Who knew that such a little man could generate such big controversy?
In a nutshell (see the links collected below for more):
Erwin Chemerinsky, the brilliant but controversial professor of constitutional law at Duke, accepted an offer to serve as inaugural dean of UC Irvine’s new law school. But then Professor Chemerinsky’s deanship was yanked as quickly as it was offered, based on the administration’s discomfort with Chemerinsky’s political views.
One tipster reminds us: “For those who took BarBri, Chemerinsky is the Con Law professor who can recite the entire lecture (2 days if I recall) from memory, without consulting his notes.”
Does anyone have a copy of, or know the contents of, Chemerinsky’s employment contract with U.C. Irvine? If so, please contact us by email. Thanks.
Also, you can take our reader poll about the controversy, which appears after the jump.
New UC Irvine Law School Hires Chemerinsky as Dean, Then Fires Him for Political Reasons
[Brian Leiter's Law School Reports]
The O.C. — Law School Edition [WSJ Law Blog]
Could This Be True??? [PrawfsBlawg]
Chemerinsky says UC Irvine rescinds offer to become law school dean [Los Angeles Times]
Duke Law School
Who knew that such a little man could generate such big controversy?
- Brooklyn Law School, Duke Law School, Law Professors, Lesbians, Weddings, White People, Yale Law School
Even in these dark days, as an anxious nation awaits the latest dispatch from the associate salary wars, the wedding machine grinds on. We salute the brave couples who choose to go ahead with their ceremonies in the face of all this uncertainty — after all, how crushing would it be to return from your honeymoon and find your employer on someone’s List of Shame!
Honorable mention this week goes to this couple. (The father of the bride, William Barr, was once Attorney General under George H.W. Bush.) Unfortunately, those two did not make the cut. Here are the lucky lovebirds who did:
More on this week’s couples, after the jump.
- Biglaw, Duke Law School, Fulbright & Jaworski, Job Searches, Law School Deans, Law Schools, Racism, Screw-Ups
The mini-scandal that erupted after it was reported that Fulbright & Jaworski partner uttered “the n word” during a recruiting event at Duke Law School has pretty much blown over.
Much wind was taken out of the racist sails when it came to light that the partner said the magic word while “recount[ing] a story about Leon Jaworski’s defense of an African-American man in a murder trial in Waco, Texas in the 1920s.” The partner uttered the racial epithet “in an effort to display the depth of racial hostility that Jaworski and his client faced.”
In case you’re still interested in this story — and we understand completely if you’re not — an account of yesterday’s meeting, between Fulbright & Jaworski lawyers and law students at Duke, appears after jump.
- Bad Ideas, Biglaw, Duke Law School, Fulbright & Jaworski, Job Searches, Law Schools, Politics, Racism
[U]nless the story was about, say, the partner’s pro bono representation, in a civil action for damages, of a hate crime or police brutality victim who was attacked and called “the n word,” it was hugely inappropriate….
We’re glad we left ourselves that escape hatch. We now have more context about the incident, thanks to an email from the Fulbright & Jaworski executive committee:
Because you may hear about or be asked about a recent situation at a law school where attorneys participated in training interviews of students, we want to bring it to your attention. One of our lawyers recounted a story about Leon Jaworski’s defense of an African-American man in a murder trial in Waco, Texas in the 1920s. During the retelling, in an effort to display the depth of racial hostility that Jaworski and his client faced, the attorney used a racial term that characterized what the district attorney in the case said about the defendant. After review of the situation, all involved concluded that such terms, although recounted without ill intentions, are inappropriate for our firm, which values diversity and strives for inclusiveness.
We are addressing the situation, and Steve Pfeiffer and other senior partners are en route to meet with the students. One of the other attorneys who participated in the training session acted immediately when the incident was called to his attention and responded with an electronic letter of explanation and appropriate apology. Any inquiries should be directed to the firm’s Hiring Partner, Gerry Lowry.
Here’s some further evidence suggesting that the Duke law school community may be overreacting. Per a current law student at Duke:
This partner was relating what another person said in the context of telling a story. Now everyone is piling on him. The student [who voiced the complaint] has been goaded on by some super liberal professors.
Interesting. As we’ve previously stated, we welcome any and all information about this incident. Thanks.
Earlier: Breaking: Fulbright & Jaworski Partner Drops the N-Bomb During A Recruiting Interview!
Stepping in Deep Duke-y: More Details, Please
This morning we wrote about the recent scandal at Duke Law School, in which a Fulbright & Jaworski partner uttered “the n word” during the course of a recruiting event. We published an email from Dean Katharine T. Bartlett to the student body about the incident.
Unfortunately, there’s still so much that we don’t know. To those of you with knowledge of the underlying events, here are a few things we’re curious about:
1. What type of event was this — a meeting, a one-on-one interview, etc.? Was the complaining student the only one who heard “the n word”?
2. In what context was “the n word” uttered? In other words, what exactly was the “story” that the partner was telling to the student(s)?
3. Who was the Fulbright & Jaworski partner who said this racial slur?
These are just a few representative questions. We’d love to get ANY additional information about the incident, no matter how trivial. Thanks in advance for your tips.
Update: We now have more details and context about the incident — and it’s not as bad as it initially sounded. See here.
Earlier: Breaking: Fulbright & Jaworski Partner Drops the N-Bomb During A Recruiting Interview!
The email reprinted below, from Dean Katharine T. Bartlett, just went out to everyone at Duke Law School. It was forwarded to us by a source at the school.
Yes, we know: the partner who pulled a Michael Richards used “the n word” in the context of telling a story, in which the racial epithet was uttered by a character in the story. He didn’t use “the n word” to refer to any student or interviewee.
We don’t know the nature of the story being told by the partner. But unless the story was about, say, the partner’s pro bono representation, in a civil action for damages, of a hate crime or police brutality victim who was attacked and called “the n word,” it was hugely inappropriate for the partner to use a racial slur in this context (or, for that matter, any other context).
>>> Kate BARTLETT / 11:21 AM >>>
To The Duke Law School Community:
The purpose of this letter is to address a recent incident of concern arising out of a law firm recruitment visit to Duke. A Duke student reported that a partner from Fulbright & Jaworski who was meeting students on campus told a story in which “the n word” was attributed to one of the characters in the story. Understandably, the use of the word offended the student.
Upon learning about this episode, pursuant to the Law School’s Anti-discrimination Policy, http://www.law.duke.edu/career/pdf/discriminationcomplaintform.pdf, the Career Center staff immediately asked the student if they could approach the employer to investigate the incident. The student agreed, and Tia Barnes called the recruiting manager to say that this was a serious situation that needed to be promptly addressed.
The hiring partner called back within minutes, clearly upset at the behavior of his partner. Shortly thereafter he reported back that he raised the issue to the highest levels of the firm, that the firm was taking internal measures dealing with the individual involved, and that the offending lawyer will not be permitted to return to Duke to meet with students.
The offending lawyer admitted his use of the word in question and reportedly recognizes that it was wrong to do so. The firm also sent an official apology to the student through us, as the student wished to remain anonymous.
As part of its remediation efforts, a partner at the law firm has asked to come to Duke to meet with students to describe the incident, to apologize to the community publicly, and to explain the measures that the firm has taken. Bruce Elvin has arranged for this meeting to take place tomorrow, February 22, at 4:30, in Room 3041.
This situation is ongoing, but to help the community better understand what has occurred thus far in the face of stories circulating on the grapevine, we asked for the student’s permission to describe what happened and to write this letter, and the student agreed. As is understandably often the case, the student still wishes to remain anonymous, and we have done our best to respect that wish, particularly given the importance of ensuring that our follow-up to incidents of this sort encourages students in the future to come forward to report such incidents, and does not discourage them from doing so.
This incident creates an opportunity to restate that the law school does not tolerate offensive or discriminatory conduct behavior by employers, whether occurring during interviews, mock interviews or summer employment. Pursuant to our policy, complaints of such behavior are investigated and we evaluate the response by employers to determine if their remedial action in response to the behavior is adequate. If you experience such behavior, please let us know either in person or by using the complaint form referenced above.
I appreciate the strong feelings this incident has raised and seek to work with the community as an ongoing matter to facilitate communication about how to make our climate here free from discrimination in the career services context and in all other dimensions of our Law School.
Katharine T. Bartlett
Dean and A. Kenneth Pye Professor of Law Duke University School of Law
Update: We now have more details and context about the incident — and it’s not as bad as it initially sounded. Details here.
- Aaron Charney, Biglaw, Department of Justice, Duke Law School, Harvard Law School, Law Professors, Law Schools, New York Times, Rudeness, Shanetta Cutlar, Sullivan & Cromwell, Ty Clevenger
In light of our non-stop coverage of (1) Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell and (2) the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar, we found the timing of this New York Times article — “Help, I’m Surrounded By Jerks” — to be rather uncanny. Not surprisingly, it’s currently the “Most E-mailed Article” on the NYT website.
Law schools figure prominently in the growing field of “jerk research”:
Next month the Career and Professional Development Center at Duke Law School will for the first time offer a workshop called Dealing With Conflict and Difficult People. In September the negotiation program in Harvard Law School’s executive education series will present a seminar called Dealing With Difficult People and Difficult Situations.
Who says law schools don’t prepare their students for the “real world”?
Of course, most law schools don’t need to offer “workshops” for dealing with pricks. Students learn these lessons through practice — by dealing with professors.
Disclaimer: Please do not interpret this post as our taking sides in either Charney v. S&C or Shanettagate. Consider this provocative quote from the article (emphases added): “[S]ome scholars say, the problem is not the difficult people themselves. IT IS YOU.”
Furthermore, reasonable minds can differ over who is the “jerk” in a particular situation. The article mentions “[t]he explosive boss” as one example of a jerk, but it also cites “the Complainer, the Whiner and the Sniper” as jerkly archetypes. So the S&C partners might argue that Aaron Charney is a “jerk,” or Shanetta Cutlar might label Ty Clevenger as a “jerk.”
Help, I’m Surrounded by Jerks [New York Times]
- 1st Circuit, Biglaw, Blogging, Book Deals, Books, D.C. Circuit, David Levi, Dewey Ballantine, Dewy Orifice, Drugs, Duke Law School, Federal Judges, Harriet Miers, Jan Crawford Greenburg, John Beerbower, John Paul Stevens, Law Firm Mergers, Law Professors, Linda Greenhouse, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Parties, Pictures, Real Estate, Saira Rao, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Week in Review, White House Counsel, William Rehnquist
Last week was short, thanks to the New Year’s holiday; but it sure was busy. Here are some highlights from a very momentous week:
* No more jokes about Harriet Miers: the ill-fated ex-SCOTUS nominee has resigned as White House counsel. Speculation about her successor abounds.
* No more jokes about the Dewy Orifice: the ill-fated merger between Dewey Ballantine and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has been called off.
* Turns out that Chief Justice Rehnquist was a painkiller junkie. Once, while suffering withdrawal symptoms, he tried to bust out of a hospital in his PJs.
* Chief Judge David Levi, of the Eastern District of California, will be the new Dean of Duke Law School.
* All About Jan? Just as the aging Margo Channing’s reign over Broadway was threatened by the comely Eve Harrington, the aging Linda Greenhouse’s reign over One First Street is being threatened by the comely Jan Crawford Greenburg.
* Who knew? Law professors and legal bloggers sure know how to party! Photos of drunken legal academics available here and here.
* Cravath partner John Beerbower has enjoyed some amazing apartments over the years. Cravath partnership + Wealthy wife = $20 million, Park Avenue pad.
* Who’s your favorite First Circuit judge? Cast your vote here.
* If you’re a right-winger hoping that Justice Stevens will step down soon, don’t hold your breath.
* Today’s D.C. Circuit: Despite the occasional catfight, it’s not as bitchy as it used to be. Sigh.
* Oppressed law clerks, your Devil Wears Prada is on its way. Coming soon to a bookstore near you: Chambermaid, by former Third Circuit clerk Saira Rao.
- 9th Circuit, David Levi, Duke Law School, Federal Judges, Gender, Law School Deans, Law Schools, Orin Kerr, SCOTUS, SCOTUS Potential, Sex, Supreme Court, Supreme Court Clerks, Weirdness
Big news for both the federal bench and legal academia: Chief Judge David F. Levi, of the Eastern District of California, has been picked as the next dean of Duke Law School.
If approved by the trustees, Levi will replace Dean Katharine Bartlett on July 1. Here’s the official press release.*
Chief Judge David Levi is one of the most highly-regarded district judges in the entire federal judiciary — and this should come as no surprise, given his pedigree. The 55-year-old judge is a Harvard College and Stanford Law grad, former Ninth Circuit clerk, and member of the Elect (OT 1982/Powell).
Legal genius runs in the Levi family. David Levi is the son of the late Edward Levi, former Attorney General under President Ford (and recently in the news in the wake of President Ford’s passing; he recommended Justice Stevens for the SCOTUS). As the WSJ Law Blog points out, David Levi’s older brother is also a high-powered lawyer: John Levi, a partner at Sidley & Austin.
When we clerked on the Ninth Circuit, we worked on an appeal from a decision of then-Judge Levi (he became Chief Judge in 2003). It was
a bizarre an interesting case involving a transsexual ex-prison inmate, one Torey Tuesday South, who filed a civil action against California prison officials. She alleged that the officials improperly cut off her sex hormones (which she had been taking since she was a teenage boy). The officials asserted qualified immunity.
The record on appeal was
really weird highly unusual. It included quasi-soft-porn photographs of Torey Tuesday South in various unusual positions, designed to showcase certain parts of her anatomy. It also included materials that gave us a crash course in gender dysphoria.
We’ll spare you the details; if you’re curious, you can look up the decision on Westlaw. In the end, Chief Judge Levi’s decision to allow the case to move forward was affirmed. The factual findings and legal reasoning he provided in support of his ruling were impeccable.
In his new role as dean of Duke Law School, David Levi will surely grapple once again with issues of transsexuality. But the questions presented will be less thorny. For example: Can transexuals use both the male and female bathrooms in the law school (as they can in the New York subway)?
The Duke deanship is an exciting new opportunity for one of our nation’s most distinguished jurists. Congratulations, Your Honor!
Food for thought: Professor Orin Kerr wonders: Is Chief Judge Levi, regarded by both liberals and conservatives as a fair and thoughtful jurist, the kind of Supreme Court nominee who could win over Democratic senators?
David Levi is only 55 years old. He’s a moderate conservative with 16 years of judicial experience, as well as a civil procedure guru. Now he’s adding another feather to his cap: the deanship of a prestigious law school. If he steers clear of controversy as dean, he’s certainly a SCOTUS possibility.
* From the Duke alum who sent us the press release: “I can speak for many of my fellow Duke Law alums when I say good riddance to the former dean, Kate Bartlett.”
Update: Some Duke alumni dissent from this assessment of Dean Bartlett. For further discussion, see the comments.
Federal Judge David F. Levi selected as Dean of Duke Law School [Duke Law School]
Duke Law School Selects Judge David Levi as Dean [WSJ Law Blog]
Wonderful news for Duke Law School, but a sad loss of a very talented judge [How Appealing]
David F. Levi bio [FJC]
Ex-Inmate’s Suit Advances [Sacramento Bee]
Transsexual inmate mistreated, court says [Sacramento Bee]
More on 100-0 Nominees [Volokh Conspiracy]