Monday, January 25, 2010

Just an Observation....

So, a typical day in Shit Law Practice is as follows:
I'd rush down to court to make 9:30 a.m. call. I'd roll in, right in the nick of time, and sit in the jury box (which is where the attorneys sat during call). I would look around at my peers in the jury box and I would notice, more often than not, I was one of a few ladies and I was the only minority. On occassion, I would see another minority. It was usually a black male. We would acknowledge each other as the outsiders with a very professional nod. At that point in my life, I felt like the law profession was an Old Boy's Club. Usually, old and white too. But this mirrored my experience in Law School--at least, in that most of the students were white. At the time, I guess I assumed that minorities didn't really go to law school in large numbers. Afterall, minorities weren't at my Law Firm either. And it was my understanding that there had never been a minority associate prior to myself. So, I took it as it was. Everyone was always pleasant with me. I didn't see it as a problem. I thought it was the way our profession was--mostly white and male.

When I went to a mid-level firm, my days in court were very similar to those days in shit law. I was often the only minority in the room, once again. It was reaffirmation of what I knew to be true.

Then, I went to Big Law. It was a whole new world. There were minorities everywhere. Even people of different sexual orientations and religious practices. I was so enthralled. How could this be? Minorities were seemingly absent from the legal industry from law school to shit law to mid-level firms... and then they appeared magically at the highest level of practice! It was quite a delight.

But then I found out that our presence in big law wasn't so much of a magical occurence. Big Law recruits minorities and women because it affects their Vault numbers. The fact that they went out of their way to recruit people like me made the law firm seem disengenuous. Shouldn't they just hire the best and brightest? I don't want to be given any handouts and the law firm's attempts to color the roster of the big firm made me question whether or not I deserved to be there... or was I just a tally mark for Human Resources?

But I grew to love the diversity of experiences there. And I do admit, it added a little something to the environment that had been lacking at my other firms.

But, eventually, I was laid off from Big Law. Now, I do document review. When I walk into my work room, I find that the majority of my fellow document reviewers are minorities--and female as well. Was this where they had been hiding all along? I see asians and hispanics and blacks and women and lawyers nearly old enough to retire.

I'm not sure if my observations are accurate. I can only speak to what I see. But, if I have seen an accurate cross section of the legal world, what does this say about minorities and women in the law? Maybe we are good enough to be at the top firms for their own purposes... but when the going gets tough, we are the first to get sacrificed.

You would be shocked at how many people who do document review were laid off from Big Law. Contrary to popular belief, it's not a refuge for those who couldn't do better. It seems to be a pergatory for those who did.


  1. It is an open secret that law firms across the country deliberately recruit minorities solely because their clients require it. It has nothing to do with Vault ratings since the overwhelming majority of firms in the country don't care about that metric at all. Instead, any firm that does work for Fortune 500-league clients is forced to meet the "diversity" commitments of their clients. Those clients see legal service providers as vendors just like any other, so when they send out RFQ's, or whatever a given client calls it, they layer in the requirement or "suggestion" that the legal service vendor have a "commitment" to "diversity" just like them. It is sad, really, to see the minorities pulled into the profession and then given a (pretend) seat at the table when those minorities think they were hired for any reason other than the color of their skin. I could go on, but the fact is that having minorities on the payroll is required. Having female minorities is even better, because two-fers draw only one salary while meeting two "diversity" slots. I'm not being snarky, just sharing how it is in the real world.

  2. I can't speak to the experience of minorities in biglaw (I only recall one minority associate at my Biglaw firm--who ended up with a very nice settlement when they forced her out--and none at my lessbiglaw firm that lasted more than a few months), but I definitely did get to the point where, it having become obvious that my firm had absolutely no intention ever to promote a woman, I kind of felt like, "Why the fuck are you even hiring us in the first place? Do you guys actually think that what you're doing looks BETTER than just admitting that you're an old boys club?"

  3. Anonymous and Jadz are spot on. People are smart enough to know when they are the token, and given a pretend seat at the table.

    I think some of the better trial attorneys are minorities - or ethnically white. These people tend to come from working class backgrounds, and have been in an actual fistfight at some point in their lives. This fighter mentality is usually altogether missing from older white guys. They are great at sucking up to power, and cattily going after those "beneath" them. These people are usually dull and boring, i.e. they are about as exciting as a bag of styrofoam peanuts. Hence, why they LOVE transactional work - they get to largely avoid human clients and the courtroom. (They are great on paper, but wouldn't even know where to sit in a courtroom.)

    For example, Iowa is a lily-white state, and the best litigator is probably Alfredo Parrish, a black man. Too bad the market is so damn saturated, and the cost of law school is so high. This means the chances of success are slim. This precludes many from going solo, in the first place.

  4. Nando, have you ever been in a fist-fight?

  5. I concur with "Angel's" and many of the other folks' observations. I am quite curious as to which minority group that "Angel" belongs to. I was under the impression that she was white. And, in much of today's professional environments, including that in the lower to middle levels....the entitlement minded, princess of the world...the white or jew the ruination of the lives and careers of all who are not they. At the top, the white or jewish male stil runs things. The black man is scorned. Why have a black man when you can do a 2fer with a black or, more preferably, asian female?

    Angel, are you of the model minority extraction?...Meaning asian????

    You don't strike me as black. You strike me as white, asian or half white mixed with something else.

    Regardless, law is for the Preferred, Protected and or seriously Connected classes ranked as follows from top to the bottom:

    1. Elitist, priviledged and protected Jewish and or WASPY males...
    2. Elitist, priviledged and protected Jewish and or WASPY females...
    3. Elitist, priviledged and protected Jewish and or WASPY gay males and females...
    ..........All others including particularly straight black men, psuedo white ethnic, blue collaresq, straight males, black females and fat, unattractive overly nice or cunty white chicks might as well have the plague. No room at the lawland inn for them.

    Occasionally the elite will allow various token minorities and foreigers in but only as much as their corporate clients will force them to. Law is a disaster for most who are not members of the PPC's and should be shunned by all nice, decent folk. Law is for the devils.

  6. PS To Angel: if you were not born a PPC WASP or Jew and are not hot and, god forbid, born black...and then went to DID NOT "do everything right!".

    God bless you child.

  7. I don't want to toot my horn, but I'm okay to look at. I can't tell you what minority I am because I don't want to be identified.

    I don't condone the anti-semitism and racism in your post... but I respect your opinion.

  8. I really don't think its racist to correctly point out what tribes' members often dominate the names that sit atop the letterheads of most law firms.....The names of those who make the decisions that cause you to make the observations about the complexion of those in most of today's lawland....The names of the wicked who make lawland a living hell for most law grads.

    Most of those who control law are the ones who can be accurately called racist, classist and elitist and to call them what they are is not at all racist. Especially when their racisim, classism and elitism, as your observations point out, are so blantantly on display everyday in nearly all of today's lawland.

    You seem to have done rather well in your ascent from shitlaw to midlaw to biglaw so I figured that you must be reasonably attractive. Do you think that you would have made your ascent had you still been a woman, but one who is not attractive? Or had you been, even worse, a relatively unattractive man? Or even worse, a straight black or white man with no benefit of pedigree?

    Your observations, as on point as they are, seem to contradict the usual mentality of most women who think that they somehow rose in law through merit, when in fact, as is most often the case, they only were given the momentary opportunity to flourish due to their possession of the "Golden Pussy Pass".

    When was it that you realized the true nature of your wicked lawland overlords and tolerance of your presence? Was it only AFTER biglaw spit you out after initially allowing you into their inner-sanctums through their patently racist, blantant temporary tokenism? Or did you realize the nature of the game and the devils who control it beforehand? Apparently you started to smell it a bit in lawschool and in shit and mid law. But, you seem not to have figured it out totally at those points.

    When was it that you started to see that you likely rose not through merit so much as the devils' sexism, racism and tokenism? Or are you, like most professional women, still deluded that you could have only achieved through merit?

    Whatever the case may be, it seems that at some point, whenever that may have been, you have taken your head out of the sand to a limited degree, and finally viewed the world and its overlords as it is. That is very uncharecteristic of most of those who are of the allegedly "fairer" gender who most often refuse to see things as they are. And for that, I must commend you even though you still seem to have your head in the sand regarding the indentity of those who control law and your reluctance to call a spade a spade.

  9. I have to disagree with the erroneous premise that people are generally smart enough to know that they are tokens. I has been my real world observation that most have no clue as to their tokeness until the man forces them out. Especially for women. They mostly really have no clue until its too late, if ever. Most tokens (especially women) think that they are "special" and that they deserve their status through merit when in fact, they really have no clue about what they are doing. They are most often not remotely competent to occupy the slot that the man gave to them. And, usually, even before their incompetence is blantantly displayed, the man marginalizes such tokens, so as to minimize any damage or exposure to the clients.

  10. I am fully aware that I'm a token. I sat second chair in a federal trial where our clients, the landlords, were accused of violating the FHA. I was told outright, that my look would bode well with the jury. So, I realize that decisions are not made on merit.. but on other factors. But I will not say that I wouldn't be deserving of a chance if merit were a consideration. I think that the hegemony prefers those that it knows.

  11. Very impressive, your self awareness is. Sorry for the Yoda speak. Hegemony???...Your use of the world indicates that you might be of some sort of Carribbean descent? Or other foreigner. Regarless...I am impressed. At least you figured it out. Most don't.

  12. by the way, what the heck is a psuedo-white?

    Evan Lysacek perhaps?



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