The law firm Kirkland & Ellis, which represented historically Black colleges and universities in Maryland in a lawsuit against the state, will donate the millions in fees it received from the settlement to colleges and nonprofits, The Washington Post reported.
Alumni and advocates of the HBCUs sued Maryland over chronic underfunding of the institutions and settled the case last year after a 15-year legal battle. The state agreed to allocate an additional $577 million to the HBCUs over 10 years and to pay $22 million in legal fees and costs as a part of the settlement, $12.5 million of which went to Kirkland & Ellis.
The firm took the case pro bono and will donate the funds to a number of causes, including $5 million to the Dillard University Center for Racial Justice in New Orleans to fund paid internships at civil rights and public interest organizations, $3 million to Morgan State University’s Robert M. Bell Center for Civil Rights, and $600,000 to Howard University’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center. The firm will also give $1 million to the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education to fund student fellowships and internships, especially on Capitol Hill. The group that brought the lawsuit, the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, will also receive $600,000.
“So many of us became lawyers to fight injustice and give our clients a fair shake not only in the courtroom, but also in society,” Michael D. Jones, a litigation partner at the firm, said in a statement. “This case has allowed me, and my colleagues, to do just that.”