Minority Issues

Johnathan Perkins

When it comes to the protagonists of 2011′s biggest legal stories, our readers want to know: Where are they now? Last week, for example, we brought you an update on Casey Anthony, which generated keen interest (and traffic).

The recent alleged misadventures of certain UVA Law School students — students accused of breaking and entering, students accused of bothering bikers (to be fair, some bikers are obnoxious and deserve what they get) — have caused commentators to wonder: Whatever happened to Johnathan Perkins?

Johnathan Perkins was the then-3L at UVA Law who confessed to fabricating a tale of racial harassment by university police. As a result of his dishonesty, did he have to go before UVA’s famously strict Honor Committee? Did he end up getting his law degree? There was some ambiguity over whether he would graduate.

We have an update, based on a statement from the dean of the law school….

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In Grammer Pole of the Weak, we typically tackle issues of English grammar and usage, as well as questions of style (in terms of legal writing, not fashion). Last week, we delved into the fun topic of em-dash spacing, and learned that our readers are essentially deadlocked on whether to use a space before and after an em dash. In the end, using spaces prevailed by a margin as narrow as Mitt Romney’s Iowa caucus victory.

Our latest grammar poll pertains to usage, but it has a political component to it as well. It touches on hot-button issues like affirmative action and racial preferences, about which our readers have passionate opinions.

The question, in a nutshell: What does it mean to be a “diverse” individual?

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Does George Will look like the protector of Black America to you?

People who think giving charity to those less fortunate also gives them the right to direct the personal choices of those receiving the charity are some of the worst people on the planet. The biggest offenders are religious organizations: “Ooh, here’s some food. Yes. You like food, don’t you? I bet you’re hungry — I can tell ’cause I can see your ribs. Well, it’s all you can eat in here… first, just say you accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. SAY IT. Wonderful. Bon appétit!”

Organizations do it all the time, but there are plenty of individuals who also think giving a guy a buck gives them the right to tell the recipient how to spend the money. This behavior is the worst because it takes what should be a generous gesture (giving somebody money) and turns it into a cheap way to make a BS point about your moral superiority (“If this man did just one thing more like me, he wouldn’t have to beg for my scraps.”).

If you want to help, help. But don’t use “helping” as an excuse to further some ridiculous personal agenda. You’ll just look like an idiot. You’ll just look like George Will prancing around the pages of the Washington Post trying to act like he is against affirmative action because he suddenly wants the Supreme Court to step up to the plate and “help” black people….

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There are a lot of unhappy lawyers. We all know that. Part of their discontent is due to the fact that many young people go to law school who may not want to be lawyers, or do not take the time during law school to figure out what type of practice best fits their personality and goals. It was for this reason that I was so excited to learn about Steven Harper’s class for pre-law students. Getting to potential law students before they take on an obscene amount of debt is one way to prevent accidental lawyers.

But what about those individuals who actually want to be lawyers, but due to certain biases are not able to pursue their dreams? The answer is the same: get to them in college….

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Remember Venus Springs? She’s the former Mayer Brown associate who alleged discrimination and filed a Title VII complaint against the firm after being fired in September 2008. Well, she’s back, and she’s brought a whole new lawsuit to the table.

So, who is Springs suing this time, and what are her allegations? We’ll give you that information, plus the details of the benchslap associated with her latest case, after the jump….

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Kim Kardashian

* With AT&T’s T-Mobile deal falling apart, in-house lawyer Wayne Watts could be heard singing, “it’s my merger and I’ll cry if I want to,” before more whining to the FCC. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Build us a border fence, and then get the f**k over it. Arizona lawmakers are soliciting the public for donations to keep out the people who would work at low cost to build it. [New York Daily News]

* Ever wonder what’s preventing greater diversity in the law? Apparently the problem is pre-law counselors with advising skills that are crappier than minority LSAT scores. [National Law Journal]

* ‘Til death (and billable hours) do us part: British firms are paying for employees’ divorces. Biglawyers await the day this gets picked up America. [Press Association]

* The star of this year’s Black and Blue Friday was the not-so-wise Latina who decided it was a good idea to pepper-spray her Xbox competition. Best deal ever? No charges brought. [CNN]

* It looks like Kim Kardashian got her Christmas wish early this year. Her soon-to-be ex-husband will not be suing her for $10M over his portrayal on her new reality show. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

I’m starting to think that staff attorneys are being discriminated against because they are staff attorneys.

Today Thomson Reuters reports that a racial discrimination lawsuit has been filed against Quinn Emanuel by a former staff attorney. The plaintiff, who is African-American, claims that she was given less desirable work than her white colleagues and that she was forced to work with a person she “feared,” as retaliation for complaining about her treatment at the firm.

I’m not sure if racism really fits into Quinn’s work hard/play hard firm culture. I feel like the only color Quinn cares about is green, as in, “You’ve billed a ton of hours today despite being all kinds of hungover, I think you’re turning green”….

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Congratulations to the “Minority 40 Under 40.” This is a distinguished group of 40 minority lawyers, all under the age of 40, who have just been honored by the National Law Journal for their accomplishments within the legal profession.

Let’s learn more about them. Maybe you have friends or colleagues on the list?

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Poor little white boy.

According to a new study by UCLA law professor Richard Sander, discussed in an article in the Denver University Law Review, “the vast majority of American law students come from relatively elite backgrounds; this is especially true at the most prestigious law schools, where only five percent of all students come from families whose SES [socioeconomic status] is in the bottom half of the national distribution.”

In other breaking news, studies show that the vast majority of people who get into water emerge wet.

It’s beyond obvious that American law schools favor the elite. Talent will take you far, but having a financially sound family will take you farther. Professor Sander — whose prior research on law school prestige generated lots of buzz last year — argues that schools should use socioeconomic factors as a partial substitute for racial preferences.

Well, that’s a false choice if I ever heard one. Why can’t we have both socioeconomic and race-based affirmative action? Look, you can accuse me of playing the “race card” if you want to, but I’m just trying to figure out a way to help white people get into law school….

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What do Proskauer Rose and Ropes & Gray have in common (besides the seven shared letters in their firm names)?

  • They are both leading law firms.
  • They both have major presences, their two biggest offices, in New York and Boston.

  • They both have blue and gray in their logos.
  • And they are both involved in litigation with former employees claiming employment discrimination.

Let’s take a look at the latest news — a fresh lawsuit filed against Proskauer, and updates in a lawsuit against Ropes that we’ve previously covered….

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