Earlier, this year, the Maryland legislature approved a settlement of a long-running lawsuit filed by the state’s historically Black universities. The suit, originally filed in 2006, worked its way through the courts until a judge ruled in 2013 that Maryland had maintained “a dual and segregated education system.” An appeals court upheld the decision and parties were deadlocked on the settlement for many years.
The settlement calls for payments of $577 million over a 10-year period beginning in 2023 to the state’s four historically Black educational institutions: Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Bowie State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
The settlement also approved $22 million in legal fees for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis. Attorneys for Kirkland & Ellis worked a total of 38,000 hours on the case.
“We fought this case on so many playing fields with two trials, five mediations, a Fourth Circuit appeal, and three legislative hearings, as well as numerous press conferences,” said attorney Michael D. Jones. “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. This case has allowed me, and my colleagues, to do just that.”
Kirkland & Ellis is entitled to fees of $12.5 million. But the law firm announced that it will donate the fees to seven organizations.
- The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
- Howard University’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center
- The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education
- The African Methodist Episcopal Church Second District
- Dillard University Center for Racial Justice in New Orleans
- Morgan State University in Baltimore
- The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law