There are two ways to make diversity mean something to Biglaw partners. The first involves clients caring about whether or not their legal counsel has made a commitment to diversity. The second involves incoming and lateral talent caring about whether or not they go to a diverse workplace.
But for people to make informed decisions about these issues, they need hard numbers.
Thankfully, we’ve got some hard numbers. Thanks to the hard work of the people at NALP and at Building a Better Legal Profession (BBLP), we’ve got some statistics showing that diversity is taking a hit, thanks to recession — but the pain isn’t being spread to all firms evenly.
This is news you can use, especially if you’re considering going to a handful of firms that we’re about to mention….
I hate this holiday. I hated this holiday as a kid for personal safety reasons. As an adult, it’s pretty clear that Halloween has devolved into nothing more than an excuse for girls to dress up as sluts and guys to be racist. That’s what it is, the one day where everybody can get away with their inappropriate or insensitive fantasies (unless you are Prince Harry).
The problem is, not everybody is on the same page. For instance, if I see a person dressed up as a “tribal chieftain” in some kind of get up that would be offensive on any other day of the year, I laugh it off. In exchange for my restraint, when I see a girl dressed up as “Booberella” I’m going to make lecherous comments I’d normally save for when she was out of ear shot. Quid pro quo, mofos; I’ll put my cards away if you lay down yours.
But not everybody thinks like me. So be careful out there this Halloween. For you edification, the Connecticut Employment Law Blog has compiled a list of horrors from Halloween past….
If you spend any time around criminal defense lawyers, progressive lawyers, or people in a black barber shop, you’ll hear the claim that African-American criminal defendants receive harsher sentences than their white counterparts. People have done studies about this, people have written reports about this, people have held conferences about this institutional expression of discrimination.
Rarely do we see anybody trying to do anything about it. There are many reasons this fundamental unfairness persists, but only one of those reasons makes any sense: at the end of the day, nobody wants to be more lenient on a convicted criminal just because that criminal is black. And nobody wants to be more harsh towards a white criminal just because he’s white. So while we have these wide variations in sentencing outcomes, judges can’t re-balance the system from the bench. They have to sentence the criminal in front of them.
But that doesn’t mean judges are blind to the racial injustice of the system. And it doesn’t mean that judges can’t do what they have to in order to make sure that a particular punishment fits the crime.
I’m sure that Judge Joseph Williams of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, will be making all of those arguments shortly. Because he just threw out a plea on the grounds that the prosecutor had been too lenient on the young criminal, just because the criminal is white.
And to be clear, this wasn’t a passing or offhand remark from Judge Williams. Instead, he really laid into the prosecutor in this case…
As I was putting together last Friday’s post about the challenges faced by Duke Law School in recruiting minorities, I had this Gchat conversation with former ATL editor and Duke alum, Kashmir Hill (paraphrased and annotated in various places):
KASH: Good post. But one issue: there are actually a lot of black people living in Durham.
ELIE: Not to pull a Nifong but I don’t think I’ll get a lot of blowback by suggesting Durham isn’t a bastion of racial harmony.
KASH: Yes, there are tensions, but there are a lot of African-Americans who live in Durham.
ELIE: And it’s certainly not a ‘black city’ like Atlanta or anything.
KASH: Yes, but a lot of black people live there. I’d change it.
ELIE: You’re missing the point. The point is whether or not Durham is a welcoming place for blacks.
KASH: But you wrote that there “aren’t a lot of brothers in Durham,” and there are.
ELIE: For Christ’s sake, I’m not saying no black person has ever set foot in Durham. I’m saying that Durham isn’t a black city. Maybe it looks like a black city to white people who get freaked out when they see two brothers on a corner, but it’s not a black city.
KASH: Maybe it looks like a white city to people freaked out by cold, hard demographic statistics.
ELIE: [increasingly annoyed]: Look, NOBODY is going to give me s**t for a throwaway line that’s a segue from a Chris Rock joke to the larger point I’m trying to make. It’s one line in a 1500-word post. Come on.
KASH: [remembering/enjoying that she no longer has to work with me]: Just saying dude… lots of black people in Durham.
350-plus comments, numerous emails, and a boatload of tweets later, it appears that I was wrong. Dead wrong. Much to my surprise, people were very invested in the “but Durham has black friends” argument.
Fair enough. There are a lot of black people living in Durham, and I was wrong to suggest anything else. Next time I want to hang out with a bunch of black people, instead of going to Atlanta or Zimbabwe, I’ll go to Durham, North Carolina. Happy?
Now that I’ve accepted that Durham has a healthy population of African-Americans, can we get back to the discussion about whether or not black people actually want to live there? Because the people at Duke Law School seem to think that Durham is holding them back when it comes to minority recruitment, and I doubt that quoting demographic data is really what prospective minority law students are looking for…
Why? Well, that’s what Duke Law wants to find out. A tipster reports that Duke Law has been sending around a questionnaire to the few minority students currently at the school. It aims to figure out what recruiters should tell minority students thinking about matriculating at Duke Law.
You know what they say — there is no such thing as a stupid question…
We’ve come a long way from the days when federal courts issued orders banning racial discrimination. Now federal judges hand down orders mandating, or at least encouraging, race-based discrimination.
As reported in the American Lawyer, earlier this week Judge Harold Baer (S.D.N.Y.) issued an unusual order. On Monday, Judge Baer directed two firms serving as lead counsel in a securities class action to “make every effort” to staff the case with at least one minority and one woman:
ORDERED that Co-Lead Counsel, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Labaton Sucharow LLP, shall make every effort to assign to this matter at least one minority lawyer and one woman lawyer with requisite experience….
If federal judges can run school districts and prison systems, law firms should be a piece of cake, right?
That’s when this becomes a civil rights issue. Minorities and other low income groups, who overwhelmingly live in the outer boroughs, are far more affected by transit cuts and increasing highway spending than their largely white counterparts who live in wealthier neighborhoods.
Title III of the Civil Rights Act prohibits state and municipal governments from denying access to public facilities on grounds of race, religion, gender, or ethnicity, where as Title VI, prevents discrimination by government agencies that receive federal funding. If an agency is found in violation of Title VI, that agency can lose its federal funding.
While the cuts were not made to be discriminatory, in practice they violate both the above titles.
Bet you never thought infrastructure could be racist. Read more on Alt Transport…
If you are new to Above the Law, you might not remember Yolanda Young. She’s an African-American woman who used to work as a staff attorney at Covington & Burling. Some time ago, she sued the firm for racial and gender discrimination. You can read all about her claims here.
Regular readers of this site are already thinking: “Wait, didn’t that suit get dismissed?” ATL veterans are working on their obese/race-baiting/marine mammal mad libs as we speak.
But before we get to those fresh horrors, you all should know something: a federal judge has reinstated part of Yolanda Young’s case against Covington…
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….
This one is going to get really weird, really quickly. See if you can spot the civil rights violation.
Issue 1: City council of Alexandria, Virginia, approves a permit for a new barbecue restaurant.
Issue 2: The restaurant will have an open-air, gas grille.
Did you see the potential violation? No? Well, you’re just not thinking like a lawyer — or, at the very least, you’re not thinking like an insane person. The Alexandria Gazette Packet reports:
Del Ray Attorney Ed Ablard is challenging the restaurant as a violation of his civil rights. Because the gas-fueled smoker will release particulate matter into the air, his suit charges, his civil rights will be violated.
Is a white man claiming that a barbecue joint is somehow racist towards white people? No, it’s way more crazy than that…
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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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.
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