Minority Issues

Words are like bullets.

There’s a great episode of 30 Rock where Twofer (the black character who went to Harvard) gets offended when Tracy Morgan (the black character who did not go to Harvard) says “the n-word” to him, colloquially, as black people allegedly say to each other based on movies and music. Twofer threatens to sue Tracy Morgan for workplace harassment, while Tracy argues that it’s okay for black people to use the word. Then there’s a great, great scene where Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and Tracy Morgan try to get Twofer to say the word too.

It doesn’t go well. He says it, Morgan threatens to punch him, and Fey says, “It just sounds so hateful coming from you.” The scene pretty much explains why I personally don’t use the word. I don’t say it around white people, I don’t say it to other black people, I don’t use it when I’m getting a haircut, and I don’t use it around the dinner table with my family at Thanksgiving. It’s not a word that I can “pull off” (I can pull it off in writing when I use it ironically, I think), and I’m totally okay with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who sees intense hypocrisy in the fact that some black people can and do pull it off while no white person (outside of Louie C.K. and maybe Bill Maher) is allowed to try. White people got a 400-year head start in the New World, and black people can deploy an extra noun when listening to Jay-Z. There are greater tragedies.

But the N-word is not a “professional” word, and I don’t think it should be used in that context. It doesn’t matter if you are black or white or from whatever racist planet Rush Limbaugh is from. At the point where you are using the n-word to talk to your employees, you need to help yourself to a thesaurus.

Apparently, there’s a jury of my peers who agrees with me…

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Marni Halasa

* Is Justice Ginsburg, our favorite judicial diva, foiling her own jurisprudential legacy by refusing to retire from the Supreme Court before another president takes office? [Daily Beast]

* Year-over-year, there’s been a double-digit drop in demand for legal services, so now is a great time to start speculating about which firm will be the next to conduct layoffs. [Am Law Daily]

* Don’t despair, the results of the Am Law Midlevel Survey are out, and associates are more satisfied than ever — except for the women. They’re “leaning out,” so to speak. [Am Law Daily]

* New York City (d/b/a Mayor Michael Bloomberg) wants Judge Shira Scheindlin to stay her stop-and-frisk rulings pending appeal, because racial profiling is an effective crime fighting tool. [New York Law Journal]

* If you want to know why law school is three years long instead of two, it’s because back in the day, the T14s of the world were convinced it’d “stop the proles from sullying the image of the bar.” [The Economist]

* In an effort to keep law school deans’ listserv drama and email scandals to a minimum, the American Bar Association just doled out some rules to keep their ivory tower talk in check. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* “[I]f I die because of this, my life will have been worthwhile.” The HSBC whistleblower would face death to talk about the big bank’s money laundering — and to see the lovely Marni Halasa. [Huffington Post]

Late last week, Michael Brown and 24 of his friends and family met at a Charleston, South Carolina restaurant for a farewell party for his cousin. After waiting about two hours for a table, a shift manager at the Wild Wing Cafe told the party to leave. Did I mention these folks were black? Oh, well, they were black. And why weren’t they getting seated?

According to the shift manager, it was because a white patron felt “threatened” by the group, and the manager felt obliged to respect this woman’s delusion by keeping the black diners waiting in the lobby before ultimately kicking them out.

Cue the Chief Justice: “Things have changed in the South.”

Seriously though, so far this ordeal has elicited calls for a boycott, but legal action has been mostly overlooked, which is odd since the story brings back memories of one of the biggest discrimination suits of the last 20 years…

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Kamala Harris

* The Poly Prep alumni who settled their sex abuse suit against the school are going after O’Melveny & Myers for allegedly playing a part in prolonging the litigation by doing what lawyers do best: lying. [Am Law Daily]

* If you’ve got a case up on appeal and you’re like a virgin, giving oral (arguments) for the very first time, then you should probably consider taking a look at the top 10 tips that’ll help you to prepare for it. [The Recorder]

* The California Supreme Court denied petitions from Proposition 8 proponents seeking to enforce a ban on same-sex marriage across the state. Kamala Harris, the country’s best looking AG, approves. [BuzzFeed]

* The Chapman School of Law will change its name after receiving the second-largest donation ever made to a law school. N.B. The donor isn’t a law school graduate, which certainly explains why he has cash to spare. [National Law Journal]

* Notebooks from the most famous law school you’ve never heard of are now on digital display thanks to Harvard Law. Unlike today’s students, Litchfield lawyers had lovely handwriting. [Brainiac / Boston Globe]

* Keep ya head up: Legendary lawyer Roger Rosen, whose clients range from O.J. Simpson to Phil Spector, will hang up his shingle to avoid prosecution for leaking info to Tupac’s killers. [New York Post]

* Just think, if the judge in Paula Deen’s case had permitted counsel to stay discovery, perhaps the celebrity chef wouldn’t have been able to serve up a slice of her piping hot racism casserole. [Daily Report]

* Sure, Lamar Odom allegedly cheated on Khloe Kardashian with a lawyer, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to get divorced. If they do, we’ll be there for the train wreck. [Ministry of Gossip / Los Angeles Times]

I didn’t go to Eric Holder’s big speech at the ABA annual meeting on Monday. I kind of halfheartedly tried to go, but there were a lot of people who wanted to see Holder say something they could’ve read about online hours earlier.

If the ABA had invited Secretary of Education Arne Duncan over to speak about the horrendous abuse of federal funds by purveyors of higher education, I’d have smashed my way in. But in the crush of people trying to get a look at the Attorney General trying to dismantle a big part of the United States “War On Drugs,” I was reminded that regulating legal education is a small part of what the ABA does — and a part that isn’t of great institutional importance to the organization. The ABA wants a seat at the policy table when it comes to big sexy issues of justice and legal services. Preventing member institutions from price-gouging young people doesn’t get its logo splashed across all the major news networks.

So, Eric Holder delivered a big policy address. And later, by which point I was on a plane, Hillary Clinton spoke about how she’ll be speaking about other things as she doesn’t run for president just yet. Holder! Hillary! Marvel at the ABA’s relevance in national policy debates!

Except, they’re not relevant. Holder did make an important speech on Monday, and he couldn’t have found a more supportive group for his take-down of mandatory minimums had he been speaking to potheads in Golden Gate Park. But really, the ABA isn’t going to be any more helpful when it comes to actually convincing Congress than a meeting of the 4:20 club…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Eric Holder Preaches To The Choir At ABA: It’s Nice When Lawyers Think People Will Listen To Them About Laws”

[T]he city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner. In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting “the right people” is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the United States Constitution.

– Judge Shira Scheindlin (S.D.N.Y.), in a ruling declaring that the New York Police Department’s hotly debated stop-and-frisk tactics violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

(Continue reading to see Judge Scheindlin’s glorious 195-page opinion. It’s a legal document that should be on every lawyer’s required reading list.)

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The Higher Education Act of 1965 defines an “HBCU” as “any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans.” Out of 105 current HBCUs, five of them operate law schools: Howard University, Texas Southern University, Southern University, Florida A&M University, and North Carolina Central University. The University of the District of Columbia also enrolls a predominantly black student body, and is home to a law school, but it is not considered an official HBCU by the Higher Education Act of 1965 because it was formed after 1964.

These schools purport to fulfill a noble mission: opening the doors to the legal profession once shut by generations of racial oppression. They offer not only a distinctive purpose in admissions but also a distinctive experience for their students and faculty. Providing access to legal education to historically — and often contemporarily — disenfranchised black men and women is a laudable goal.

Do you know what else is a laudable goal? Getting those same men and women to pass the bar exam so that they can actually practice law. And there’s the rub….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s More Racist? The Trouble With Low Bar Passage Rates At Historically Black Law Schools”

Why do law firms have a tendency to partake in racism despite — theoretically — understanding the laws that should discourage such behavior? Like “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop,” the world may never know.

In the meantime, ATL will be there to talk about it.

Like a law firm whose white management might hold an event for their black associates and serve fried chicken because… you know.

Racism. It’s a thing…

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* The speed (or lack thereof) of justice: The DOJ filed suit against Bank of America, alleging that the bank defrauded mortgage-backed securities investors in 2008. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Sri Srinivasan, the newest member of the D.C. Circuit’s bench, is getting ready to hear his first arguments, while litigants try to commit the spelling of his last name to memory. [Legal Times]

* The LSAT is not to blame for the dearth of minority enrollment in law schools, said a UVA Law professor, and then a Cooley Law professor had to swoop in to slap him down. [National Law Journal]

* After teaming up with Touro, the University of Central Florida is working with Barry on an accelerated degree program. The dean of FAMU is upset. Don’t worry, you’ll get your turn, too. [Orlando Sentinel]

* New Jersey is in no rush to legalize gay marriage. To support their views, officials point out that people with civil unions are just like married couples — except for the married part. [New Jersey Law Journal]

* Meanwhile, a judge in Illinois will decide whether she’ll dismiss a challenge to the state’s gay marriage ban by the end of September. In her defense, early fall is a great time for a wedding. [Daily Herald]

* Belvin Perry, the judge who presided over the Casey Anthony murder trial, may be getting his own Judge Judy-esque television show. Oh, Flori-duh, you never, ever cease to entertain us. [MSN News]

We’ve just entered August, so you know what that means: the start of on-campus interviewing season. If you’re a law student researching firms or a lawyer involved in your firm’s recruiting efforts, check out Above the Law’s law firm directory, where law firms get letter grades in different categories. Law firms might look alike on the surface, but there are very real differences between them, as our grading system reflects.

For example, law firms diverge when it comes to diversity. While every firm gives lip service to diversity, some firms have the goods to back up their claims, while others do not.

Let’s check out the latest diversity rankings, from two different news outlets, to see which firms are truly diverse….

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