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This essay prompts the reader to engage in a thought experiment and consider their own limits in advancing the cause of; a legal system free from racism and bias, and lawyers are encouraged to use the experience of a young Louis Brandeis as a guide in this self-reflection. Specifically, this essay calls attention to the fact that Louis Brandeis started his legal career, at the same time when, and in the same place where thousands of African Americans were escaping persecution and traveling in search of economic and political freedom, yet he was publicly absent on issues of race. As today’s conversations on racial injustice and biases dominate our national debate, biographers of Brandies are increasingly contextualizing his absent advocacy for people of color. As the 150th anniversary of Brandies’ legal graduation and swearing in as a lawyer approaches, we can best honor his contribution by completing his legacy of service and continuing his fight for social justice. But unlike Brandies, today’s advocate can advance the cause of eliminating injustice that occurs in inconvenient places, involving difficult subjects (like race) by interacting with individuals who may not be receptive to discussing issues of bias and prejudice. The best example of this type of service is the legal advocacy of people of color, who have been marginalized by issues of poverty and class in all regions of our nation, especially in rural communities. If this effort is made by a legion of new lawyers, can the impact of racism and bias in the law be largely eliminated by 2027 (the anniversary of Brandeis’ graduation)?

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Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal