Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch Calls on Lawyers to Speak Out Against the Assault on Voting Rights

By Brendan Kennedy

Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch Calls on Lawyers to Speak Out Against the Assault on Voting Rights

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Former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch has a message for minority law students, “Embrace being different.”

Lynch, the first African-American woman to serve as U.S. Attorney General, gave remarks after receiving the Robert L. Haig Award from New York State Bar Association’s Commercial and Federal Litigation Section on Friday, May 7.

“Every minority in this country knows the experience of moving between cultures and that fluidity of experience, that flexibility of thought,” Lynch said. “It is a skill well-suited to navigating the waters of our current political and cultural landscape, which requires the ability to see and understand people different from oneself.”

The former attorney general, who is now a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, spoke about the need for diverse voices in the legal profession, which is especially needed given the state of our current political climate.

“We need young lawyers of all backgrounds to help us move through the challenges of today,” Lynch said. “We need their energy, we need their optimism, we need their commitment to reason and debate. The exploration of ideas is a pathway to the truth and we need this now, as the very concept of truth is under assault.”

She also discussed the responsibility that lawyers have to speak out against efforts to suppress voting rights, as is currently happening in Florida, Texas and Georgia. She applauded the work of her fellow partners Brad Karp and Bob Atkins, as well as the general counsel of several prominent corporations based in states where these bills are being signed into law.

“The vote is the hallmark of our democracy,” Lynch said. “It is time for the legal community to stand up against the renewed cynical efforts to undermine our constitution and to fight to protect the voting rights of all Americans.”

The award is given each year to a long-standing member of the legal profession who has rendered distinguished public service. Haig, a litigator at Kelley Drye in New York City, was the founder and first chair of the section.

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