Minority Issues

Each year, associates and partners wait with anticipation for American Lawyer to roll out its signature rankings. First comes the influential Am Law 100, followed by the closely watched Am Law 200, and finally comes the annual A-List, the most associate-focused ranking of them all. This ranking identifies the most “well-rounded” of all Am Law 100 firms (i.e., the firms that are “the total package”).

The A-List differs from other Am Law rankings in that only one financial metric is involved — revenue per lawyer (RPL). The other factors included in this ranking are pro bono work, diversity, and most importantly, associate satisfaction. Double the weight is typically given to firms’ RPL and pro bono scores, and we usually see the same firms in the top three. That was not the case at all this time around.

This year, we’ve got a wildly different top three, and a new number one. Which 20 firms came out on top?

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Last week I wrote about the bar exam. This week I am hearkening back to happier times after first and/or second year of law school: fat paycheck, lunch out everyday, the life of a Biglaw summer associate. 

But maybe it isn’t quite the same experience for everyone….

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Would you wear these to court?

* Hmm, somebody didn’t review those documents quickly enough: the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy trial has been delayed for about a month’s time by Judge Steven Rhodes because the parties needed additional time to get their acts together. [Bloomberg]

* The NCAA may have lost the battle in the Keller EA Sports video games case with its $20 million settlement offer, but it’s clearly out for blood to win the war in the O’Bannon case with its tough cross-examination tactics for the lead plaintiff. [USA Today]

* GW Law, a school that recently increased its class size by 22 percent and allowed its average LSAT score to slip by two points, yoinked its new dean right out from under Wake Forest’s nose. [GW Hatchet]

* The legal profession isn’t exactly diverse, and law schools want to change that — the more pictures of “diverse” students they can display on their websites, the better. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Who really cares what prospective jurors wear when they show up for jury duty? The lawyers arguing that being turned away for wearing sneakers affected their clients’ rights in a case, that’s who. [WSJ Law Blog]

The only thing more obsolete than this building is what is inside it.

Some students at the University of Chicago Law School are up in arms because the school’s law review rejected a diversity proposal recommended by the school’s faculty. This rejection leaves Chicago’s law review as the only one at a top law school without any diversity component for choosing student staffers.

UPDATE (8:00 p.m.): A Chicago tipster clarifies: “While the faculty supported the Chicago Law Review diversity proposal, it was written and proposed by law review leadership,” which advocated for it strongly.

This is the point in the post where everybody, including my colleagues, expects me to scream RACEISM™ and jump up and down on the generally right-leaning law school. But honestly, I just don’t care. I just don’t give a damn if a law school is choosing spots on its law review fairly, unfairly, with racial animus, or based on cup size. NOBODY READS THEM. More people will read this post about the Chicago Law Review than will actually read the law review.

And really, if we’re going to pretend that getting on to law review is some important measure of student success or achievement, then maybe Chicago Law needs to do a better job of educating minority and female students at the school so that they might achieve at the same level of success as the white males who “win” this generally irrelevant prize….

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You might die on Mars, but you’d probably be employed.

* Due to the extreme polarization of SCOTUS, with its near constant 5-4 opinion line-ups, “it becomes increasingly difficult to contend … that justices are not merely politicians clad in fine robes.” Yep. [The Upshot / New York Times]

* Tim Wu, the Columbia Law professor who first introduced the term “net neutrality” to the world, had two of his clerkships (Posner and Breyer) “arranged” by Professor Lawrence Lessig. If only we could all be so lucky. [New York Times]

* We’re getting the sinking feeling that the lack of diversity in law school is one of those problems that everyone and their mother claims to be trying to fix, but the lack of momentum keeps it from ever truly improving. [National Law Journal]

* When contemplating what law schools would have to do to get a bailout, this law professor has three ideas, and they involve changing her colleagues’ lives in uncomfortable ways. Well played. [Boston Globe]

* Cole Leonard is struggling to decide between going to law school and going to Mars. Well, he’s more likely to have a job doing anything on Mars than here on Earth as a lawyer. HTH. [Dallas Morning News]

* The L.A. Clippers have a new CEO, for the time being. Say hello to Dick Parsons, the former chairman of Patterson Belknap, a man who the world hopes is not quite as racist as his predecessor. [Am Law Daily]

The people who regulate rich white guys in basketball are way tougher than the people who regulate rich white guys in banking.

Kevin Roose, author of Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits (affiliate link), commenting on Twitter about N.B.A Commissioner Adam Silver’s harsh punishment of Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

(Both Silver and Sterling are lawyers. Check out their backgrounds, and find out which elite firm conducted the NBA investigation of Sterling, after the jump.)

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‘This memo makes my head hurt.’

On any day of the week, it’s highly likely that a Biglaw firm will be trumpeting news of its successful diversity initiatives from any available media rooftop. The public relations folks at these law firms really want you to know that their hallowed halls aren’t completely jam-packed full of old white men — in fact, only 86.1 percent of them are old white men, so there.

Given the glowing alabaster hue of most Biglaw firms, you can see where it could be difficult for members of their so-called diversity committees to actually relate to those who are considered “diverse” in law firm parlance. We’re talking about lawyers of a different gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, but in law firm world, they might as well be otherworldly beings.

We’re told that some of these foreign creatures may be working in your very own law firm. If you’d like to learn how to interact with them, feel free to take some advice from one of the most absurd diversity memos we’ve ever seen…

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Calm down, affirmative action supporters, calm down. Yes, the Supreme Court just gave every state the authority to ban affirmative action in college admissions if they so choose. Yes, Stephen Breyer sided with the majority. Yes, this all looks incredibly bad if you think that race should be at least as allowable a consideration for admission as whether or not an applicant’s daddy went to the school.

But nothing is f**ked here dude. Not really. Colleges will still use some form of race-conscious admissions policies, even state schools. Affirmative action works and nothing that happened today will change that. The Court just made it more likely that admissions committees will have to get creative when putting together a diverse class of students…

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Have you ever made a typo? Have you ever misspelled something in a written document? Have you ever made a factual error? Chances are, if you are white and you made a mistake, the person reading it didn’t notice. Or if they noticed, they made an excuse for you. Don’t worry white folks, minor clerical errors won’t detract from your overall appearance of intelligence and competence.

But if you’re black, prepare to feel like an idiot. A new study shows that when law firm partners read identical memos, the partners who believed the author was white were much more forgiving than the partners who thought the author was black.

Hang on, I need to email this study to David Lat, Bryan Garner, my mom, Matt Levine, and Partner Emeritus, from my fake, white-person, @post.harvard.edu account, so they take it seriously….

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After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee accepted a position as president of what was then called Washington College. By all accounts, he served the school well and had a nice end of life. After his death, Washington College was renamed Washington & Lee.

Today, many black people attend the university that bears Marse Robert’s surname, so I guess we won. But a group of black law students at Washington & Lee Law School is getting really sick of the university’s consistent, stars-and-bars waving support of Lee’s legacy and the whitewashing (no pun intended) of what that legacy represents.

They’ve got a list of some very specific “demands” for the Washington & Lee administration…

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