As part of WMU-Cooley Law School’s Community Conversations series, the law school’s Federal Bar Association hosted Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine on May 19. The virtual discussion, What is Social Justice? drew on Racine’s 30 years of legal and leadership experience. Over the course of his career, he has worked at the D.C. Public Defender Service and served as Associate White House Counsel to President Bill Clinton.
During the conversation, Racine highlighted the role attorneys play to help the most vulnerable. "Now is the time to step up to access to justice,” said Racine. “There are many opportunities for lawyers to help those who are most vulnerable."
While speaking about the increased needs of the country’s vulnerable due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Racine said there is going to be a high rate of evictions that will need lawyers to step up to provide help to families in these situations.
“Tenants who are facing eviction, 96 percent of the tenants go unrepresented. Landlords who seek evictions, 98 percent are well represented. We know what the outcomes tend to be in that kind of setting,” said Racine.
Responding to why he made the transition from private practice where, where he was managing partner of a large law firm, into public service, Racine said he wasn’t tired of his old job, but felt that most of his time was focusing on money, or the business aspects of the firm.
“I just didn’t think it was the best use of my time while here on earth,” said Racine. “When the opportunity to devote more of my time to something that didn’t have to do with money arose, I jumped at it.”
He explained that having a law degree is like having a passport and allows attorneys to engage in the practice of law with different focuses.
The full Community Conversation, What is Social Justice? can be viewed at WMU-Cooley’s YouTube channel.