Bond joins Onondaga County Bar Association and SU College of Law to present Race & Justice in CNY Initiative

September 11, 2020

We are pleased to announce the Bond, Schoeneck & King Series on Race & Justice in CNY, a full year of legal and non-legal programming aimed at opening a respectful, constructive and healthy dialogue about systemic racism and unequal access to justice in our community. The firm is the presenting sponsor of this initiative of the Onondaga County Bar Association (OCBA) and Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL).

“Within Bond we acknowledge the systemic, dehumanizing racism that permeates the very foundation of this country,” said Kevin Bernstein, chair of the Bond, Schoeneck & King Management Committee.  “We are committed to listening and learning. We are committed to action by working to promote anti-racism initiatives and intentional diversity throughout our communities, the legal profession and our firm.”

The Race & Justice in CNY program will offer a variety of events throughout 2020-21 designed to energize participants in working toward a community unified around the tenet of “Liberty and Justice for All.” By engaging a broad cross-section of our neighbors on multiple platforms – including a communitywide book discussion and continuing legal education seminars – the initiative seeks to identify specific actions we can take, individually and as a community, to move reform forward. 

“As lawyers, we are responsible to uphold the rule of law and the rights to equal protection and due process for all,” OCBA President Paula M. Engel said. “By creating this yearlong series of programs, the Bar Association, together with Syracuse University’s College of Law, will lead the effort to identify and remove the forces in our legal systems that oppress and marginalize people of color right here in our CNY community.” 

Paula C. Johnson, professor and director of SUCOL’s Cold Case Justice Initiative said: “This project is important on a broad scale because we want to include the many voices across our community who have interest, experience or solutions to racial justice issues in law enforcement and across all institutions. We are all stakeholders in addressing these problems.”

The first event in the series is a community read of the book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” by Bryan Stevenson. The 10-week online book discussion, which will be facilitated by SU’s Johnson, kicks off Monday, Sept. 14, with a Zoom meeting from 6 to 7:30 pm. To learn more and register, please visit OCBA Community Book Read: Just Mercy

“Sponsoring the Race & Justice in CNY initiative provides us the opportunity to support our community and to continue learning ourselves,” Bernstein said. “It is one way we can play a part in eradicating the scourge of racism to build stronger, inclusive communities where we live and work.” 

Other programming planned so far includes:

  • Continuing Legal Education seminars on legislative reforms addressing racial injustice in our legal systems, adopted or proposed, and historical context. (Fall 2020 – Spring 2021)
  • Taking the INSIDE BASEBALL, OUT of Your Government: A three-part series addressing what residents need to know about how local governments operate. (Fall 2020 – Spring 2021)
  • Racial Injustice in Every Practice of Law: Specific programs, targeted to legal systems in criminal justice, family law, trusts and estates, real estate, etc., about racial injustice and disparities in those particular areas of the law. (Spring 2021)
  • Champion of Law Award: The OCBA will present this first-ever honor to recognize an attorney for their notable achievement in advancing the rule of law and/or administration of justice.

“I would like to thank our Diversity Committee and our Attorney Professional Development and Diversity Officer Kim Wolf Price for their continuing efforts to identify opportunities for the firm to be part of our community and to be proactive in joining with organizations like the OCBA and the Syracuse University College of Law to ensure that issues such as systemic racism and unequal access to justice are forefront in our minds in these turbulent times,” Bernstein said.