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Law And More: Chairperson Brad Karp Puts Paul Weiss in Leadership Position on Law-Firm Help for Abortion Access


“… we [at Paul Weiss] will be taking action on multiple fronts, in New York and nationally. To that end … we are spearheading the coalition of law firms and reproductive rights organizations, pursuant to the initiative led by New York Attorney General Letitia James to ensure that access to abortion remains available in New York to all who desire such access, including residents of other states. Our San Francisco office is working with the San Francisco Bar Association and the City Attorney to ensure access to legal abortions in California.” In an internal memo at Paul Weiss, by Chairperson Brad Karp. Here is a copy of the entire memo. It is made available by Abovethelaw. 

Part of that multiple outreach is matching Paul Weiss employee donations to nonprofits serving reproductive rights. That match will go up to $1,500. 

BradkarpKarp is taking this initiative at a time when such formal public shows of support are risky to the business of some law firms. Reuters Legal hammers how the controversy over the “Dobbs” decision has pushed most law firms into silence. Their clients could be all over the place in their perceptions of the SCOTUS ruling. 

No one knows yet how Kirkland & Ellis’ decision to end representation of second-amendment cases will affect its business and its brand. What became high-profile was the ultimatum it gave partner Paul Clement about droppinog those clients or leaving the firm. Clement had just won representing a firearms client in a SCOTUS review. He has left Kirkland & Ellis to form his own boutique specializing in second-amendment issues.

Here’s what we know about Karp: He is atypical in the law-firm niche, even among progressive firms. What makes him unusual are these two attributes:

Visionary. That is in an industry which seems preoccupied with the here-and-now of Profits Per Equity Partner and new business development. He looks beyond, in every aspect of law.

For instance, he predicted in a seminal Bloomberg Law interview how ESG issues would entangle law firms, just as they were clients. He also went on record in Leaders Magazine, before The Wall Street Journal introduced the subject, that law firms had to provide comprehensive business solutions to clients, not just legal guidance. 

Innovative in social justice. During the first confusing days of COVID in 2020, Karp saw the need for a free user-friendly online resource for individuals and businesses to access information and concrete resources for help. To make it happen he mobilized thousands of lawyers from law firms throughout America to create that – pro bono. It got done in record time. And, it’s still functioning. When war broke out in the Ukraine, Karp was among the first out there to organize assistance, including fundraising mechanisms.

So here Brad Karp is: In a high-reach PIVOT podcast with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway, he has been declared a “change agent.” In these turbulent political times that kind of positioning requires courage. We boomers recall US President John F. Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage.” A 21st century version of that could include heroes such as Karp. It is said that the heroes we choose showcase who we are as a society. With Karp as our hero, perhaps our society has a solid foundation. 

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