Minority Issues

I must confess to having a tin ear when it comes to issues of race. My view on racial issues is like my view on sports: What’s the big deal? Why does everyone care so much?

Perhaps it’s because I’m Asian; we tend to be bystanders as African-Americans and whites yell at each other. Perhaps it’s because I’m Filipino-American; we are total mutts a very hybrid people. Not to go all Fauxcahontas on you, but according to my (not genealogically verified) family lore, I have Malay, Chinese, Spanish, British, and Czech ancestry.

And thanks to the rise of intermarriage in the United States, my kind of ethnic hybridity is the wave of the future. In fifty or 100 or 150 years, more people will have my blasé attitude about race because “race” as a concept will be so much less salient. To tweak the famous words of Chief Justice John Roberts, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to intermarry so much so that nobody knows what race anybody else is.”

In the meantime, though, there’s plenty of racial tension to go around. Today we bring you allegations of racism at a law school, countered by allegations of playing the race card (i.e., crying racism in bad faith or without sufficient proof).

Let’s take a look at the latest heated controversy, taking place at a top law school….

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We’ve previously covered the departure of Paul Schiff Berman as dean of George Washington University Law School. There was a lot of intrigue regarding Dean Berman’s departure.

Now it appears that the decision on Dean Berman’s replacement is also steeped in controversy. Today, GW Law named Professor Gregory Maggs as its interim dean. In so doing, the school passed over their Senior Associate Dean, Christopher Bracey. Instead of promoting Bracey into the interim dean position, he’ll stay on at GW, under Maggs.

This seems like a good time to point out that Maggs is white and Bracey is black.

And so let’s play our game, because a member of the GW Law Faculty, who is also black, had a real problem with the decision to pass over Bracey. She called it “not the law school’s finest hour” in a message to the entire faculty. And then she subtly told another faculty member to go jump in a lake.

Fun times….

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Wait, that’s the wrong answer.

It’s been great fun to watch archconservatives wake up and realize what country they’ve been living in this whole time. Minorities vote too. Single women don’t like being called sluts. Gays and lesbians are everywhere. And people can understand that sometimes, taxes are necessary.

The emerging American consciousness — from both Democrats and Republicans — that if we want government to do things we have to pay for them with taxes, has been particularly fun to watch. In Austin, Texas, there was a ballot initiative which contemplated raising property takes to in order to pay for “a medical school in Austin and other health care projects,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. And it passed!

But that didn’t sit well with some Texans. Don Zimmerman, treasurer of the Travis County Taxpayers Union political action committee, argued that the initiative — called Proposition 1 — was discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act. Zimmerman and his attorney argued that Prop 1 was confusing to minorities who “have lower reading comprehension than whites.”

Maybe so, but I sho’nuff can spy me a racist when I done read one….

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A couple of weeks ago, we told you about the On Being A Black Lawyer’s ranking of the best law schools for black people. I thought that list was pretty useful.

This one is less so.

I’m looking at the National Jurist rankings of “most diverse law schools” and, I gotta tell you, I can’t really see why anybody would or should care about them. Don’t get me wrong, I like diversity, I think it’s critically important to a good educational environment.

But I guess I find “diversity” to be a kind of binary issue: either you have a diverse campus, or you don’t. And we can argue about what makes a place diverse, what gets you over that intangible line. But being the “most diverse” is kind of like being the “most wet” person at the beach. I’m sure that distinction goes to somebody, but the key distinction is separating the wet from the dry.

I dunno, maybe I’d be more interested if any of these “most diverse” student bodies had better than a “snowball’s chance in hell” at getting a job….

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Beat up your copier, not your clients.

* As a tipster wrote, “This judge done lost her mind.” We don’t know about that, but something is clearly wrong here. [Chicago Sun-Times]

* Another brutal — yet disarmingly tender — takedown of the bros who run IsAnybodyDown. [Popehat]

* Robert Morton Duncan, the first black justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, RIP. [Times Union]

* Yes, clients can be royal pains in the behind. But you still can’t hit an obnoxious client over the head with a baseball bat. [Charleston Gazette]

* Major Kudos to McGuireWoods for the firm’s support of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. We encourage other firms (and individuals) to do the same. [American Red Cross]

* “As American as the modern prison system” doesn’t have the same ring as “apple pie.” For better or worse, though, it’s equally true. [Cruel and Unusual]

* LawDingo is a new company that connects potential clients with lawyers — all from the convenience of home. It’s the way of the future! [Dow Jones]

I’d like to live in a world where the list of best law schools “for black people” was exactly the same as the list of best law schools “for people.”

I think we’re close. Black people are already conditioned to make the same stupid decisions based on the U.S. News rankings as white people have been making for a generation. And while there are still some unhelpful people who try to tell black people that the reasons for going to law school are somehow radically different for them than for everybody else, for the most part, people understand that black people go to law school for the same reason white people do: jobs.

Still, we’re not quite there, in large part because the strength and vibrancy of the black community can vary greatly between law schools. In this day and age, nobody should expect to be the “only” black student in their small section. Everybody should expect access to a diverse law school faculty. But some law schools do a better job of providing those kinds of environments than others.

Now, usually when I see a non-U.S. News law school ranking, I make fun of it. That’s because there is usually some kind of huge, methodological problem with them. And then, of course, there is the pathetic joke that is the Cooley Law School Rankings. In general, non-U.S. News rankings fail either by offering no new information than what is already captured by U.S. News, or by looking at completely stupid information that nobody cares about.

With that in mind, I opened The Black Student’s Guide To Law School with a lot of skepticism. I mean, unless they figured out how to capture the all important “racist apologist per oblivious white person” metric, I wasn’t sure there would be a lot of utility here.

But having thumbed through the guide and their ranking of the top 25 national law schools for black people, I have to say that there is a lot of good stuff in here. And I’m not just saying that because Yale Law plummets to #19….

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Courtney Horne

You can’t keep a good story down. And the case of Courtney Horne v. Donald North, currently being tried in the court of public opinion, is a good story.

We first mentioned this ugly spat between a former law student at Southern University Law Center and her former criminal law professor in passing. Readers clamored for more coverage. So we did a follow-up post, a quick Quote of the Day — which racked up thousands upon thousands of pageviews.

So let’s give you what you want: more discussion of Courtney Horne, Professor North, and Southern University Law Center (SULC)….

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FOIA requests: how do they work?

As our resident Juggalo columnist mentioned in August, the minions of crazed rednecks who worship at the altar of Violent J and Shaggy2Dope — otherwise known as the Insane Clown Posse — are not at all happy that the FBI has labelled them a gang. To defend their honor, as well as their right to get wasted and throw absurd parties in the middle of nowhere, the Juggalo nation has decided to launch a Faygo attack on the Pentagon sue the FBI.

Looks like these clowns aren’t clowning around….

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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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