Six City firms have won plaudits for helping establish a new national Black British civil rights group.

The Black Equity Organisation, unveiled today, is founded by some of the UK’s most influential Black leaders from the worlds of business, law, arts and social justice. Its journey began in the wake of the George Floyd protests and the subsequent spotlight on the racial inequalities that black people experience.

Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Slaughter and May provided seed funding as well as pro bono advice on operational and governance issues, and registering BEO with the Charity Commission.

Dame Vivian Hunt, BEO’s chair of trustees, 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 of 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.’

Justice, immigration and rights is one of BEO’s six key mandates, focused on removing the sources of racial discrimination and eliminating disparities that black people face in the criminal justice system.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: 'I am pleased to welcome the creation of the Black Equity Organisation, whose objectives include improving race equity in the justice system as well as in wider society. It is great to see law firms providing seed funding and offering pro bono advice.

'George Floyd’s death in 2020 brought into sharp focus the discrimination black people around the world face, while Covid-19 disproportionally impacted black people economically and medically. Racism and all forms of discrimination and prejudice have no place in our justice system - or in any other aspect of society.

'We look forward to following the work Black Equity Organisation does for black people in the UK as it seeks to dismantle systemic racism and to promote equality and positive change.'