Minority Issues

Give a hand for Biglaw’s lack of diversity.

There’s no question there’s been some pullback [in pursuing diversity]. There are some firms that look at what they have done, they look at President Obama, and they say we’re there.

Lisa Tatum, president-elect of the Texas State Bar, in remarks given to the New York Times concerning the apparent recession-driven downturn in minority recruitment at Biglaw firms.

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories. This recurring feature will give notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.

Jim Maiwurm, chair and global CEO of Squire Sanders, has more than 30 years of experience as a business and transactional lawyer. His work involves the representation of a diverse range of businesses — from technology startups to Fortune 50 manufacturers — in private equity infusions, public offerings and sophisticated domestic and international acquisitions, dispositions, financings and joint ventures.

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Some of his best friends were ‘takers.’

In 1920, Lydia C. Chamberlain, a woman from Des Moines who moved to Manhattan, donated her $500,000 estate to create a fellowship at Columbia University. The fellowship had a few restrictions. Notably, recipients were not allowed to study “law, medicine, dentistry, veterinary surgery or theology.” Ha. Seems reasonable. Oh, and the recipients had to be from Iowa and had to move back to Iowa after completing their studies.

This kind of dead-hand control should really not be allowed in our modern, global society, but that’s not why the “Lydia C. Roberts graduate and traveling fellowships” is making news today. It’s making news because the other restriction is that recipients of the fellowship have to be white. “Of the Caucasian race” is the exact formulation.

This isn’t just a story about racism, it’s a story about institutional advantages white people have that some of them pretend to not even be aware of…

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Can you imagine only having to listen to black people for 11 minutes for your entire year?

At what point do the Supreme Court’s views on racial equality and tolerance become entirely illegitimate?

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if the only black people the nine justices know are characters they’ve seen in Tyler Perry movies. Sorry… characters the justices have seen in previews for Tyler Perry movies.

The Huffington Post has a damning report on the number of minorities who have even had the opportunity to argue in front of the Supreme Court this Term. It’s embarrassing. But in a couple of days or weeks, these nine people are going to presume to tell me whether or not we’ve achieved enough racial equality to do away with affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act?

It’s unbelievable. It’s unbelievable that these nine people think there is any person of color who should respect them worth a damn…

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Righteous Indignation, our new column for conservative-minded lawyers.

In Houston last weekend, the National Rifle Association held its 2013 national convention. Although Houston is my once (and future) home, I did not attend the convention. I did, however, watch videos of several of the Leadership Forum speakers, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Texas Governor Rick Perry, former UN Ambassador John Bolton, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin. You can watch them online too if you (a) care to hear the NRA’s platform articulated by people with very nice hair, (b) wish to entertain your morbid liberal curiosity, or (c) want to see Glenn Beck get choked with emotion about freedom — again.

Also in the last few days, the website Neighborhood Scout released a list of “the most dangerous neighborhoods in America.” The rankings relied on the violent crime rate per 1,000 residents, 2011 census tracts and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and violent crime statistics from the FBI, U.S. Department of Justice, and local law enforcement agencies. They defined “violent crimes” as murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, and forcible rape. (You know, the legitimate kind of rape.)

Two of the neighborhoods in the top 15 on that list are areas where I have lived, worked, or studied. In one of those neighborhoods, the 2011 violent crime rate was 91.27 per 1,000 residents. A resident there has a one in 11 chance per year of becoming the victim of violent crime.

I was never the victim of violent crime in those parts of town, though I experienced several thefts and one burglary while living nearby. Even so, taking advantage of Texas’s option of a concealed carry permit and a manageably small-caliber handgun seemed like a sensible option to at least consider. Why should I be the only one who thinks a responsible, safety-conscious response to a high-crime urban neighborhood is to purchase and carry a firearm?

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These guys do not look the same to me.

I don’t want to give a lot of burn to this story today, because sadly it is not news when a “Republican” Supreme Court justice takes a shot at the president of the United States. Conservative justices are just allowed to say crappy things about the president — this president — with everybody just accepting their partiality without calling for recusals. And depending on who gets to write what in Fisher, we’re going to have another opportunity to talk about Clarence Thomas’s ongoing jihad against black people in America who are not like him.

But we do have to at least mention Thomas’s latest slam at black people. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Justice Thomas suggested that Obama only got to be president because he was a black man who said things “approved” by the media and elites.

Funny, I’d think that talking about his long dong silver would be exactly the kind of thing elites expected to hear from a black man.

What’s really happening is that Thomas continues to think that people hate him because he’s a black conservative, when really people hate him because he’s a black a**hole

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* It’s springtime, and the nation’s highest court is getting ready to drop some of its biggest decisions yet. If Tolkien had written this, Justice Kennedy would be the one to bear the One Vote. [UPI]

* But for SCOTUS to maintain legitimacy in the eyes of the people, its justices must do battle against a “modern-day tsunami of special interests.” How well are they doing? [National Law Journal]

* To answer that question, let’s look at their record. Political labels aside, thus far, the Roberts court has shaped up to be “the most pro-business court since the mid-1930s.” [New York Times]

* Meanwhile, Justice Thomas has been busy taking shots at President Obama, noting that he always knew the first black president had to be pre-screened by “the elites” and “the media.” [Mother Jones]

* Sometimes even federal prosecutors are willing to take pity upon rich old white men: Mel Weiss, formerly of Milberg LLP, won’t be returning to jail after his foray into DUI territory. [Am Law Daily]

* “Chevron can afford to litigate this case ‘until hell freezes over.’ But [Steven] Donziger can’t.” As it turns out, clients who can’t pay their bills are problematic for John Keker of Keker & Van Nest. [Reuters]

* Penn State Law is continuing with its plans to fleece students at two separately accredited sites, because clearly what the world needs right now is MOAR LAW SCHOOLS. [Centre Daily Times]

* “It’s a fine line society walks in trying to be fair.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke earlier this week on the perils of racial profiling with respect to the Chechen suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. Were we fair here? [Associated Press]

* What keeps in-house counsel awake at night — aside from the tremendous piles of money they’re rolling around in? Apparently they’re expecting an “onslaught” of food labeling and data breach class actions. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Susan Westerberg Prager, known for being the longest-serving dean ever at UCLA School of Law, will take up the deanship at another illustrious institution, Southwestern Law School. [National Law Journal]

* The February results for the New York bar exam are out, and with the highest number of test-takers ever, the pass rate was brutal. We may have more on this later. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Rhode Island just got a little more fabulous. The Ocean State legalized gay marriage yesterday, making it the tenth state to do so, and uniting New England in marriage equality for all. [Bloomberg]

* Back in December, we told you about an alleged “well-dressed” groper — an unemployed lawyer, as it were. Well, now there’s nothing alleged about it, because that guy just pleaded guilty. [New York Post]

This is the problem with allowing only one black person into your little club, be it your country club, your journalistic publication, or your Supreme Court. When you have only one black voice, the brilliant diversity of thought and opinion within the black community can be reduced to Samuel L. Jackson playing Steven, over-laughing and telling you exactly what you want to hear.

Or it can be reduced to one dude on a revenge jihad.

Regardless, if you are only going to let one black person in, it kind of matters who you let in. And that’s why so many people who believe in the advancement of civil rights have such a visceral, negative reaction to Clarence Thomas. It’s not because Thomas isn’t “black enough.” It’s not because he’s a “sell out.” Those are stupid terms that don’t really apply to Thomas anyway.

The problem with Thomas is that despite being the lone black voice in the institution of government that is best positioned to protect minority rights against the vagaries of majority rule, Thomas’s approach to racial justice can best be summed up as, “I got mine, screw the next generation.” The man is so unable to overcome the racism visited upon him that he holds the perverse view that laws that help minorities magically hobble them. Yet he’ll allow majority rule to hobble black people as they see fit. He thinks that the law singles out people as different, as opposed to the somewhat self-evident truth that people define others as different, and then use those distinctions to discriminate. He was hurt by white people thinking that he only got somewhere “because of affirmative action,” but instead of just dealing with it, he now seeks to block the path for others to follow in his footsteps.

Thomas might not want to be a “minority leader,” but he is by simple fact of his important position. Don’t take my word for it, take Justice Scalia’s. Personally, I think that Scalia is more than capable of coming up with his racist BS on his own, but the man just blamed praised Thomas for “leading” his thoughts down a more asinine path.

But it shows why it matters so much who you let in when you only let in one. And it shows why Thomas has been such a colossal failure as a successor to Thurgood Marshall….

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* Today is the 50-year anniversary of the SCOTUS decision in Gideon v. Wainwright establishing the right to counsel in criminal cases, but we haven’t got much to show for it except for a still broken system. [National Law Journal]

* “I am 57 years old. Don’t you think it’s time for things to change?” This from a woman whose desegregation lawsuit is still pending after 48 years in federal court. That’s not funny; it’s absurd. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Anheuser-Busch InBev and the Department of Justice are buying their second round in an attempt to work out their antitrust problems with regard to the company’s planned purchase of Grupo Modelo. [Bloomberg]

* Attention Biglaw partners: if you’re looking for a quick way to boost your profits, just follow SNR Denton’s lead — the firm’s profits rose by 12 percent after trimming the fat of underperforming equity partners. [Am Law Daily]

* A random dude wants to pay Casey Anthony $10K in exchange for her promise never to tell her story. OMG, please don’t take the money! I live for the day when Lindsay Lohan plays you in the movie! [New York Post]

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