Affirmative Action

Right now is a great time to be a Supreme Court aficionado. There’s a big new book out about the Court, Jeffrey Toobin’s The Oath (affiliate link). And the new SCOTUS Term starts in just a few days, on Monday, October 1.

Given the time of the year, it’s not surprising that SCOTUS preview events are as common as Ninth Circuit reversals pro se cert petitions. I attended one sponsored by the Federalist Society earlier this month, where Kannon Shanmugam of Williams & Connolly offered excellent insights into October Term 2012. Our Supreme Court correspondent here at Above the Law, Matt Kaiser, went to a preview talk sponsored by the American Constitution Society (which he turned into Kaiser’s Guide To Bluffing Your Way Through Knowledge About The Supreme Court’s New Term).

That sounds like more than enough SCOTUS previews. But I couldn’t help myself from attending one more, due to the starpower of the panelists: Paul Clement, the former solicitor general who’s now a partner at Bancroft, and Tom Goldstein, the noted Supreme Court advocate and founder of the invaluable SCOTUSblog.

What did Messrs. Clement and Goldstein have to say about OT 2012?

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October first is the start of the new Supreme Court term!

If, like many readers, you’re a few years out of law school, this may strike you with a mild sense of dread. You remember the heady days of law school when you followed every argument, opinion, and cert grant from One First Street Northeast with an excitement rivaled only by your enthusiasm for the starting salaries for first-year associates.

Alas, the years since law school haven’t been kind to your pants size or your level of engagement with the Supreme Court.

Now, I suspect, you worry that soon — at a family dinner, dropping off your kids at preschool, or anywhere else you interact with non-lawyers — someone will recognize that you are a lawyer, and ask you what to make of the new Supreme Court term.

You have three options for how to deal with this, now, before the media frenzy over the new Supreme Court term starts.

First, you can admit to yourself that you’re no longer the gunner you used to be. You can tell people that just don’t follow the Supreme Court anymore, since you’ve gotten really interested in your exciting new life doing document review for a municipal bond arbitration.

But you’re not going to do that. If you were that good at being honest with yourself, you aren’t likely to be the kind of person who went to law school in the first place.

Second, perhaps, you can wade through the volume of information out there about the new term. Go through SCOTUSblog with the same passion you now spend tracking whether your friends from law school have better careers than you do. Maybe go to one of the OT 2012 preview events that clog every convention hall and small town library starting in mid-September.

That takes time and energy. Tom Goldstein sometimes uses really long paragraphs, and you really wanted to spend more time Googling for topless pictures of Kate Middleton.

Instead, you could let me to one of those events for you. For the truly efficient, follow the jump, sit back, and enjoy Kaiser’s Guide To Bluffing Your Way Through Knowledge About the Supreme Court’s New Term to Non-Lawyers….

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“In accepting the offer to join Ropes & Gray, Ray accepted Roscoe Trimmier’s assurances that Ropes ‘does not see black and white, only shades of Ropes & Gray.’”

That’s paragraph 75 from the latest complaint filed by John H. Ray III, a 2000 graduate of Harvard Law School and an African-American man, against his former employer, Ropes & Gray. According to Ray, the firm, after initially embracing him with open arms, turned on him. Ray claims that he was subjected to racial discrimination and retaliation, which made his time at the firm more painful than pleasurable. And, unlike Anastasia Steele of Fifty Shades of Grey (affiliate link), Ray did not enjoy the alleged abuse.

When we first wrote about Ray, he was proceeding pro se against Ropes & Gray. Now he has hired counsel — an experienced employment-discrimination litigator who has appeared before in these pages.

Let’s find out who’s representing John Ray, and take a closer look at the complaint — which features an Above the Law shout-out, interestingly enough….

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The Snooki Defense

* Aw, come on, Mort, Dewey really have to pay you $61M? In case you missed it last night, the only thing that made the former vice chairman’s departure memo dramatic was the insane amount that he claims he’s owed. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Congratulations to Jacqueline H. Nguyen on her confirmation to the Ninth Circuit. She’s the first Asian American woman to sit on a federal appellate court, so she’s earned our judicial diva title (in a good way). You go girl! [Los Angeles Times]

* Google might’ve infringed upon Oracle’s copyrights, but a jury couldn’t decide if it constituted fair use. Sorry, Judge Alsup, but with that kind of a decision, you can bet your ass that there’ll be an appeal. [New York Times]

* A Harvard Law professor has come to Elizabeth Warren’s defense, claiming that an alleged affirmative action advantage played no role in her hiring. And besides, even if it did, it only played 1/32 of a role. [Boston Herald]

* Classes at Cooley Law’s Tampa Bay campus began last night. Unsurprisingly, the inaugural class is double the size originally projected, because everyone wants to attend the second-best school in the nation. [MLive]

* Albany Law will be having a three-day conference on the legal implications of the Civil War. This could be a little more exciting if presenters wore reenactment garb and did battle when it was over. [National Law Journal]

* Jury selection is underway in a second degree murder trial that will forever be known as the case where a defendant first raised the “Snooki Defense.” He didn’t kill his wife… but her spray tan did. [CBS Miami]

* There is a difference between being “insensitive” and being wrong. It’s more important and less obvious than you might think. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Is it harder to go to college in America today if you are a minority — or if you are poor? [Forbes]

* I live in Oakland, so I’m more surprised when a day goes by that I don’t see someone with marijuana sticking out of their pants. [Legal Juice]

* The finalists in the ABA Battle of the Bands sound pretty darn good. My vote will probably to go to Jenner & Block partner Joe Bisceglia rocking out to some old Chicago blues. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Uggs just won a $686 million judgment against counterfeiters. But for some reason, after years of asking every woman I know, no one has been able to explain to me why people insist on wearing them when it is more than 25 degrees outside. I just don’t understand the appeal. [Fashionista]

* It seems like NYU Law really doesn’t want to give up all of its employment data. Reminds me of playing “keep away” when I was seven, and specifically how the game always ended in shouting matches and damaged egos. [Law School Transparency]

* In other ping pong related news… [DealBreaker]

The Dewey debacle is unfolding in real time on this and other sites. People’s lives are being shattered as a firm gets shuttered. It is not the first, and certainly not the last, time that a major law firm with thousands of employees will disappear into so much ether. I look back on my OCI days, and can rattle off several former NYC firms that have either merged into unrecognizability, or disappeared like Dewey is in the process of doing.

Likewise, not far from where I now sit, is the shell of Eastman Kodak — a company that built a large part of this town, and will likely become a shameful case study in the annals of business school textbooks. And yesterday, news went out that my own company is beginning another round of VRIF severance offers.

Regardless of whether you are sitting comfortably in-house, collecting pay from Biglaw, or wondering how in Hell you’re going to find a summer job, news like that mentioned above is disquieting. The main reason is that there isn’t anything that can be done. One day you’re employed, and then, well, you may not be. And there is really no place for schadenfreude in a “there but for the grace of God” economy. Careers can be dissolved as quickly as Dewey.

So, when you are forced to enter an applicant pool of thousands of other attorneys looking for a break in a seemingly unsolvable code of hiring, what can you do to set yourself apart? One possible strategy that has become a hot button issue in the past days is to claim minority status on your application. The obvious dilemma that you face as applicant number two thousand twenty-eight is whether to check such status if your lineage may or may not support the claim….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “House Rules: Claiming Minority Status for a Leg Up”

Last Wednesday, we reported on Baylor Law School’s inadvertent release of personal academic information for its entire admitted class — names, addresses, GPAs, LSAT scores, and scholarship offers. Last Friday, my colleague Elie Mystal used this data to argue in defense of affirmative action.

We believe in offering a wide range of perspectives here at Above the Law. That’s one thing that’s nice about having four full-time writer/editors — myself, Elie, Staci Zaretsky, Chris Danzig — and about a dozen outside columnists.

Today we bring you a different viewpoint on the Baylor law admissions data. Prominent lawyer and blogger Ted Frank, previously profiled in these pages for his work in the class-action area, uses the same data to argue against affirmative action.

Let’s hear what he has to say, shall we?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Another Perspective on the Baylor Law Admissions Data and Affirmative Action”

On Wednesday, we reported on Baylor Law School accidentally releasing personal academic information for its entire admitted class. It was a massive screw-up, and on Wednesday, we showed you the GPA and LSAT scores for Baylor’s admitted students (with the students’ names redacted, of course).

But there were other fields available in the accidentally released spreadsheet, including racial categorizations for each student and scholarship information. I didn’t include the race field earlier this week because, frankly, I didn’t want the entire news story (of the screw-up) to be overrun by a discussion about race and affirmative action.

But, look, I ain’t afraid of you people. Getting a complete racial breakdown of the class to go along with their grades and LSAT scores is a look inside the law school admissions process that we don’t often get to see.

So, let’s play our game. Looking at the Baylor numbers, you can see the affirmative action “bump” in LSAT scores, and to my eyes, it really shows how foolish the opponents of affirmative action really are….

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There are data breaches, and then there are data dummies. The people at Baylor Law seem to be in the latter category.

Nobody was trying to steal the personal information of the admitted students at Baylor Law. But a screw-up by someone at the school resulted in all of the personal information of the admitted class getting transmitted to everybody else in the admitted class.

All of it. Names, addresses, grades, and LSAT scores. Pretty much everything besides social security numbers.

And, we have it….

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I called it, but it wasn’t a hard call to make.

Last year, the Fifth Circuit upheld the University of Texas’s affirmative action plan in Fisher v. University of Texas. But they did so in a petulant, childish manner, as if somebody was forcing them to eat their vegetables. At the time, I said they were openly begging for a right-wing Supreme Court to review and overturn their ruling.

It looks like the members of the Fifth Circuit are going to get their wish. The Supreme Court granted cert on Fisher, and now we get to have an affirmative action debate right in the middle of an election cycle where a black man is running for reelection.

I’m sure that last part is just coincidence though….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “SCOTUS Grants Cert in Affirmative Action Case: ‘Cause It’s an Election Year and They Like Power’”

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