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?
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.
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]
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 hasbeencalled 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 amazingapartments 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.
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]
If you think most legal technology misses the mark, LexisNexis Firm Manager® wants to change your mind. Read more about it here.
Built with input from hundreds of solo and small-firm attorneys across the country, it’s made for practitioners who’d rather build the firm of their dreams than deal with the hassles of running a business.
· Go Mobile, Stay Connected.
See all your firm’s information, wherever you are, on whatever device you’re using. Access and update client files, enter billing, search & share documents and more. It’s just like you’re in the office, only you’re not.
When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!