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Highlights from the 2023 Scales of Justice (Equal Justice Works Event)

The Scales of Justice presented by Equal Justice Works at the Marriott Marquis on Tuesday, October 24th, 2023 in Washington. (Joy Asico / Asico Photo)


Read on Equal Justice Works’ Website Here.

On October 24, 2023, Equal Justice Works gathered hundreds of leaders and supporters from the legal community for the annual Scales of Justice Event. This year’s event gathered our community of Fellows, Alumni, and supporters in Washington, D.C., to support our mission and to honor Jim Chosy, the Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel of U.S. Bancorp. We also expanded our program to honor a member of our Fellow alumni community alongside our Scales of Justice Honoree. Equal Justice Works CEO Verna Williams presented the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award to the President & CEO of Bet Tzedek and 2004 Fellow alum, Diego Cartagena, for his notable career and lasting impact on improving access to justice.

Thanks to generous event sponsors and donors, we raised more than $3.1 million to support our efforts to mobilize a community of lawyers committed to public service and equal justice!

The Chair of the Equal Justice Works Board of Directors, Kate Fritz, gave an introduction to the organization’s mission and its vision before introducing the CEO of Equal Justice Works, Verna Williams. During her remarks, Verna touched on what she has learned since joining the organization last year and shared the organization’s vision moving forward, which is deeply grounded in values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“We now seek to develop a racial justice program that will concentrate on developing skills to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable treatment… tools that, in turn, can be used throughout our Fellowship programs,” said Verna during her remarks. “This new program is right out of Equal Justice Works’s extensive playbook, stepping into an area of need to mobilize new public interest leaders at a critical time.”

During the program, we highlighted the incredible work of our Fellows, including 2021 Fellow Emily Neely’s work, which provides civil legal aid to community members affected by substance use disorder in West Virginia. Watch Emily’s video below to learn more about the impact of her work:

Our 2023 Text-to-Give Fellow, Jaden Lajyll Zwick Ojeaburu, took the stage to discuss her project with the Collective For Liberatory Lawyering to dismantle the school to prison pipeline. In response, attendees texted in donations totaling more than $75,000 to fund one more 2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow who, like Jaden, will pursue their passion to help individuals and communities in need.

Equal Justice Works also celebrated the unprecedented support by Greenberg Traurig. This year, the firm sponsored its 201st Fellows since 1999, which amounts to more than $14.5 million in support. At the event, Caroline Heller, the chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Pro Bono program, introduced Senior Chairman Cesar Alvarez, who shared a personal and moving story about his journey to the U.S. and the firm’s motivation to support Equal Justice Works.

After dinner, Diego Cartagena was presented with the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award for his incredible career demonstrating his commitment to public service and equal justice. Diego told the story of how he became a Fellow, and how his Fellowship prepared him for his career in public interest law.

The program concluded with the presentation of the Scales of Justice Award, in which Jim Chosy was introduced by his long-time colleague and friend, former member of the Equal Justice Works board of directors, and President of Bates College, Garry Jenkins. Jim Chosy then took the stage to speak about the importance of public interest work in achieving justice.

“It’s long past time that we… address the obvious truth that we’re not delivering on the promise of equal justice.” Jim stated in his remarks. “Despite the dire state of today’s justice gap, I do have hope and optimism for the future. While historically the law has been slow to change, the pace of change is increasing, driven by forces like technology which is causing both disruption and innovation. Also, new generations are entering the profession and bringing energy, creativity, and a forceful demand that the system should actually live up to its ideals.”

The 2023 Scales of Justice event was hosted by emcee Michelle Miller, bestselling author and cohost of CBS Saturday Morning.

Huge thanks to everyone who made this program possible: Champion of Justice sponsors Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and Morgan Lewis, our other event sponsors, the 2023 Steering Committee, our staff, and all who attended and supported the Scales of Justice!

The generosity and dedication of our community is greatly appreciated and will help to bring us closer to fulfilling our nation’s promise of equal justice for all.