Crushing of Dissent or Just a Rumor?
Supposedly the Esteemed Law Firm of Sherman and Steerling has fired a Summer Associate for questioning affirmative action. I say supposedly, because at this point my source is a message board post. Not exactly the most authoratative source, so believe at your risk. For the curious, here it is:
Just heard from a friend who's summering at Shearman & Sterling that they fired a summer with a week to go in the program for his comments at a diversity lunch. Apparently there was some speaker extolling the benefits of affirmative action, and this guy argued that it dumbed down institutions.
Anybody else heard anything about this?
Referral courtesy of JD2B
UPDATE: Still unable to confirm officially, but things are getting strange. At the popular law school student site of xoxohth.com, a huge thread on the subject has started with many people claiming that not only they are Sherman Associates, but also they were there.
There seems to be versions of what happened illustrated by two seperate posts. Keep in mind that I cannot vouch for the veracity of this, and this remains somewhere between gossip and probable on the realm of plausibility:
Date: August 13th, 2004 12:33 AM
Author: Andrew from LI (why don't you purify yourself in the waters of lake minnetonka)
Subject: for your edification
"Just heard from a friend who's summering at Shearman & Sterling that they fired a summer with a week to go in the program for his comments at a diversity lunch. Apparently there was some speaker extolling the benefits of affirmative action, and this guy argued that it dumbed down institutions.
Anybody else heard anything about this?"
"This is definitely legitimate, and there is a lot more to the story (half of it personally witnessed and the other half on good authority). I don't want to defend the firing, but I understand why it happened, as do the other 100+ summers who got offers (everyone, I believe, except this guy).
First, it was an important client who gave the talk at which the now-infamous summer speech occurred. This occurred in front of about 150 people, including the senior partner and hiring partner, among others. In arguing against the value of diversity, he stated that the CIA's attempt to diversify created a deterioration in the quality of its agents which ultimately led to 9/11. Needless to say, this did not make the partners happy.
As rumor has it, the summer was given an opportunity to write a letter of apology to the client after the lunch, which he refused to do. That is when he was told to clean out his desk.
But this was not the first time he had spoken out at diversity events. There were 2 talks prior to this one at which he gave lectures of approximately 3-5 minutes each, often coming prepared with notes. In addition, when a New York state judge came to the firm to talk about death penalty legislation, the summer referred to one of his opinions as a sham and intimated that he was a political puppet, really pissing him off.
It's not that the guy was so ballsy that he thought he could get away with anything; it's that he didn't know he was doing anything improper. That's the kind of judgment I think people fear most, since you can't correct it.
I have my own views on these issues, and parading clients in front of summers to create a love fest out of a contentious issue may not be the best idea. But the ability to follow the golden rule of "don't f--k up" is about all that is asked of summers, and it is ignored surprisingly often."
For a different view, see this post:
Date: August 13th, 2004 3:23 PM
i spoke to some friends at shearman and they disagreed on whether his comments were offensive/appropriate or not.
One said they were, and that he went on for too long, another said that he sounded very persuasive, and made good points that seemed perfectly appropriate for this event.
One thing they both agreed on is that he didnt fight with the speaker or interrupt him. He asked a question (that was a little long), along with specific studies cited (a stanford study and a yale study), and didnt respond or continue after that. One friend told me that it was all phrased in the form of a question and never specifically mentioned his opinion.
In my opinion the firm went a little far. It was supposed to be an open discussion about diversity.
As long as he didnt yell or argue, and didnt say anything racist, the firm should not have fired him.
So what really happened? Beats me. But it looks like that this is going to get really messy soon.