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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Fulbright & Jaworski Partner Drops N-Word in Interview; Sky Falls

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Apparently a Fulbright & Jaworski Partner on a recruiting trip to Duke let the dreaded N-word fly in a story he or she was telling to a student. As might be expected, except by the offending F&J Partner apparently, the shit has hit the proverbial fan.

Duke Law Dean Kate Barlett sent out a campus-wide e-mail which found it’s way to legal tabloid Abovethelaw.com. The letter contained, in relevant part –

Upon learning about this episode, pursuant to the Law School’s Anti-discrimination Policy, the Career Center staff immediately asked the student if they could approach the employer to investigate the incident. The student agreed, and Tia Barnes called the recruiting manager to say that this was a serious situation that needed to be promptly addressed.

The hiring partner called back within minutes, clearly upset at the behavior of his partner. Shortly thereafter he reported back that he raised the issue to the highest levels of the firm, that the firm was taking internal measures dealing with the individual involved, and that the offending lawyer will not be permitted to return to Duke to meet with students.

The offending lawyer admitted his use of the word in question and reportedly recognizes that it was wrong to do so. The firm also sent an official apology to the student through us, as the student wished to remain anonymous.

As part of its remediation efforts, a partner at the law firm has asked to come to Duke to meet with students to describe the incident, to apologize to the community publicly, and to explain the measures that the firm has taken.

AbovetheLaw.com: Breaking: Fulbright & Jaworski Partner Drops the N-Bomb During A Recruiting Interview! (check the comments for a very enlightening discussion)

This is an excellent opportunity for a little mental exercise I think. Take a moment, whip out your legal pad and list in order of social horrificness the things that the F&J Partner could have done or said that would gotten him into more hot water. Confine your brainstorm to things which are not illegal. Ready? Go!

……

So how you doing yet? Got much? Me neither. Aside from denying the holocaust, professing allegiance to Al-Qaeda, or revealing that his middle name is Osama-Hussein there’s not much he could have done to earn more moral approbation than to drop the ‘n-bomb.’ Now there’s more to be learned of the context in which the admitted n-bomb dropping took place, but since when has that mattered once the internet gets its dander up?

More on this later…

I just noticed Fulbright is flashing its NAACP-Houston’s President’s award on its home page now. I got to wonder if that was there yesterday. What do you say google cache? Ouch, yesterday it was a little different.

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Category: lawyers behaving badly, Texas, Texans & the Law

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2 Responses

  1. Hans Bader says:

    On closer inspection, the allegations of racism made against the law firm turned out to be baseless. But you’d never know that from the busybodies at Duke University, who ignored the context in which the remark occurred, in a fit of political correctness, and chose to inflame the controversy instead by putting out their one-sided spin on what happened.

    Fulbright & Jaworski was pressured by activists at Duke University to apologize merely because of the fact that one of its partners, as a way of illustrating the depth and prevalence of racist attitudes in the past (and not as a manifestation of racism on his own part), recounted to a Duke student how the N-word was used in the legal system in the racist past.

    The idea that using the N-word regardless of circumstances automatically amounts to racial “discrimination” is illogical and is contrary to court precedent.

    Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes observed in Towne v. Eisner (1918) that “a word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.”

    Court rulings under the First Amendment recognize this fact. There are no forbidden words that the government can ban regardless of the circumstances in which they are used.

    For example, in Hardy v. Jefferson Community College (2001), the federal appeals court in Cincinnati held that an instructor could not be terminated just for discussing the “N” word and how it was historically used to promote racism.

    The law firm explains how the N-word came to be used in the following communication from its executive committee:

    “Dear Colleagues:

    Because you may hear about or be asked about a recent situation at a law school where attorneys participated in training interviews of students, we want to bring it to your attention. One of our lawyers recounted a story about Leon Jaworski’s defense of an African-American man in a murder trial in Waco, Texas in the 1920s. During the retelling, in an effort to display the depth of racial hostility that Jaworski and his client faced, the attorney used a racial term that characterized what the district attorney in the case said about the defendant. After review of the situation, all involved concluded that such terms, although recounted without ill intentions, are inappropriate for our firm, which values diversity and strives for inclusiveness.

    We are addressing the situation, and Steve Pfeiffer and other senior partners are en route to meet with the students. One of the other attorneys who participated in the training session acted immediately when the incident was called to his attention and responded with an electronic letter of explanation and appropriate apology. Any inquiries should be directed to the firm’s Hiring Partner, Gerry Lowry.

    Executive Committee”

    Thus, I see no sign that the N-word was used in a racist or discriminatory manner, much less that it rose to the level of discrimination in recruiting.

  2. Peter SanFilippo says:

    Less than a week ago , I wastold about the following incident –At a denny’s restauranrt , in Ft. Wirth , Texas a group of black young folks -Guessing the age would be 18 to 23 9give or take– There were three blacj young men and two black girls . They used the F word and the h word consistantly and seemed to look around in defiance . Did they do anything illegally or is that OK for Blacks ? Respond , please

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