SSW Law Group, the influential and impactful Black and women-owned law firm in Newark, is going national.
The firm, which has extensive expertise in real estate/economic development, education, litigation and government affairs announced last week that it intends to open offices in New York and Pennsylvania.
The firm, founded in 2015 by Calvin Souder, Khalifah Shabazz and Kyana Woolridge, is tied to a number of big projects in Newark (most notably transformations of the Iberia Peninsula restaurant and the IDT building) as well as projects around the region and country.
SSW Law is the largest all-Black and woman-owned firm in the state. Souder, the managing member, said it’s time to broaden the firm’s reach.
“SSW believes the legal representation of urban communities across the nation should directly reflect their identity and values,” he said. “With this expansion, we are building an institution that is uniquely positioned to serve the all-encompassing needs of our neighbors in cities nationwide.”
“The establishment of SSW has always been about more than just practicing law; it’s been about creating a legacy of inclusion and excellence in the legal field,” she said. “We are excited to embark on this new chapter and reinforce our commitment to making a difference through dedicated and culturally competent legal representation.”
Shabazz noted the increase sized will lead to increased impact and influence.
“With our geographical growth we are strengthening our ability to advocate for educational and economic empowerment on a broader scale,” she said.
The founders felt the formation of SSW provided the required profound talent to address the challenging needs of urban New Jersey. With this expansion, SSW Law Group will now have offices in Newark, Manhattan, and Philadelphia to better address the needs of SSW clients across the nation, they said.
As a national firm, SSW will deepen its focus across areas they have successfully represented:
● Real estate: Souder has successfully represented large-scale mixed-use, municipal, commercial, and industrial developments including advising HBCU Presidents on expanding the use of public-private partnerships;
● Government affairs: Member James Gee and Member Jay Redd represent the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association as well as numerous pharmaceutical and biotech companies throughout the country;
● Education/nonprofit: Shabazz provides counsel to the majority of urban school districts in New Jersey including the Patterson Board of Education and the development of Hinchliffe Stadium;
● Litigation: Member Philip Hamilton and Member Lance Clarke have successfully negotiated a settlement on behalf of the Estate of Eric Garner;
● Health/cannabis: Member Jorge Vasquez secured preferential rights for formerly incarcerated individuals to open cannabis dispensaries.
The American Bar Association has found that of the 40,800 attorneys in the state of New Jersey, only 4.5% or 1,836 are Black. Of that number, over 25% are solo practitioners with an average of less than one Black attorney at each of the 10,482 law firms in the state.
James Lewis, president of the Garden State Bar Association, said the growth of SSW is meaningful in a number of ways.
“SSW attorneys exemplify that there is no limit to the heights that can be reached when talent meets opportunities,” he said. “For so many of us, seeing is believing and SSW opens its doors to Garden State Bar Association members, including future attorneys from diverse backgrounds, to see that there’s room for them at the highest levels of the profession.”