Racism

How many racist emails does it take to brand someone a racist? My personal rule is “one.” If you send one horribly racist email that actually manages to leak out into public discourse, it’s probably not your only one. Seeing a racist email from someone is like seeing a mouse in your apartment: there’s never just one. I believe in temporary insanity, but I don’t believe in sudden onset racism that magically appears once and only once and then disappears forever.

Of course, whenever anybody gets caught in a racist email scandal, they always say that it’s the only one. It’s always “Whoops, that email was racist, but I’m not racist.” The racist email is always allegedly “out of character,” and the person always claims to have shown “poor judgment.” And that person always has some apologists, as if sending one or two racist emails is just something that “happens” in the normal course of business to non-racist people.

That’s what Judge Richard Cebull claimed. In 2012, he was busted sending around a racist email about President Obama. He claimed that he didn’t mean to be “racist” — he just meant to voice his displeasure with the president (as if it wasn’t bad enough for the judge to be taking public opinions about the sitting president).

Some people bought the Cebulls**t. Not me. And Cebull eventually retired. But the investigation into his misconduct continued, and now that investigation has been made public.

Surprise, Richard Cebull sent a ton of racist, sexist, and otherwise inappropriate emails….

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Join us at the Yale Club in New York City on March 14 for the inaugural ATL Attorney@Blog conference. Featuring opening remarks by the preeminent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, Attorney@Blog will be a first-of-its-kind convocation of the leading legal bloggers. Panelists will include Tim Wu of Columbia Law School, Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal, Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency, Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog, Vivia Chen of The Careerist, and many more.

In addition, the conference will provide space for attendees to network, socialize, and, of course, blog the proceedings. CLE credit available! See here for more details and tickets. Early bird pricing in effect until February 1st.

Attorney@Blog Panels:

Free Speech Online
Moderator: David Lat
This panel will discuss emerging free speech issues in addition to practical advice on how to avoid violating libel statutes and other related legal pitfalls.

The Trolls: Confronting (or Ignoring) Racism and Sexism
Moderator: Staci Zaretsky
This panel will explore the various strategies and best practices (along with their intellectual underpinnings) available to legal bloggers in managing the dark side of the internet: the “trolls” who engage in offensive and hateful (albeit protected) speech.

Blogs as Agents of Change
Moderator: Elie Mystal
This session will explore the degree to which blogs and bloggers are a by-product or prime mover behind the way in which the profession is being forced to challenge some of its basic assumptions.

Emerging Technical Trends & Best Practices
Moderator: Joe Patrice
This panel will explore the intersection of technology and the law. Topics to include the use of social media for business development as well as practical tips on content strategy, SEO, blogging platforms, and other topics.

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]

Chief Judge Loretta Preska

Black people are not N—, even if they call themselves [that]… on occasion. It is not a term of endearment.

– Muhammad Ibn Bashir, the lawyer for Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, in the latter’s public corruption trial. The disagreement over the term arose when Chief Judge Loretta Preska (S.D.N.Y.) denied a request to play a recorded conversation that Bashir contends would prove that Stevenson’s alleged accomplice was really his enemy. Judge Preska countered that the word can function as a term of endearment in certain situations, invoking Bashir’s quotable retort.


* Downton Abbey has inspired a new bill making its way through the House of Lords, who apparently watched the show and figured out for the first time that women get screwed by the law of entail. Now if they can just pass a law that would keep Bates out of prison in the first place. [The Atlantic]

* Ben Adlin reminisces about the era when the Supreme Court actually cared about oral arguments. [Summary Judgments]

* An interesting infographic on where Superlawyers went to school. Finally a ranking where NYU can top Yale. [Online Paralegal Programs]

* Another installment of classic ads ruined by lawyers. [Vice]

* Fifth Circuit judges aren’t the only ones to tell their colleagues to shut up; here’s some fun news from the Philippines. [Manila Times]

* French cities have banned performances of a comedian with a history of racking up hate speech fines. I mean, since when has anti-Semitism been a problem in Europe? [Al Jazeera]

* If you think conservative arguments against the Affordable Care Act are dumb, check out liberal columnists arguing that Obama screwed up by not pushing for single-payer. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

The Tiger Mother roars again.

That insecurity should be a critical lever of success is another anathema, flouting the entire orthodoxy of contemporary popular and therapeutic psychology…. Note that there’s a deep tension between insecurity and a superiority complex. It’s odd to think of people being simultaneously insecure but also convinced of their divine election or superiority.

– Professors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld of Yale Law School, in their forthcoming book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America (affiliate link).

(The 8 superior ethnic cultural groups are listed below. Did yours make the cut?)

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Amy Chua: She’s baaaaaaack!

* “Either access to abortion will be dramatically restricted in the coming year or perhaps the pushback will begin.” We’re moving back in history. Here’s hoping pro-choice advocacy will be born anew in 2014. [New York Times]

* George S. Canellos, the SEC’s co-chief of enforcement, announced his departure on Friday, and people are already wondering whether he’ll return to his old stomping grounds at Milbank Tweed. [DealBook / New York Times]

* We hope legal educators had fun at the Association of American Law Schools annual meeting, but we hope most of all that they learned what needs to change to really make legal education pay. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “I believe women lawyers can contribute a lot to the legal system.” Saudi Arabia now has its first female law firm dedicated to bringing women’s issues to the country’s patriarchal courts. Congratulations! [RT]

* A Starbucks spokeswoman issued a defense to the cease-and-desist response letter that went viral worldwide, and it reads just like how her company’s coffee tastes: bland. [International Business Times]

* Amy “Tiger Mom” Chua is back with a vengeance, co-authoring a controversial new book (affiliate link) with her husband, Jed Rubenfeld. Which ethnic cultural groups are superior? [New York Post]

As 2013 draws to a close, let’s look back at the 10 biggest stories in the legal profession over the past year. This is an annual tradition here at Above the Law, which we’ve done in 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. We’ll fire up the old Google Analytics machine to get data on our most popular posts, based on pageviews, and share the results with you.

Before turning to specific stories, let’s look at the top general discussion topics here at ATL. For 2013, our most trafficked category page was Biglaw, which bumped Law Schools out of the top spot — a spot that Law Schools held from 2010 through 2012. Now that the word is out about the perils of getting a law degree, leading to plummeting applications, perhaps it’s time to move on from the “don’t go to law school” narrative.

After Biglaw and Law Schools, our third most-popular category page was, as usual, Bonuses. This wasn’t a terribly exciting year for bonuses — there were no spring bonuses, and Cravath and its many followers paid out the same bonuses as last year — but people still want to know the score.

Our fourth most-popular category page was small law firms. Small firms, including boutiques, are an area of increasing focus and readership for us — and also where many of the job opportunities are these days.

Moving on from the topic pages, what were the 10 most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2013?

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Call it a “Legal Blogger Summit.” Call it “Blawgocolypse 2014″ or “Law Bloggers, Now With Sound,” but we’re calling it the “Attorney@Blog Conference,” a first-of-its-kind, one-day convocation of the leading legal bloggers, taking place on Friday, March 14th, at the Yale Club of NYC. The conference will feature a series of panel discussions covering an array of exigent issues facing the legal blogging community, including free speech, race and gender, and technology. ATL editors David Lat, Elie Mystal, Joe Patrice, and Staci Zaretsky will serve as moderators. Panelists will include stars of the legal blogosphere, from journalists to academics to activists. While we’re still finalizing our lineup of speakers and panelists, we wanted to give you an early look at the day’s schedule. We’ll be adding details as they’re confirmed. Click here for all the details.

Wipe that grin off your face, Sam.

I think the tongue-in-cheek answer would be that I was surprised because of how much [Justice Samuel Alito's] done in the way of supporting anti-discrimination laws over the years. But that would be just a facetious comment.

– Judge Harold Baer (S.D.N.Y.), responding to Justice Alito’s criticisms of the practice of encouraging law firms to staff class action suits with women and minority lawyers. Baer went on to sarcastically suggest that Alito lacked “either understanding or interest” in discrimination experienced by these groups.

We are not talking about all white people, or you white people in general. We are talking about whiteness as a system of oppression.

– Professor Shannon Gibney, an English professor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, during an in-class discussion about white privilege. Issues involving Professor Gibney have given rise to student complaints, faculty reprimands, and litigation….)

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