I know, I'm a troublemaker. Kathy Kersten of the Star Tribune picks up on the story of the exclusion of the Maslon Edelman law firm from Twin Cities Diversity in Practice. The rationale was that minority attorneys would not want to join a firm that fought affirmative action on behalf of a client. The objection to Maslon was raised by the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, who held a controversial "Cajun Shrimp Boil" in July.
Larry Purdy, a Maslon attorney who helped try the Michigan cases, shakes his head over the double standard at work here. "The idea that any group, particularly a group of lawyers, could be sponsoring an intentionally racially segregated event in 2006 is astonishing to me," he says.As I stated in this post, the irony is that the Michigan Law School ruling (viewed as a victory for affirmative action supporters) was based, in part, on the notion that you need sufficient numbers of minorities in a law class to prove to the majority that minorities don't all think alike. Therefore, it follows that some minorities would be excited to work for Maslon because they would agree with the challenge to affirmative action.
Peter Swanson is a black Twin Cities attorney who was instrumental in bringing this sorry episode to light. He sees a larger problem with the two organizations' views on race.
"They seem to promote a stereotype that all members of certain racial groups think alike," he says. "Apparently, these organizations aren't interested in diversity. They are not interested in recruiting and retaining all minority lawyers -- just the ones with the proper attitudes."
Another irony is that one of the Maslon attorneys in the Michigan case (not Larry Purdy or Kirk Kolbo) represented the state bar association in a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court petition to require attorneys to take sensitivity training.
The Cajun Shrimp Boil homepage link has been removed from the MABL website, but the PDF file is still there as of this posting. There is a google cache and yahoo cache of the homepage link, as well.
Whew. I promise to return to light-hearted stuff soon. Right after Banned Books Week is over at the end of this month.