I am sure that I join most of you — all of you, I hope — in the pain and distress I feel about the Israeli-Hammas Conflict. Too many innocent people are being killed, maimed and left homeless on both sides, resulting in a shared responsibility that is fueling continued conflict. And the reactions in our country, where people are taking sides in the most heinous ways, makes me sad and yearning for the democracy I once knew when people acted responsibly and demonstrated true moral commitments and compasses.
Some of this heinous behavior has been initiated on law school campuses and is growing day by day. There should be no place on the grounds of institutions of higher learning, especially those teaching the rule of law, for this irresponsible behavior underscored by hatred, and the situation cries out for leaders to step forward to combat it.
According to this article, BigLaw seems to think that responsibility lies with the administrations of law schools, specifically law school deans. See the article for a description of the letter, including excerpts, signed by 24 major law firms.
Although I understand that law schools, specifically those called out in the suggested response by law school deans, have not handled issues of antisemitic behaviors and other hate-related incidents well in the past, the suggestion that it is law school deans who must take the lion’s share of the responsibility to curb the current despicable behavior, makes me cringe.
I barely remember ever meeting my law school dean when I was in law school. Surely, I never had a really meaningful conversation with him. And I expect that is true of many law students today. Once an applicant is accepted into law school, what the administration thinks is not terribly impactful or persuasive to them any more. It does not hold sway with students —– certainly not the way that future employers hold sway with them. And that is precisely why the “pass the buck” attitude by the signatories to this letter is so absurd.
Law firms hold the sway. They control access to the future that so many of the graduates of elite law schools want, and they could make the same kinds of powerful statements of intention that Winston and Davis Polk did when it rescinded an offer to a law student who had participated in the kind of hate speech being demonstrated at campuses today.
I am not naive. The example of Winston and Davis Polk, discussed in the article, caused the kind of push back in the world of large law firms that gives managing partners and management committee members heartburn as they consider the possible negative impact on clients and profits. Profits over responsible and moral behavior — that about says it all. And the same kind of “group think” is also possible when it comes to losing out on the talent ostensibly represented by the “best” recruits from elite law schools. Again, it is all related to profits and greed.
So, I say again, as I have so many times in my books and articles and as a part of the nearly 100 presentations I have made at law schools, law firms and law organizations throughout the country to date: BigLaw needs to choose responsibility over greed.
Simply put: BigLaw needs to ante up! And now is the time.