Four lawyers have teamed up to form a charity to tackle racial injustice in the UK, with Clifford Chance providing financial support to the initiative.
The magic circle firm is providing advice to One Case At A Time (OCAAT), set up by 5 St Andrews Hill’s Alexandra Wilson, Freeths trainee solicitor Isaac Eloi, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s Raifa Rafiq and Doughty Street’s Tunde Okewale.
OCAAT is a non-profit organisation, whose mission is to facilitate access to justice, funding and legal representation for disenfranchised minorities with a specific focus on Black people.
While there isn’t a specific type of case that OCAAT will focus on, matters of interest are likely to involve a racial element, such as employment disputes, and civil and criminal claims.
Trustees of the charity will be involved in raising funds and grants, before then deciding how the funds are used and reporting back to grantees. OCAAT trustees will also match members of the public who need free legal advice with practitioners who are providing pro bono work.
Speaking to The Lawyer, Okewale said the charity was borne as a direct consequence of the death of George Floyd when the four realised that not a lot had been done to address inequalities – especially in the legal market.
“We have come together to try and do something for racial injustice, especially for Black people. OCAAT is a fund and vehicle for strategic litigation. We have raised £25,000 so far, incorporated as a company and in the process of incorporating as a charity. It was a name that I thought of, as we feel that justice can be accomplished one case at a time,” he said.
“We have been fortunate to have Clifford Chance come forward and be active in a dialogue to combat racial injustice, David Boyd reached out to me and has been integral. We will be working with a number of fee-paying clients at Clifford Chance once we are operational.”
Clifford Chance will be providing financial support to the charity and is also giving the charity pro bono advice as it incorporates as a charity and company. OCAAT has been able to tap into Clifford Chance’s client network, with the Bank of America providing pro bono advice to OCAAT.
Clifford Chance’s head of pro bono, David Boyd, said: “With the murder of George Floyd it became imperative to support organisations and while researching I came across Tunde’s campaign. We want to develop a long-term relationship with OCAAT, providing advice on their strategy and structure and in the long term provide litigation support – which is propelled by Helen Carty, who is the relationship partner. All the work with OCAAT is pro bono.”