Pirkey Barber believes having an inclusive environment is essential to our culture and our success.Read More
We value and are committed to providing pro bono services, and work in partnership with community legal services groups.Read More
Pirkey Barber dedicates time and resources to support our local communities.Read More
RESPONDING TO SYSTEMIC RACISM AND RACIAL INJUSTICE
Where Do We Stand?
At Pirkey Barber, we share the outrage at the ongoing and disproportionate violence towards people of color in this country, and the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others. Like others, we feel compelled to not only speak up but to take action to fight the injustices experienced by minority communities. We stand alongside everyone impacted by these events, especially our communities, clients, and firm family members of color. It is an important time to reiterate we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind at Pirkey Barber, and we remain committed to continuing to educate ourselves on the most impactful ways we can support and advocate for minorities—within our firm, the legal industry, and our communities. We look forward to finding more opportunities for Pirkey Barber to be an agent of change.
What Are We Doing?
In 2020 we began holding a series of firm-wide townhalls to not only learn about the ongoing social injustices experienced by people of color, but to explore how our firm can most effectively reject racism and discrimination, create a more diverse environment and, more broadly, effect change within the legal field and our communities. At our first virtual townhall, several of our employees courageously shared their own personal stories and experiences. It was emotional, challenging, and powerful. We are committed to continuing our firm-wide townhalls on a regular basis, including having experts and guest speakers from minority and diverse communities attend to share their stories, experiences, perspectives, and recommendations. These townhalls educate and challenge us. They also provide space and time for us each to reflect, examine our own privileges and the advantages we have as members of the legal community, and to discuss how we can help impact change.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Here are examples of other specific goals, some continuing and some new, we have set for our firm:
Welcome and Incorporate Feedback: We want to extend our conversations beyond our firm to the community at large. We are ready to listen and learn from others about the role law firms play in promoting and supporting racial justice. To that end, we welcome your thoughts and suggestions by contacting our Firm Diversity Committee here.
Commit to a Diverse Workplace: We are rededicating ourselves to making a continuing and long-term commitment to actively recruit, retain, and advance currently under-represented attorneys of color at our firm and within other legal organizations.
Take Action: We have made and matched donations from our employees to various organizations recommended by our Firm Diversity Committee. We are hopeful these contributions will help to shape a future that looks brighter than our past. We are also encouraging each other to get actively involved in the many great organizations nationally and within our community that are committed to racial justice and equality.
CREATING AN INCLUSIVE CULTURE
Pirkey Barber’s focus on diversity is manifest in the recruitment, retention, development, and advancement of our attorneys and professional staff. Our policies are designed to ensure the equitable treatment of all personnel in compensation and benefits, professional development, promotion, and career opportunities.
Pirkey Barber is an equal opportunity employer that makes an affirmative effort to recruit women, LGBT+, and members of racial and ethnic minorities. We actively strive to expand diversity throughout our firm and across all substantive legal disciplines. It is our policy to:
- Recruit, hire, train, and promote persons in all job classifications without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sexual orientation, sexual identity, gender identity, national origin, age, or genetic information.
- Make human resource decisions that further the principle of equal employment opportunity.
- Align promotion decisions with principles of equal employment opportunity by imposing only valid requirements for such advancement.
- Ensure that all personnel actions, such as compensation, benefits, transfers, and social and recreational programs, are administered without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sexual orientation, sexual identity, gender identity, national origin, age, or genetics.
Our firm recognizes that the field of intellectual property law has been traditionally underrepresented in terms of women, LGBT+, and members of racial, ethnic, and other minority groups. As a result, we make annual contributions to the Foundation for Advancement of Diversity in IP Law, an organization dedicated to promoting diversity and minority employment in IP law. In addition, we are active in other diverse organizations, such as the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and the Austin Black Lawyers Association.
RECRUITING WITH DIVERSITY IN MIND
Pirkey Barber is committed to encouraging and sustaining a culture of diversity and inclusion where everyone is treated equally and with the utmost dignity and respect. Diversity is a core value of our firm and we believe it is imperative to our success. We strive to foster an environment that values the contributions of and promotes expanded opportunities for people from a variety of backgrounds.
Our commitment to diversity includes, but is not limited to, age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, political affiliation, socio-economic status, veteran status, religious and spiritual beliefs, disability status, and any other characteristics that make an individual unique. We focus on both best practices and policies that support the inclusion of people from all backgrounds to make everyone feel welcome.
It is in our differences and multitude of life experiences, capabilities, perspectives, and talents that make our firm successful. Notably, Pirkey Barber created and instituted a Diversity Committee and adopted a Strategic Diversity Management Plan to develop and maintain a more well-rounded and inclusive workplace.
Proud of our steadfast focus on pro bono endeavors, Pirkey Barber provides pro bono services within our specialty areas of practice, as well as takes on cases that are outside our immediate purview in partnership with community legal services groups. Moreover, we partner with Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas to ensure that poverty is not a barrier to justice.
Examples of Pirkey Barber’s pro bono representation includes:
- In partnership with Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas (VLS), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that provides civil legal services to low-income people through attorney volunteers in Travis County, we have handled several litigations. Our firm has been involved in helping victims of abuse end violent relationships, connecting persons with disabilities with medical and financial benefits, and keeping individuals and families from homelessness by defending against wrongful evictions and foreclosures.
- Every Texan is a nonpartisan nonprofit focusing on strengthening public policy to expand opportunities and equity for every Texan. Our firm guided the organization in its rebrand to EVERY TEXAN, from the Center for Public Policy Priorities. This included helping the client define its many service offerings, as well as clearing and prosecuting a federal trademark application for the mark. We also provided trademark counseling regarding the procurement of new domain names.
- Represented an indigent client in a federal lawsuit alleging constitutional violations arising from the police shooting of the client’s German Shepherd.
- Represented an indigent client through the legal probate process, assisting with decisions to ensure minimal impact on the government-provided benefits relied upon by a close family member with a mental disability.
- Represented an indigent victim of a rear-end collision that damaged the client’s vehicle and injured her back.
- Represented a non-profit organization that coordinates and provides children in domestic violence shelters with toys, hygiene products, clothing, and other items.
- Represented a company that helps impoverished women in Ethiopia sell their jewelry in the United States with the goal of establishing financial independence. We provided trademark counseling and clearance searches, as well as filed applications for their marks.
Pirkey Barber is an active participant in supporting the communities in which we live and work. Illustrative examples include:
Rebekah Baines Johnson Center
The Rebekah Baines Johnson Center is an independent living facility in Austin that has helped low-income seniors and people with disabilities for more than 40 years. Their mission is to provide housing and services to meet the physical, social, and psychological needs of residents through affordable housing, and to cultivating a supportive community environment and offering much-needed resources.
Our firm collected donations for more than six weeks and was able to provide three truckloads of groceries, paper goods, and toiletries to serve over 100 residents. The RBJ Center allowed us to set up a temporary on-site store for an afternoon, where we assisted residents as they selected items they needed and made deliveries to their apartment units. It was a rewarding opportunity to interact with residents in support of this important segment of our community.
We partnered with the Baylor Scott & White Blood Center to host a building-wide blood drive. We believe there is always a need for blood donations, yet it can be difficult to carve out the time to donate. As a solution to this problem, we thought we’d bring the bus to us! Multiple businesses joined us in donating over 21 lifesaving pints of blood with several drop-in donors participating because they saw the trucks parked outside and wanted to do to their part. Donating blood is a unique gift that is life-affirming so we were proud to host the event.
Communities In Schools (CIS) of Central Texas builds relationships that empower students to stay in school and succeed in life. CIS is the nation’s largest and most effective dropout prevention organization. For four decades, CIS has helped students in school and through graduation to realize bright futures. CIS assists in everything from providing immediate needs such as food or clothing, to counseling and emotional support. In the fall of 2018, we partnered with the Austin Association of Legal Administrators to collect bulk hygiene supplies and socks for local students through CIS of Central Texas.
Pirkey Barber donated to the Eagle Scout Project for Darnell Smalls, the son of Jeanette Smalls, a Legal Assistant at our firm. For his Eagle Project, Darnell chose to work with the Aboom School for Special Needs in Ghana, South Africa. Together, we donated books and school supplies in addition to a financial contribution. Aboom seeks to alleviate the duties of the special needs children’s families, provide education, and offer an opportunity to earn income. Many of the children are from impoverished homes and without the resources needed to succeed and lack supplies, particularly coloring books and Art & Craft class materials. Darnell coordinated with his family and local community members to build and stock bookshelves for the school’s library and to clean up the playground and soccer fields.
The School for Special Needs in Aboom was established in 2006 by Professor Adrian Kniel, a consultant of GTZ Support to Special Education. He worked with the University of Education Winneba and the Special Education Division of the Ghana Education Service to make this venture a reality. It is one of 23 similar schools in the Ghana region. Upon establishment, the school catered to seven students and has since grown to accommodate many more students with a range of disabilities, including cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, and other intellectual difficulties.
The school currently caters to 101 students. Their academic curriculum consists of functional academics, such as vocational skills, computation, and writing in the areas of baking, monetary transactions, and sewing—all of which prepare the students to function in everyday Ghanaian society.