Becker & Poliakoff

“Civil Rights Leader and Defender Speaks at Miami Law” – University of Miami

“Civil Rights Leader and Defender Speaks at Miami Law” – University of Miami

Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, will be the featured Spring speaker for The Alan S. Becker and Gary A. Poliakoff Preeminent Leaders in Law Speaker Series April 28, 2022.

Clarke leads the DOJ’s broad federal civil rights enforcement efforts and works to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all who live in America. Clarke is a lifelong civil rights lawyer who has spent her entire career in public service.

Becker & Poliakoff established the series in 2021, to honor the legacy of the founding shareholders by bringing renowned national and international legal experts to Miami Law every semester.

“We are thrilled to have Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke as our next featured guest in this series,” said Gary Rosen, managing partner of Becker & Poliakoff. “I believe both Alan and Gary would be proud of their namesake firm and alma mater for connecting influential leaders like Clarke, a champion of civil rights, with the next generation of lawyers.”

Becker, J.D. ’69, and Poliakoff, J.D. ’69, were two distinguished alumni of Miami Law and prominent leaders in the legal community. They met when they were paired for a mock trial competition while attending law school, which led to a partnership and ultimately the formation of the firm. Most notably, Becker and Poliakoff helped conceive, draft, and pass the laws governing shared ownership housing in Florida. The firm, which has since evolved into a multidisciplinary practice, is now one of Florida’s largest with 11 offices in Florida, plus additional locations in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.

Long history of voting and civil rights advocacy

Clarke began her career as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division through the Department of Justice’s Honors Program, according to the DOJ. In 2006, she joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she helped lead the organization’s work in the areas of voting rights and election law across the country. Clarke worked on cases defending the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, presented oral argument to the D.C. District Court in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, and has provided testimony on federal and state voting rights legislation.

In 2011, she was named the head of the Civil Rights Bureau for the New York State Attorney General’s Office, where she led broad civil rights enforcement actions. Under her leadership, the Bureau secured landmark agreements with banks to address unlawful redlining, employers to address barriers to reentry for people with criminal backgrounds, police departments on reforms to policies and practices, major retailers on racial profiling of consumers, landlords on discriminatory housing policies, school districts concerning issues relating to the school-to-prison pipeline and more. In 2015, Clarke was named the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations founded at the request of John F. Kennedy. There, she led the organization’s legal work in courts across the country addressing some of the nation’s most complex racial justice and civil rights challenges.

The Thursday, April 28, 2022, event is free and open to the public with advanced registration. The 6:00 p.m. in-person lecture will be preceded by a reception from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Storer Auditorium, 5250 University Drive, Coral Gables, Florida. If you’re unable to join us in-person, you can still attend virtually.

Masks are no longer required in indoor spaces on the Coral Gables campus. Individuals who wish to wear a mask for their protection are encouraged to do so. For the latest COVID-19 guidance at the University of Miami, visit