We’re hoping the Harvard Law School email controversy has run its course — and we suspect that it has. (But we still invite you to take our reader poll on whether Crimson DNA’s email was racist or offensive.)
Before we close the door on this story, we’d like to give you the background on how it all got started. It’s disturbing — and a cautionary tale for all of us.
Our initial report on this story was missing some important pieces of information, which we did not acquire until later. This post will attempt to provide a more complete report of how one Harvard 3L’s personal email message, shared with just a handful of friends, became national news….
UPDATE: We’ve added a statement from one of the principal players, “Yelena,” after the jump.
If you’re tired of reading about the Harvard Law School email controversy — judging from our traffic and comment levels, most of you aren’t, but maybe some of you are — we have some good news. Our coverage is winding down. (We do have a few loose ends to tie up, though, which may take us into the weekend or early next week.)
Before we conclude, we’d like to hear from you, our readers. We’ve heard from the commenters, of course — but many readers never comment, so the commenters aren’t representative of everyone.
Reader polls, which draw much larger participation than the comments, offer a better gauge of audience sentiment. We’d like to poll you on two questions:
(1) Was Crimson DNA’s email racist?
(2) Was Crimson DNA’s email offensive?
Please vote in our two reader polls, after the jump.
Every time you put something into an email, please remember that someone you send it to may hit Forward. If your email makes the case for a biological reason for racial disparities in intelligence, someone might hit Forward and send it to Black Law Student Associations across the nation.
That’s what happened to a Harvard 3L yesterday. We’ll call this 3L CRIMSON DNA. According to our sources, DNA made some controversial comments about race at a dinner held by the school’s Federalist Society.
CORRECTION: This dinner was not a Fed Soc dinner. [FN1]
After the dinner, DNA felt the need to send an email to a few friends clarifying those views. Here’s an excerpt:
I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic. African Americans tend to have darker skin. Irish people are more likely to have red hair.
One of the 3Ls to receive that email, available in full after the jump, was very upset by it. We’ll call this student CRIMSON OUTRAGE. OUTRAGE arranged for the email to be sent out to the Harvard Black Law Student Association list-serv, including DNA’s name and the fact that after graduation, the author will be doing a federal clerkship.
CORRECTION: It now appears that OUTRAGE disseminated the email, several months after the email was originally sent, because she got into a fight with DNA — not because she (OUTRAGE) was offended by the email.
After that, the email went viral, apparently circulating to BLSAs across the country. There are now plans to try to go after DNA’s clerkship….
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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