Diversity

Angelica Cecora

Ed. note: Due to the Labor Day holiday, we’ll be on a reduced publication schedule today. We’ll be back to normal tomorrow. A restful and happy Labor Day to all!

* The lone ex-Dewey partner who was sued by Citibank for defaulting on his capital loan is fighting back, claiming that he was “fraudulently induced” into signing up for the plan even though the bank knew that the S.S. D&L was sinking. [Reuters]

* If you’re trying to avoid additional questions being raised about your alleged bad behavior, a resignation amid scandal isn’t the way to do it. Suzanne Barr, the ICE official accused of running a federal “frat house,” has quit her job. [New York Daily News]

* A federal judge taught the members of the Louisiana Supreme court that the year 1994 did, in fact, occur before the year 1995. Justice Bernette Johnson will now ascend to the rank of chief justice. [Times-Picayune]

* Because we’re all a little hopeless these days: given the bleak realities of our economic situation, perhaps it’s finally time to change the standard for a discharge of student loan debt in bankruptcy. [New York Times]

* “The groups that attempt to rank schools are involved in a lot of hogwash.” Even if that’s the case, people are still going to care about the University of Illinois’s rankings nosedive after the Paul Pless to-do. [News-Gazette]

* Don’t be scared by the absurd tuition rates or the abysmal job prospects, because law school is still a great investment for African-Americans — and for law schools in search of diversity, too. [National Law Journal]

* “[T]hat a lawyer would take this kind of case is shocking.” Sadly, it’s not. Angelica Marie Cecora, the alleged escort who filed a $5M suit against Oscar de la Hoya, now has to pay all of his legal fees. [New York Post]

Amy Schulman, general counsel of Pfizer

When it comes to the representation of women in the top positions in the legal profession, the news seems somewhat mixed. Things could be better in Biglaw. According to a recent survey, women constitute just 15 percent of equity partners — a number that has stayed roughly the same for the past 20 years.

On the in-house side of the divide, though, the news is better. Women lawyers are ascending to the post of general counsel in record numbers.

Let’s check out the latest findings, courtesy of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA)….

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Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are well accustomed to the concept of diversity. San Franciscans embrace it. They live among and celebrate people of every race, ethnicity and nationality. They embrace every sexual orientation. And they welcome political persuasions spanning the gamut from socialist to liberal. Ah, life’s infinite diversity.

I’ve mentioned before that when I snorkeled in the Cayman Islands, I was amazed at the vast number of different species of fish. When I go to a favorite deli or café, I’m reluctant to order “the usual,” however much I might enjoy it, because I’ve always believed that variety is good. The concepts of variety and diversity present themselves to us every day.

Diversity is also an important concept for law firms, especially smaller law firms and boutiques. And this is true of “diversity” in a variety of contexts, some of which are not so obvious….

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Who wants to do some document review?

We’re entering on-campus interviewing season. If you’re a law student going through OCI, or if you’re a lawyer involved in your firm’s recruiting process, be sure to check out Above the Law’s new law student career center, a repository job search resources, and our law firm directory, where law firms get letter grades in different categories.

One area that interviewees are always interested in is diversity. Diverse attorneys — okay, that’s a bad way of putting it — minority attorneys want to know where they’ll feel welcome. Even lawyers who aren’t minorities want workplaces that are open and inclusive. And corporate clients are increasingly keen on sending their work to firms that show a commitment to diversity.

So which Biglaw firms are the biggest on diversity? Let’s check out the latest rankings….

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Although your office may have more Asians than the NBA, it may be far off from being a truly diverse workplace. But as long as your firm can count some minorities on its attorney roster, who really cares about increasing diversity anyway?

Clients, for one. As companies become more diverse, they expect their outside counsel to reflect a similar diversity. A firm that can’t demonstrate a real commitment to boosting its diversity is in danger of getting dumped or passed over by clients. In the long run, that may translate into no work, or even no job, for you. So how can you (minority or not) actively do your part to encourage diversity in your workplace? Here are the Career Center’s top three tips:

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Is it right for a law school to send its students to tolerance camp? Mandatory tolerance camp? Mandatory tolerance camp, where unexcused absences will result in an intolerant notation placed in students’ permanent records?

When I came across the story of a state law school holding a “mandatory” diversity seminar that students were required to attend, my first instinct was to side with the students who objected to the required nature of the program. Generally, I’m not a fan of forcing people to be nice to each other, and you can’t force a man to change what’s in his heart. If students want to be racist or prejudiced to others in their community, that’s something that may demand an institutional response. But if some kids don’t think they’ll benefit much from “diversity training,” whatever that means, so be it.

But when the ABA’s committee on accreditation is telling law school administrators that the student body needs to work on its racial sensitivity, well, you can see how the law school is in a bit of a bind…

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Is that a black rhino or a conservative law prof?

Conservative law professors need help. They don’t want to admit it because conservative orthodoxy holds that the only people who can ask for help in this country are small businessmen and the institution of marriage, but make no mistake, conservatives who want to get a tenure-track job in legal academia need a leg up. That’s because they’ve been discriminated against, both currently and historically. Law school faculties are thought to be a bastion of liberalism, and the problem has gotten so bad that conservative law profs probably need a “plus-factor” in order to overcome this ingrained systemic bias.

Diversity is important in law schools, and if we’re going to have an intellectually diverse faculty, we need to find a way to integrate more conservatives into teaching positions, even if that means a qualified, liberal law professor loses his or her “spot” on the tenure track for a colleague that leans a little harder to the right.

I’d be all for that. But conservatives can’t admit that they made need a diversity program to combat generations of systemic selection bias. So instead, they’re just going to bitch about the fundamental unfairness. Or fire off employment discrimination lawsuits….

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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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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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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]

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