spearheaded the charge to challenge the most crucial and pressing civil rights issues of our time. From voting rights to fair housing, criminal justice, and equal educational opportunity, I am honored to help lead this organization and this board in its efforts to advance social justice in our nation. I look forward to continuing these efforts, particularly in these challenging times. The mission of the national Lawyers’ Committee is more important than ever, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to support this very special organization’s mission in my capacity as co-chair of the board. I am especially excited to work with Joe West, a lawyer of incredible skill and distinction who will bring so much experience to his role as co-chair of the board.”
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.