Diversenfreude Strikes Ropes & Gray
May 17, 2011, 02:42 AM
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The latest "diversenfreude" legal action is aimed at the venerable Ropes & Gray, a Boston law firm accused of racistly denying a black lawyer partnership. (Potential) Lawsuit of the Day: Another Discrimination Claim Against Ropes & Gray By David Lat, Above The Law Blog.

So far, the EEOC hasn`t thought much of the complaint, but did toss the lawyer, John H. Ray III, a bone by finding that his dismissal from the firm was in retaliation for filing a complaint with the EEOC. Ray, a Harvard Law graduate, is now cleared to file a discrimination lawsuit against the firm.

What`s funny about the case—and what qualifies the situation for "diversenfreude" status—are the impressive lengths Ropes & Gray has gone to in order to avoid charges of "racism". Ray was actually the first black attorney whose partnership candidacy was rejected by the firm. Ropes & Gray is No. 12 on the list of the top 20 best firms for "lawyers of color." And black lawyers statistically stand a better chance of getting hired after the call-back interview than white lawyers.

In other words, Ropes & Gray has been putting in a lot of billable hours toward "non-racist" status... an effort that does seem to have helped stoke the EEOC`s skepticism. By a sort of "protection racket" reasoning, this may have paid off: faced with a truly bad black candidate, the firm had a little capital to spend down and could safely fire him.

But it all comes at a cost. For one, we`ll never know which white lawyers had to suffer a rejection letter so that Ropes & Gray could preen as "non-racist." We`ll never know the cost to the firm and its clients of promoting along less egregious—but still not excellent—black lawyers. Meanwhile, although their litigation position looks secure, they`re still dragged through the mud and distracted by the attention.

(J. Phillippe Rushton confirmation note: the only other member of Ray`s firm class to make partner was Khue Hoang

View her picture, read her bio, and see what I mean. She reminds me of the moniker attached to another prestige firm, Davis Polk & Wardwell, which was known as "the teahouse", because of all the Asian female attorneys running around. Asian females are a good way to get diversity credit without sacrificing intelligence or work quality.)

Radio host James Edwards observes that no matter how hard whites try, they`re never going to dodge the "racism" charge. It just comes with being white. I doubt any Ropes & Gray partners listen to his show, but they might learn something.