Spotlight: Benjamin Wilson

Throughout his distinguished legal career in private practice and government service, Ben Wilson has fought discrimination, promoted diversity, and supported DC public schools. He has been a leader with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for over 30 years, co-counseling on cases, establishing an innovative school partnership between his firm and a local elementary school, and twice serving as a Board Co-Chair. Ben also gives generously, with a long record of financial support to the Committee.

Growing up in Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, Ben saw first-hand both the terror and evolving opportunities of the time. Ben’s father knew Medgar Evers, who was murdered when Ben was 12. The wife of James Meredith—who integrated the University of Mississippi in 1962—was Ben’s teacher.

 

bwilsonBen’s parents, who were both educators, taught him that “education was the great equalizer.” He committed to his own education and to making educational opportunities available for others.

Ben studied at Dartmouth College and Harvard Law (where he met his wife Merinda on the first day of registration!). He began his career at a large private firm in Atlanta, then served in the Justice Department, and now serves as Chairman of Beveridge & Diamond in DC. He prioritizes mentoring young attorneys of color and promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. In his work with the Committee and in his support of other civic, community, and bar organizations, Ben dedicates himself to the causes of equal opportunity and civil rights. He has won many awards for his achievements, including the Committee’s Wiley A. Branton award in 2009, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Legacy Award, and the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity’s Spirit Of Excellence award.

Ben is also a leader of pro bono at Beveridge & Diamond. One case that he led with the Committee was Equal Rights Center v. City of Manassas. In Manassas, the team successfully challenged a systemic policy by the City of Manassas, Virginia, and the Manassas City Public Schools (MCPS), that targeted, discriminated against, and evicted the City’s Latino residents. The City was selectively enforcing zoning and related laws and MCPS was secretly disclosing confidential student records to the City to target Latino families. As part of the settlement, defendants agreed to enact expansive new protections for residents, discontinue its anonymous complaint hotline, hire an advocate to implement the new safeguards, and pay $775,000 to resolve the claims.

Asked why he chooses to support the Committee, Ben says “Lawyers have at least two ways to give back with the goal of correcting inequities and improving society: deploying their intellect and belief in systems of justice through volunteer time to work on and lead Committee efforts, and contributing a share of the financial success they derive from their practice to the Committee so it can sustain its operations. I challenge my colleagues to give as much as they can from each of these reservoirs.”

“Ben Wilson represents the best of the profession. He has fought for justice and set an example for new lawyers about what it means to give back. We are immensely grateful for his leadership, his commitment, his kindness and his generosity,” said Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee.

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