Email Scandals

Elie here: just wanted to make sure you all know what’s coming.

Few things embarrass me like the Harvard Black Law Students Association. It could be the most credible foil to systemic racism against black law students. It has instead become a convenient tool to be used by those who wish to ignore the racial tensions in our system of legal education.

Don’t believe me? Earlier this week, we learned that a sole white kid called blacks genetically dumber than whites, and Harvard BLSA backed down — stepped and fetched, if you will — in the face of one solitary white person. It’s not the first time (we’ll get to the tragically impotent reaction to Kiwi Camara later). But at a point when the entire law school world would have at least considered what Harvard BLSA had to say, the organization sought to cover their own ass in the media, instead of standing up on the behalf of maligned black law students everywhere.

I cannot and do not wish to speak for all black law students and lawyers. But when confronted with abject racism, I can find the courage to speak for myself. I believe that gives me more balls than BLSA…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Harvard Law School BLSA and the Banality of Evil”

Martha Minow, Dean of the Harvard Law School — and, by the way, a possible Supreme Court nominee — has issued a statement regarding the allegedly racist email by a third-year Harvard Law School student that has been making the rounds. (We refer to the 3L in these pages as simply “CRIMSON DNA” or “DNA”; please do not post DNA’s real name in the comments.)

Not surprisingly for a law professor, Dean Minow avails herself of the teaching moment that the Harvard Black Law Students Association apparently passed on. She writes:

This sad and unfortunate incident prompts both reflection and reassertion of important community principles and ideals. We seek to encourage freedom of expression, but freedom of speech should be accompanied by responsibility. This is a community dedicated to intellectual pursuit and social justice. The circulation of one student’s comment does not reflect the views of the school or the overwhelming majority of the members of this community.

Dean Minow condemns the substance of the email in question:

Here at Harvard Law School, we are committed to preventing degradation of any individual or group, including race-based insensitivity or hostility. The particular comment in question unfortunately resonates with old and hurtful misconceptions. As an educational institution, we are especially dedicated to exposing to the light of inquiry false views about individuals or groups.

She also highlights a point we emphasized last night, namely, that BLSA did not publicize the email or pressure DNA’s future employer (a federal judge) to rescind a job offer.

The dean’s statement refers to an apology written by DNA. We haven’t seen the apology in question (although we’re trying to obtain it). If you have a copy, please email us (subject line: “HLS Apology”).

Dean Minow’s full statement appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Harvard Law School ‘Racist’ Email Controversy:
Dean Martha Minow Weighs In”

Earlier today, we wrote about an email controversy emanating from the halls of Harvard Law School. A 3L at HLS — referred to in these pages simply as “CRIMSON DNA,” and please help us keep it that way — sent out an email message that some construed as “racist.” In the email, “CRIMSON DNA,” following up on remarks made during an apparently spirited dinner conversation, wrote as follows:

I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic.

That was just the opening. Read the rest of DNA’s email over here.

We now bring you some corrections and clarifications, as well as additional discussion — in case the 100+ tweets, 800+ comments, and 1,000+ Facebook shares weren’t enough for you….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Harvard Law School ‘Racist’ Email Controversy:
Corrections and More Commentary”

Every time you put something into an email, please remember that someone you send it to may hit Forward. If your email makes the case for a biological reason for racial disparities in intelligence, someone might hit Forward and send it to Black Law Student Associations across the nation.

That’s what happened to a Harvard 3L yesterday. We’ll call this 3L CRIMSON DNA. According to our sources, DNA made some controversial comments about race at a dinner held by the school’s Federalist Society.

CORRECTION: This dinner was not a Fed Soc dinner. [FN1]

After the dinner, DNA felt the need to send an email to a few friends clarifying those views. Here’s an excerpt:

I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic. African Americans tend to have darker skin. Irish people are more likely to have red hair.

One of the 3Ls to receive that email, available in full after the jump, was very upset by it. We’ll call this student CRIMSON OUTRAGE. OUTRAGE arranged for the email to be sent out to the Harvard Black Law Student Association list-serv, including DNA’s name and the fact that after graduation, the author will be doing a federal clerkship.

CORRECTION: It now appears that OUTRAGE disseminated the email, several months after the email was originally sent, because she got into a fight with DNA — not because she (OUTRAGE) was offended by the email.

After that, the email went viral, apparently circulating to BLSAs across the country. There are now plans to try to go after DNA’s clerkship….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Harvard Law School 3L’s Racist Email Goes National”

Here at Above the Law, we’re used to seeing funny and fiery departure memos. But the one we were forwarded last night is truly a special treat.

Here’s the set up. The memo comes out of a small firm in the Atlanta area. It was written by a paralegal — we’ll call her “Blaze of Glory.” She had some very pointed things to say about one of the associates, who we’ll call “Attila.” A partner at the firm, “My Name is Pitt,” is also referenced in the memo. All the rest of the backstory comes from a tipster:

I am told that the ENTIRE firm was blind copied when this email was sent. Now there’s only about 20 or so attorneys at this firm, however, the firm also includes about [a much larger number of] paralegals/legal assistants. A few words cannot describe this email; you just have to read the email to believe it.

Oh, this is going to be fun …

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “When Paralegals Burn Bridges”

It’s one of the few things still shrouded in secrecy at most firms: which partners have equity in the firm and which don’t. Actual partners, of course, get a share in the firm’s profits, and are part of the PPP calculations reported by Am Law. Non-equity partners get the partner honorific, but in actuality they’re often just glorified senior associates, at least when it comes to matters like salary and major firm decisions. (Of course, this varies from firm to firm.)

Being a non-equity partner can be nice. You generally don’t have to toil on management committees or get caught up in partnership politics, and you may be less personally exposed to financial fallout should the firm’s fortunes sour (assuming the equity partners made personal guarantees on loans). But being a non-equity partner is also like being a stepparent that the children don’t respect. You don’t have any real power and don’t get to reap the full rewards from your investment and care.

Women and minority groups have tried to put pressure on firms to reveal partners’ equity or non-equity status when it comes to diversity reporting. But firms have resisted, saying that they don’t want to stigmatize non-equity partners. Angela Onwuachi-Willig sums it up on Concurring Opinions:

Over the past two years, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) has tried to obtain information regarding the breakdown of equity and non-equity partners by gender and race at law firms. The majority of NALP’s law firm members refused to hand over the information, and NALP eventually gave in on February 12.

The Executive Director of NALP, [James] Leipold, indicated that most firms cited privacy concerns for not divulging the details of their equity and non-equity partnership breakdowns. According to Leipold, small firms especially worried that providing such information would allow non-equity partners to be easily identified and stigmatized.

Well, Delaware firm Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor has revealed who its non-equity partners are, though it did so by accident. The firm’s controller needs a little lesson on the use of “bcc”…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Here’s One Way To Reveal Your Firm’s Non-Equity Partners”

Mayer Brown LLP new logo.jpgApparently, people who summered at Mayer Brown in 2009 and received an offer are still waiting to hear whether they will be able to start work in a timely manner.
Two former MB summer associates and current NYU Law students decided to take matters into their own hands. They sent out an email to everybody in Mayer Brown’s 2009 summer class. The students hoped to put grassroots pressure on Mayer Brown. I’ve redacted the students’ real names.

Hello Mayer Brown Class of 2010,
You know [Rosencrantz] if you were in New York, and [Guildenstern] if you were in Chicago. We are writing because Mayer Brown has kept us all in the dark about our futures. Their delay in formally announcing any of the plans for our class is unique among top law firms — in their total lack of official communication regarding our start dates, stipend, and health insurance over the coming year, they truly stand alone.
This letter is a call to concerted action in order to require Mayer Brown to make formal announcements regarding our future. We urge that each Mayer Brown 2009 Summer Associate ask their Law School’s Office of Career Services to call Mayer Brown and request the immediate formal announcement of the terms of our offers.

The rest of this call to action, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Mutiny at Mayer Brown?”

Akin Gump logo.JPGHave you had the privilege of voluntarily leaving your Biglaw job? I have, and let me tell you, the last day is a special kind of awesome. You kind of walk around, taking a survey of things you no longer have to deal with. Many of your friends and colleagues look at you with envy in their eyes. Friends of mine outside of the law have told me that leaving a job is bittersweet; but most associates who have left Biglaw on their own terms describe the sensation as “delicious.”

Now, when I left, I said all the right things, said goodbye to all the appropriate people, and wrote a standard, passionless departure memo. No gloating from me, I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as I could. But looking back on it, I wish I had done something notable. Nothing outrageous: boiling the managing partner’s pet rabbit sounds appropriate but is ultimately unsatisfying. I just wish I had taken advantage of my last day in some mildly humorous way.

An associate who left Akin Gump last week will have no such longstanding regrets. Here’s the “seeking contacts” email that was sent to the entire firm once the associate had both feet out of the door:

Sent: Friday, February 26, 2010 11:59 AM
To: FW ALL
Subject: Seeking contacts

Pardon the interruption. Please respond to sender only if you can recommend a reasonably priced plaintiffs’ attorney in Costa Rica. A friend of the firm has a handful of potential plaintiffs who believe there is a connection between their testicle cancer and a chemical used to make tea bags. They are looking for an attorney in Costa Rica to advise and represent them in this matter.

Thanks,
[Redacted]

You know, the lives of Biglaw attorneys are such that on first blush one might think that this message was intended seriously.

But we spoke with the associate who sent out the message. Thankfully, the message was a product of a last day dare.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Departing with Flair”

Wake Forest Law logo.JPGFor one glorious moment, prospective law students thinking of going to Wake Forest Law School learned that they had received the Melanie Nutt Scholarship from the school. Then, in an instant, the scholarship was recalled. Apparently the offer of free money was a technical error:

About ten minutes ago I received an e-mail from them telling me I had been offered a $30k/year scholarship. Obviously I was thrilled, as Wake was (keyword: was) at the top of my list. Before I could gloat to my friends, I received a follow-up e-mail …

That follow up email had “ERROR” in the headline, so students knew it couldn’t be good. Apparently there was a technical glitch and a number of students were accidently promised scholarship money.
And the mistake wasn’t limited to just one poor soul.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Wake Forest Gives Law Students Money, Takes it Back Immediately”

Received last Friday from a tipster at Winston & Strawn (who was unhappy with the firm’s double salary freeze):

winston strawn.gifTo add major insult to injury — especially after Sidley Austin’s announcement [of a raise] this afternoon — the Managing Partner of Winston just accidentally emailed a memo to ALL ATTORNEYS (including all associates) which he meant to send only to ALL PARTNERS, bragging about FY2010 collections. He talks about how work in process and accounts receivable were the same on Jan. 31, 2009 as they were on Jan. 31, 2010, how they accomplished a revenue increase without reducing overall assets, and how work in process added in January 2010 exceeded budget.

A moment later, he tried to recall the message with that Outlook “recall” function that doesn’t really work. Amazing.

Ah yes, Microsoft Outlook’s useless “recall” feature — which just draws attention to the gaffe. If it doesn’t work for federal judges or for DLA Piper partners, why should it work for Winston?
(Misaddressing an email is like passing gas, or making an unwanted advance towards a colleague. Sometimes it’s best to just pretend it didn’t happen.)
Check out the Winston & Strawn memo — intended for “all partners,” but now going out to all the world — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Total Recall? Not at Winston & Strawn.
Email gaffe sends ‘all partners’ memo to ‘all attorneys.’

Page 13 of 221...91011121314151617...22