Attorneys and law students across the country have been on the receiving end of emails from a rabid activist named Leslie Brodie this month. Brodie is waging a crusade to “end racism/sexism in U.S. law firms” by starting a petition.
In a mass email about the petition, she directed her attack specifically at one firm, the small San Francisco-based Kerr & Wagstaffe. Brodie mentions founding partner James Wagstaffe, who is also an adjunct professor at UC Hastings Law, and points out “that out of 10 lawyers, all but one are white; out of seven partners, all but one are males; and all the associates are young and attractive white females.”
Virginia attorney Ken Lammers of Crim Law Blog was one of the many to receive the email. He checked out Kerr & Wagstaffe’s website and offered a measured and convincing defense of the firm, in part arguing that the female attorneys aren’t actually that hot. He also discovered the reason for Brodie’s attack on Wagstaffe:
As I write this, the petition has 13 whole “signatures”, 4 of which call out the author and 1 of which is the author threatening a disagreeing signatory with sanction by the law school. It’s the exchange between these two which clarified what’s actually going on here. I had thought that this was a non-hire who was striking back at the firm, but apparently it’s even more petty than that. This is about a bad grade which the author got from James Wagstaffe in a CivPro class. A BAD GRADE. A law firm, which by all appearances is filled with bright, capable people, is dragged through the mud over a grade. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!
A Berkeley law student responded to the mass email by requesting removal from the mailing list, citing the CAN-SPAM Act — a perfectly reasonable request. But when you’re dealing with unhinged, anti-racist spammers, reason doesn’t often serve you well…
In response to the unsolicited petition spam, the Berkeley 3L wrote:
Please discontinue sending your emails to [REDACTED]@law.berkeley.edu and unsubscribe this email address from all further emails.
If you continue to send unsolicited emails to this account, I will report your email address and information to the FTC, in violation of the CAN SPAM Act of 2003.
Brodie then filed a complaint against the student with the state bar for “lack of good moral character.” Then she sent the complaint along to Boalt Dean Christopher Edley, writing:
By threatening to complain to the FTC, if I continue to send unsolicited emails, Ms. PERFECTLY-REASONABLE-BOALTIE breached Rule 5-100 of the California Rules of Professional Responsibility. As Ms. PERFECTLY-REASONABLE-BOALTIE is a 2010 Candidate, it is safe to assume that she already took a PR/Ethics Class, and is aware of this concept. Yet, she chose to knowingly disregard the rule in order to intimidate, harass and gain an advantage over me in a dispute concerning the legality of the unsolicited emails.
Also, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (the “ACT”) applies only to emails which are commercial in nature. It is obvious that the email which was sent was not intended to sell any goods or services, but rather was political in nature. As such, Ms. PERFECTLY-REASONABLE-BOALTIE also misrepresented the content of the ACT in order to trick and deceive me as to the state of the law in order for the unsolicited email to stop . This attempt to mislead and trick an opponent as to the content of the law is a very serious misconduct which also reflects negatively on her moral character.
Please instruct your students/faculty/staff at Boalt Hall to refrain from making any more threats concerning unsolicited emails which they receive via the U.C. email system. That system does not belong to them, but to the People of the State of California.
Just for kicks, the anti-racist Brodie then threw in some racist remarks:
It is also regretful and disappointing that Ms. PERFECTLY-REASONABLE-BOALTIE did not support the petition, or at least express sympathy. After all, a presumed jewess female from the former U.S.S.R. is also a rare commodity at those firms.
Then Brodie spammed even more people than the first time around. She forwarded the email to Dean Edley to a even wider-reaching spam list, including us as well as the guys at Berkeley law blog Nuts & Boalts.
The identity of Leslie Brodie is a bit of a mystery. She’s not a part of the California State Bar, and googling her name doesn’t turn up any current or former Hastings law students. We reached out to her via email but she did not respond to us.
Nuts & Boalts nominated Brodie for the “2010 Douchey Dick Award.” We’ll second that nomination.
Kerr & Wagstaffe: Besmirched and Beslurred? [CrimLaw]
Kerr & Wagstaffe, Part Deux [CrimLaw]
Kerr & Wagstaffe: The Final Word [CrimLaw]
The 2010 Douchey Dick Award [Nuts & Boalts]