Today’s depressing internet news for black people is that they’re not going to make partner at a large law firm in a major city. Well, black people probably already know that, but a new study making the rounds today emphasizes that point for those who haven’t been paying attention.
African-Americans make up only 1.9% of the partners at the nation’s top 100 law firms, according to American Lawyer. That number has barely changed in five years. If you are an African-American woman, you should probably not even bother. Only one of every 170 top law firm partners is a black female.
In general, the legal profession is a bad place for black people. Only 4.2% of American attorneys are black, compared with 7.1% of doctors and 8.5% of financial managers. So if you are a rich person, you are basically more likely to have a black person fix your heart so you can live long enough to spend all the money he’s made for you then you are to have him write your will.
Why is this? We can’t know for sure, but in law, advancing in your career has more to do with what white people think of you than anything else…
The Dewey debacle is unfolding in real time on this and other sites. People’s lives are being shattered as a firm gets shuttered. It is not the first, and certainly not the last, time that a major law firm with thousands of employees will disappear into so much ether. I look back on my OCI days, and can rattle off several former NYC firms that have either merged into unrecognizability, or disappeared like Dewey is in the process of doing.
Likewise, not far from where I now sit, is the shell of Eastman Kodak — a company that built a large part of this town, and will likely become a shameful case study in the annals of business school textbooks. And yesterday, news went out that my own company is beginning another round of VRIF severance offers.
Regardless of whether you are sitting comfortably in-house, collecting pay from Biglaw, or wondering how in Hell you’re going to find a summer job, news like that mentioned above is disquieting. The main reason is that there isn’t anything that can be done. One day you’re employed, and then, well, you may not be. And there is really no place for schadenfreude in a “there but for the grace of God” economy. Careers can be dissolved as quickly as Dewey.
So, when you are forced to enter an applicant pool of thousands of other attorneys looking for a break in a seemingly unsolvable code of hiring, what can you do to set yourself apart? One possible strategy that has become a hot button issue in the past days is to claim minority status on your application. The obvious dilemma that you face as applicant number two thousand twenty-eight is whether to check such status if your lineage may or may not support the claim….
If this guy wins the Republican nomination, we can agree that the Tea Party was totally overhyped, right?
* So, just so we’re all clear, Republicans running for President are no longer on board with the Voting Rights Act. Happy Martin Luther King Day. [Election Law Blog]
* It’s not like there are no more voting issues where we might want to have federal oversight of state laws that affect the electoral power of minorities in states that have been historically opposed to such things. For instance, where do your prisoners live for the purposes of redistricting? [New York Times]
* I’ll tell you what happens in a world where college kids can “major” in law and take the bar, yet law schools still exist: law schools will continue to operate as they have been, and “law majors” will be the new “must get” credentials for paralegals. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Every time I ask this question, I feel like a horrible person. But it’s a legitimate question: what are the legal ramifications when a race car driver dies while performing a sport that is only interesting because there’s a chance somebody will die? [Legal Blitz]
* Why won’t Mitt Romney show us his taxes? We just want to be envious, Mittens! Feed our envy. [Going Concern]
* I think I should be nominated for this public interest award. Nobody has done more to prevent lawyers from being taken advantage of than me. [American Constitution Society]
* Breaking down the Joe Paterno interview. [Atlantic]
* Now these are some guys that believe in the gold standard. [MyFoxDC]
* As Copyranter said when he emailed this link about the iPoo: “C&D coming in 3, 2, 1…” [Copyranter]
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….
It seems like such a simple proposition: if a police officer stops you, he has to have a reason. He doesn’t have to have to be right. He doesn’t even need a particularly good reason. He just needs a legitimate reason.
And the reason can’t be based on the color of a person’s skin.
Why is this simple rule so hard for our law enforcement officers to understand? Why do they resist it? Why do they get defensive when civilians ask them to state their legitimate reasons (if any) for pulling somebody over? Why do police act like the motivations of the police are beyond questioning? Why can’t they answer a direct question about their reasons for pulling people over?
The reason can’t be based on the color of a person’s skin.
Why is it so hard for some police officers and administrators to accept that? Why does the Department of Justice need to send threatening letters to the LAPD, reminding them that they have to actually investigate claims of racial profiling and harassment?
Ra the Sun God could be seeking revenge on the Hebrews
The new school year is off to a rocky start at Cardozo and NYU Law. One school is dealing with a rash of anti-Semitism, while the other can’t seem to execute basic building maintenance.
If you had to guess which school was dealing with hate speech against Jews, you’d guess Cardozo, right? Since Cardozo is the law school for Yeshiva University, it would be at least logical if anti-Semites focused their energies there. But you’d be wrong; never assume hate-mongers are able to form and execute logical thoughts. This year’s early anti-Semitism is happening at NYU, as the New York Post reports:
The NYPD Hate Crimes task force is investigating an anti-Semitic scrawl at NYU Law.
Cleaning staff found “Damn Orthodox Jews” scrawled in a first-floor men’s room at 40 Washington Square South at 1:45 p.m. Monday.
Cops are poring over surveillance videos.
Forty Washington Square South is the address of the main NYU Law building. It’s probably not the #1 address where Orthodox Jews gather to learn about the law, but expecting a graffiti-scrawling hatemonger to be able to grasp even basic facts is like asking a dog to know not to lick his ass in public.
Meanwhile, the New York City law school most strongly associated with Orthodox Jews is dealing with an altogether different kind of oppression….
Unusual, you say? Well, when you click on that link, aren’t you expecting something really outside the box? Maybe they picked a CEO with no private sector experience? Maybe they picked a CEO who used to be in the CIA? Maybe they picked Triumph the Insult Comic Dog? You know, something “unusual.”
But no, here’s the interesting twist to this story:
Detroit-based firm Lewis & Munday, which was founded in 1972 by David Baker Lewis and two African-American partners, named partner Blair Person as its new president and CEO this month… some might find it curious to learn that Person is white.
That’s it? A law firm elected a white guy to be CEO. That’s news? That’s unusual?
Wait, let me back up a second. Aside from the fact that black people founded the place, what the hell makes this an “African-American” law firm? I don’t think you’d see a headline in 2010 calling Wachtell a “Jewish” law firm. And what in God’s name is unusual about black owners selecting a white person to run their business? In short, what the hell is going here?
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
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