Paul L. Caron

Monday, December 7, 2009

NY Times: Is it OK for Law Firms to Discriminate Against Conservative Law Students?

New York Times, The Ethicist: Taking on the Unlikables:

While interviewing law students for jobs as paid summer interns and full-time associates for my firm, I noticed several had résumés listing their activities in the Federalist Society. Some of my partners have conservative views similar to those of the society, but I do not. These students’ politics would not affect their professional function, but my review is meant to consider their judgment and personality (though I don’t need to give reasons for the assessments given). May I recommend not hiring someone solely because of his or her politics? NAME WITHHELD, GREENWICH, CONN.

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The following question was posted to the NY Times' resident ethics expert: While interviewing law students for jobs as paid summer interns and full-time associates for my firm, I noticed several had résumés listing their activities in the Federalist So... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 7, 2009 12:33:26 PM


Peter: It's a free country, hire who you want.

Peter, we're no longer free in hiring. If a company ends up hiring all white males, even if they are the most qualified, you can be sure that someone's going to go after them for discrimination against blacks and women.

Posted by: Woody | Dec 8, 2009 7:09:43 AM

Well, I would probably discriminate against a lateral hire who was active in the ABA.

I dropped out of the ABA in 1992, when, in the heat of a Presidential race, the ABA had Hillary Clinton introduce Anita Hill (the keynote speaker).

The fact that the ABA adopted its infamous pro - Roe v. Wade position at that same conference in San Francisco made dropping out an even easier decision.

I joined the Federalist Society several years ago and have been able to attend a couple of conferences.

It has a novel concept called "debate".

Each debate is moderated by a Federal Judge (frequently someone who has been on a S. Ct. short list at some point).

It isn't an echo chamber of conservatives.

I plan to drop out of my state and local bar associations this year, because they oppose letting citizens have a true vote on appellate judges.

I trust citizens more than I trust committees of politically-connected lawyers in selecting our appellate judges.

Posted by: molonlabe28 | Dec 8, 2009 7:04:51 AM

It's a free country, hire who you want.

Posted by: peter | Dec 8, 2009 6:12:39 AM

Probably 80% of that Ethicist guy's columns over the years have come to the wrong conclusions. It's uncanny.

Posted by: Chester White | Dec 8, 2009 5:34:58 AM

It'a always OK for libs to discriminate - and name call and lie and steal - I got that from Eric Holder

Posted by: bandit | Dec 8, 2009 5:34:16 AM

It's amazing how the 2 big lies of the 20th Century have evolved to be conventional wisdom...

Big lie #1: Nazi's were a right wing based political movement (ummm..What part of National Socialist Workers Party sounds like a conservative movement?)

Big lie #2: Jim Crow laws sprang from the Republican/conservative movement...JCL's came out of the Southern DEMOCRATIC Party's attempt to limit the rights of minorities...

That being said, they NYT has a history of encouraging discrimination against the conservative movement...(damning with faint praise anyone?) and this article is not exception.

Posted by: Rich Vail | Dec 8, 2009 5:17:46 AM

"the party that started the KKK"

Funny how the Republicans are usually smeared as racists these days, given the original relationship between the KKK and Democrats (essentially the same as the IRA and Sinn Fein), and the fact that the leaders of the civil rights movement in the 60s were all Republicans.

Posted by: Some Guy | Dec 7, 2009 11:33:54 PM

Why would any bright conservative attorney want to work for a Liberal Law Firm?

Posted by: CrypticGuise | Dec 7, 2009 4:24:33 PM

Bainbridge suggests that liberals discriminate against conservatives but he won't retaliate by doing the same against liberals (presumably explaining why he is on the hiring committee). The problem with this implicit or explicit collaboration is that it ensures that the problem will continue. I think that conservatives in the law schools have to decide if they are going to fight back effectively or if they prefer to cling to a "we're persecuted white males" pseudo-minority status; my instinct is that the larger number prefer the latter and hence become complicit in the process.

Posted by: mike livingston | Dec 7, 2009 4:05:27 PM

I noticed that this Ethicist refers to "Tea Party crackpots" who "threaten violence against their political foes". Kenneth Gladney, anyone? The NYT's so-called ethicist isn't very ethical at all, it seems. Out of one side of his mouth, he talks about the importance of respectfully disagreeing with someone whose politics he doesn't like, yet out of the other side he reveals his own prejudice causes him to believe and publish falsehoods denigrating people whose politics he doesn't like. Classic New York Times, classic old Leftoid Media.

Posted by: David Preiser | Dec 7, 2009 2:59:48 PM

I'd look at the bumper stickers on the students' cars and eliminate those students with Obama stickers. Really, how bad can one's judgment get?

Posted by: Woody | Dec 7, 2009 2:39:52 PM

Wow! So Democrats, the party that started the KKK, are a bunch of discriminating bigots?

Posted by: Borris | Dec 7, 2009 2:36:46 PM

I think it's important to note that the ethicist said no. Your headline sort of hints at the idea that the NYT was at some level supportive of the idea.

Posted by: Sean | Dec 7, 2009 2:19:06 PM

The questioner (who wound up rejecting the Federalist Society members) acted unethically in failing to disclose (which I assume from the text was the case) to his partners (some of which he acknowledges were similarly conservative) that he was rejecting applicants based on their conservatism. It is a fair assumption that when these conservative partners entrusted the interviewer with the responsibility to screen for "personality and judgment," they did not expect him to treat *their own* "personality and judgment" (as reflected by their politics) as inferior.

The man is an arrogant, dissembling, thin-skinned weasel, an equally poor reflection on lawyers and liberals alike.

Posted by: Thomas | Dec 7, 2009 2:11:43 PM

I don't know if politically motivated hiring practices are ethical (I feel certain they are illegal), but I would never knowingly retain the services of a lawyer who was a Democrat or statist. But I'm the customer.

Posted by: Peg C. | Dec 7, 2009 1:54:35 PM