March 3, 2014

Shearman & Sterling Partners with Viacom to Support The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund’s “Name Change Project”

TLDEF Praises Pro Bono Efforts to Help Transgender People Secure Legal Name Changes

New York, NY - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), a national non-profit organization dedicated to ending anti-transgender discrimination, today announced that leading entertainment company Viacom Inc. and the law firm Shearman & Sterling are teaming up to support TLDEF’s “Name Change Project.”

The “Name Change Project” provides legal assistance for transgender people who are seeking to change their legal names to match their true identities. “It is often difficult and intimidating for transgender people to navigate the legal system for a name change,” said TLDEF Executive Director, Michael Silverman. “With pro bono support from attorneys at Viacom Inc. and Shearman & Sterling LLP, an international law firm that has assisted TLDEF for many years, we will be able to help more transgender people through the name change process.”

Viacom earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2014 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) and in 2013 was named to Bloomberg’s Civic 50 list of the most community-minded companies in the U.S. for the second year in a row. By joining TLDEF’s “Name Change Project,” the company is offering a vital resource to those who are trying to bring their legal documents in line with who they are.

“Viacom is deeply committed to mobilizing on social justice efforts, in particular diversity and inclusion for our employees and audiences worldwide,” said Viacom Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary Michael Fricklas. “We are proud to leverage our dedication to pro bono legal service to support TLDEF’s efforts to achieve greater equality and acceptance for others through its ‘Name Change Project.’ ”

“Having worked on TLDEF’s ‘Name Change Project’ for several years, we know first-hand how this program changes lives for the better,” said Creighton Condon, Senior Partner at Shearman & Sterling LLP, which also received a 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2014 CEI. Added Heather Kafele, chair of Shearman & Sterling’s Pro Bono Committee, “Adding Viacom’s strong voice to this team will only bolster our efforts.”

To date, New York-based TLDEF has helped over 1,300 people with name changes in New York City through collaboration with dozens of law firms and corporate legal departments. The organization has also begun providing name change services in Pittsburgh, PA, and in other parts of New York State, including Albany and Rochester.

“For many transgender people, matching their legal names with who they are makes it far easier for them to live their lives free of discrimination in employment, housing, health care, and public accommodations,” Silverman added. “We’re tremendously grateful to Viacom and Shearman & Sterling for helping us bring this resource to more people in the transgender community.”