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Freshfields collaborates to support launch of the Black Equity Organisation, the UK’s first national Black British civil rights organisation

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (‘Freshfields’) is supporting the launch of the Black Equity Organisation (BEO), a national and independent civil rights organisation founded to advance justice and equity for Black people in Britain, in collaboration with Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Slaughter and May.

The BEO is founded by some of the UK’s most influential Black leaders from the worlds of business, law, arts and social justice. In support of the BEO, together, the six firms provided legal advice focusing on seed funding, operational and governance issues and registration of the new organisation with the Charity Commission – all on a pro bono basis.

Initiated in 2020 in the wake of the global George Floyd protests and the spotlight on the racial inequalities for Black people, the BEO has been formed to take a data-driven approach in promoting economic, political and social equity for Black communities in Britain, in order to ensure equal opportunity for progress and prosperity. Along with the six core law firm supporters, the BEO has also has the backing of WPP and Sky amongst others.

In support of the organisation, the six law firms have provided strategic, financial and advisory support, as part of a commitment to work towards tackling racism in the UK.

Partnering with organisations in the private, public and non-profit sectors to address issues of structural racism, the BEO aims to tackle the six key mandates:

  • Economic empowerment & equity of opportunity - to ensure Black communities are economically empowered and have the same professional and career opportunities as others.
  • Education - to close the education attainment gap that exists between Black and White children in the UK throughout school and university, with knock-on effects in the labour-force.
  • Justice, immigration & rights – to remove the sources of racial discrimination and eliminate disparities Black individuals experience within the criminal justice system.
  • Culture, awareness & respect – to build broad public awareness of the existence of systemic racism in British society and its impact on Black communities to galvanize public support , outrage and commitment to eliminate sources of systemic racism.
  • Health, wellness & care – to achieve health equality for all Black people in the UK including a healthy life and high-quality freely available health care, with equal outcomes irrespective of race.
  • Housing and community – to address and remove the economic, structural and political barriers that contribute to the vast overrepresentation of Black people in rented and social accommodation and underrepresentation in privately owned accommodation.

BEO’s Chair of Trustees, Dame Vivian Hunt said: “Our partner law firms were among the first organisations to join us in our journey. By devoting their time, expertise and passion they have played a vital role in the establishment the Black Equity Organisation (BEO). We look forward to deepening our partnerships with each of these law firms, and indeed others that wish to work with BEO, as together we work towards equity for Black Britons and broader society. We’d like to publicly thank these law firms for all that they have done."

Freshfields’ sponsor partner Deba Das, commented: “We are incredibly proud to be part of the legal community supporting the BEO at launch.  This new UK civil rights charity will strive for civil and criminal justice reform and the promotion of legal rights to eliminate disparities that Black individuals experience, including through strategic litigation. This aligns with our strategic focus on pro bono work with clients to tackle systemic issues and to positively impact on access to justice and opportunity in the communities in which we operate, using the skills and resources available to us. I am pleased to be collaborating with our peer firms in leveraging our combined strength to tackle issues of systemic racism and making clear our combined commitment to inclusivity.”

For more information about BEO please visit the BEO website –

Freshfields also recently launched its inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Annual Review 2022, highlighting the firm’s progress on its five-year global commitments and targets for gender, race and ethnicity, and LGBTQ+ representation. Progress made includes a +67% increase in the number of Black associates this year, meaning the firm is on track to reach its target by 2026.

Those initiatives and strategic commitments aimed at improving diverse representation at Freshfields includes the ‘Future Leaders’ talent programme, which provides bespoke training supporting Black and ethnically diverse colleagues’ progression; and the Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme, which seeks to address the disproportionate under-representation in large commercial law firms and other City institutions of Black men from less socially mobile backgrounds. Further initiatives include Freshfields’ Aspiring Professionals Programme (APP), a social mobility outreach programme created in partnership with the Social Mobility Foundation to support talented young people from social mobility ‘cold spot’ areas.

Freshfields is proud of its leading practice representing third party interveners in systemic cases.