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JANUARY 2018 - Sexual Harassment Initiative
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New Legal Defense Fund To Combat Sexual Harassment

As reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault have dominated the news in recent weeks, many of us in the legal profession have been particularly outraged to read the reports of how victims have been subjected to further bullying and harassment by members of our profession.  We have further learned how many victims do not have the resources or means to obtain legal representation, which means the victims themselves are fearful of coming forward, or when they do, the lawyers for the accused are pressuring and threatening them. This is especially true for women in low wage jobs, like hotel and restaurant workers, office cleaning staff, and farm workers.   Many are also subjected to public pressure and exposure, without any access to public relations professionals to assist them.

There is clearly a gap in legal services for these victims, both women and men, and one that we as lawyers who care about justice and fairness can fill.  I am writing to enlist your assistance in filling that gap.  Several of us have been working over the past few weeks to establish a legal defense fund that would raise funds to help support individuals who experience sexual harassment, including sexual assault and sexual abuse in the work place or in trying to advance their careers in obtaining legal representation, whether it be for advice, to defend against defamation or other claims that may be brought against them, or to pursue legal claims, especially in cases that are unlikely to result in monetary awards large enough to attract private representation because, for example, the claimant is a low-wage worker.  The fund would be housed at an established, national women’s rights legal organization.  The charitable funds raised would be used to help cover costs and fees, as funds are available and as need requires it, and to administer the program.

We now need lawyers who are willing to participate to serve these clients, giving voice to so many who are now voiceless.  I am asking if you would agree to serve as a participating counsel in this effort.  By being a participating counsel, you would agree to handle cases on a pro bono or reduced fee basis, understanding that the ability to cover fees and costs will depend on the amount of money raised and the demand for assistance in priority cases.  A procedure will be put in place so that conflicts can be checked as cases come in, and counsel can express their availability to take on cases.  The clients will be presented with a choice of  counsel and will make their own decision about who to retain. 

While some of the work will be plaintiff-side work representing employees seeking Title VII or other redress for on the job or other work-related harassment, we also expect there will be cases that are defensive in nature, where the victim is not or cannot seek damages but he or she is being retaliated against for speaking out.  There may also be clients who are not interested in litigation, but need transactional advice in negotiations regarding claims.  So I am hoping that lawyers from across the spectrum will join us in this important effort.

More details on the organization that will house the fund will be available in the coming days, and we will announce the fund publicly then as well.  This started with impetus from leaders in the entertainment industry, but the intent is to make this support available to workers in all industries.  I anticipate that once the fund is announced, there will be calls for help coming in right away, so I am hoping you will join me in this effort.  Please also pass this along to other lawyers you believe may be interested.  If you are interested, please let me and my colleague here at Buckley Sandler, Lauren Quigley, know as soon as possible, including whether your firm is interested in being a supporter and who can be the point person for your firm.  Also let us know if you are willing to have your firm’s name publicly listed in material regarding the fund.  If you are interested in making a financial contribution, please let us know and we can send you information on how to do that, but to be clear, making a financial contribution is not necessary to be a participating attorney. We will keep you updated as details are finalized. 

For more information, please contact Lauren Quiqly at  


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