Biglaw, Job Searches, Law Schools, Racism

Minorities Give Props to Are Props at Greenberg Traurig?

Greenberg logo.gifWe were forwarded the following e-mail by a source. It concerns an interaction at a recruiting reception hosted by Greenberg Traurig for Columbia Law School students. One minority female student was so upset by the interaction that she wrote the firm the following day to complain about it and to inform them that she would not be interviewing at Greenberg.
What happened to this Columbia student? Read all about it, after the jump.
Note: Because the student appears to have forwarded her e-mail in such a way that it ended up on a University of Michigan listserv, we think we’re justified in including her name. We have, however, altered all e-mail addresses so they won’t be attacked by spam.

Here’s the e-mail chain:

Date: July 2, 2007 7:39:44 PM GMT-04:00
To: “[Lyris Discussion List]”
Subject: [*****] Fwd: Minorities at Greenberg Traurig – one student’s account

An unfortunate experience that reminds us of how the legal profession has a long way to go to make minority students feel truly wanted at big law firms. Ironically, Greenberg Traurig was honored several years ago by the Minority Law Journal as No.1 for employing the highest number of Hispanic lawyers nationally. In 2001 more than 8 percent of Greenberg Traurig’s lawyers were Hispanic. Three percent are African-American and 1 percent Asian-American. Still not enough in my opinion.


—– Forwarded message Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2007 17:03:33 -0400
Dear BLSA Family,

Though the experience of one person is not indicative of a firm’s culture, here is an account from a Latina Columbia Law student who attended a recent Greenberg Tauring reception. While I have not confirmed whether this happened independently, I wanted you all to be aware of her story to the extent that it might impact your bidding decisions.

All best,

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jessica < ******
Date: Jul 2, 2007 9:56 AM
Subject: Fwd: Hey guys this is important, read pleeease

Hey ya’ll

Just passing along the information, because we need to look out for each other. =)


And here are the original messages:

Hey Everyone!
I hope you are all having great summers. If you’re not too busy please write back and tell me what you’re up to–I’d love to hear from you.
I just wanted to share this story with everyone, before the craziness of bidding begins in a few weeks. I want to end up at a firm that is open to students from diverse backgrounds, and demonstrates an atmosphere of acceptance across the board. I am sure most, if not all of you are looking for the same thing.
That being said, I had an awful experience at the Greenberg Traurig reception the other night. Below this email is the email I wrote to their director of recruitment the next morning.
Please feel free to pass it along…
—– Forwarded message from ******
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 13:04:53 -0400
From: ******
Reply-To: ******
Subject: GT Reception
To: ******
Dear Ms. Schaut,
Thank you for inviting me to the reception yesterday evening. While I met a few interesting and friendly attorneys, I left with a stark feeling that Greenberg Traurig was not the place for me.
As the night was winding down, I found myself talking to two other rising 2Ls, both of whom attend Cornell Law School. While we were sharing stories about our summer experiences, we were abruptly interrupted by a senior GT attorney. He shook our hands and asked for our names, but never shared his. He asked Josh, one of the Cornell students, and I what we were doing in DC for the summer, then completely turned his back to us before we could even finish answering. It was clear from his demeanor and wandering eyes that he was not at all interested in our responses. As if his body language hadn’t broadcasted his disinterest, when he turned back around to rejoin the conversation, he asked Josh AGAIN what he was doing in DC this summer, clearly forgetting he had just asked him seconds earlier.
The three of us were feeling very uncomfortable with the strange interaction, but it wasn’t until the attorney found who he was looking for when we realized what was really going on. He called the photographer over and said, “Hey, come take a picture of us!” A picture of a GT attorney with his arm around three law students – two African-Americans and one Latino – would look great on the cover of the firm’s diversity recruitment pamphlet. “Smile,” he said, and those words are still echoing in my ear. Then he left, just as promptly as he arrived.
It was obvious that he had absolutely no interest in getting to know us, or even in helping us get to know GT. From the moment he approached us, he was looking for that photographer. He didn’t see three interesting, friendly, and smart law students who were actually interested in working for GT; he saw a photo op. Needless to say, it was extremely insulting.
The irony is, one of the reasons I was drawn to GT was its renowned “commitment to diversity.” That being said, to me diversity is so much more than just “people of color.” I want to be at a firm that appreciates diversity for the creation and growth of different perspectives and new ideas that would surely be stunted in a homogeneous workplace, not a firm that appreciates diversity because their clients want it, or because someone somewhere said you SHOULD want it, and certainly not because it makes a more colorful website.
I have already shared this story with my friends and colleagues at Columbia and other law schools, and they are all equally as shocked and disappointed. Again, I appreciate the invitation to come and get an introduction to your firm, but I am afraid I will not be bidding for a GT interview this fall.
Columbia Law School
Class of 2009

Was this merely a case of the all-too-common awkward/clueless partner, or something more sinister? You make the call. For what it’s worth, our tipster comments:

fyi. If I dared to apply the term ‘diva’ to a Latina woman, this would be the time. I don’t really care; she sounds a little annoying and a lot naive. And all the Columbia kids I know are a**holes. But I’d really love to know how GT responds.

Update: We received an e-mail from the Columbia student asking us to remove her name from the original post. As a courtesy, we have replaced her name with initials in the e-mails above.

(hidden for your protection)

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