Cadwalader launches VS.: Confronting Modern Slavery in America

January 28, 2013

Pro Bono project dedicated to raising awareness and fostering collaboration to combat domestic human trafficking

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP (Cadwalader), a leading counselor to global financial institutions and corporations, announced today VS.: Confronting Human Trafficking in America, a pro bono initiative to combat America’s national crisis in human trafficking. At its core is a public website — — directed by Cadwalader partner Debra Brown Steinberg and published under the umbrella of Cadwalader’s Women’s Leadership Initiative. The VS. website, supported by a companion conference series addressing emerging issues relating to domestic human trafficking, is a platform for raising public awareness of modern slavery in this country, and it is a forum for the public, nonprofit, and private sectors to connect, innovate, and collaborate on solutions.

“Human trafficking called by its true name, is modern day slavery. It is, in the President's words 'barbaric, and... evil, and it has no place in the civilized world,'" stated Steinberg. “We created the VS. project to focus much-needed attention and resources on confronting labor, debt, and sex trafficking in America; to help resource-constrained frontline organizations get their messages out to a broad audience; and to break down organizational silos that impede holistic approaches to shared objectives.”

Steinberg has balanced her career representing clients in complex commercial, securities, and intellectual property litigations with her equally high-profile representations of the “invisible” undocumented families of 9/11 victims. Her creation of an innovative holistic model for delivering pro bono services to these most vulnerable of all 9/11 families has been recognized in the many awards and commendations she has received, including the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor, American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, New York State Bar Association's President's Pro Bono Service Award, New York City's Award for Achievement in Community Leadership, and the 9/11 Tribute Center Award. Debra’s innovative model for serving the total needs of a victim population inspired the VS. project, which looks at the whole picture of domestic human trafficking and aligns public, nonprofit, and private sector resources to effectively attack it.

VS. formally launches today at an event at Cadwalader’s headquarters at One World Financial Center in New York. The keynote address will be delivered by Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large, United States Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. President Obama appointed Ambassador CdeBaca to coordinate U.S. government activities in the global fight against all contemporary forms of slavery.

W. Christopher White, Chairman of Cadwalader, stated: “VS. is a major sustained Cadwalader commitment. It is a commitment that we are proud and excited to undertake. Pro bono teams of Cadwalader lawyers—under the auspices of the Firm's Women's leadership Initiative—have contributed already, and will continue to contribute, to this critically needed program to end modern slavery in America. Cadwalader's commitment to innovative pro bono initiatives, such as VS., is in the very finest tradition of our firm and of our profession."

You are invited to view Ambassador CdeBaca’s address on the new website: