Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (11-17-06)

It's open thread Friday. Turn the comments section below into your own mini-blog.

One possible topic is the old shrimp boil controversy, which is updated in this week's Minnesota Lawyer:

Maslon application rejected by Twin Cities diversity group

TCDIP is hoping to put a controversial episode behind it.

Barbara L. Jones : November 13, 2006

The Twin Cities diversity group that Maslon, Edelman, Borman and Brand wanted to join has made it official: It won’t have the Minneapolis law firm as a member.

Twin Cities Diversity in Practice (TCDIP) — a consortium of law firms and corporations in the Twin Cities established to promote diversity in the legal profession — voted on Nov. 1 to deny Maslon’s membership application.

* * *

The story discusses how the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers (MABL) objected to Maslon's application because three lawyers from the Maslon firm represented the plaintiffs in a challenge to the University of Michigan's affirmative action policies. More on the controversy here, here and here.

Last week, a large majority of voters in Michigan approved a ballot initiative that essentially completes the partial victory created by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Racial preferences in state employment, university admissions , and public contracting will be prohibited by the proposal.

Here is the November 1, 2006 announcement of the decision from TCDIP:

For several months, the Diversity in Practice board has deferred a vote on the application by Maslon, Edelman, Borman and Brand to join our organization, while we reviewed our membership criteria and then considered the Maslon application against those criteria. The application has been very controversial, with extensive and passionate arguments aired on both sides.

At its monthly meeting today, the Diversity in Practice board voted not to accept Maslon’s application. The reasoning of the majority votes varied, but all were focused on the impact on our ability to accomplish our mission. Diversity in Practice is not a sanctioning body. Non-admission is not a censure; it is simply a decision that admission would impede our ability to accomplish our mission. This decision is not intended to be a comment on the Maslon firm’s commitment to diversity.

The Diversity in Practice board also offered to participate in a discussion with the Maslon firm moderated by a neutral mediator provided by the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA). We believe our mission — to attract, recruit, advance and retain attorneys of color in the Twin Cities legal community — will be well served by candid dialogue about the challenges before us. We thank the MSBA for their invitation.

We understand that this decision will not be popular among some of you, and would have been equally unpopular among others had it gone the other way. We hope everyone will agree that the overall mission of this organization is too important to abandon over any single disappointment.

We believe Diversity in Practice has made remarkable progress in the past year. We hope that the time, analysis and publicity that have been devoted to the membership issue can now be turned to advancing our mission. We ask all of you who value this organization and cherish its mission to reaffirm your commitment to action in the coming year.

Thank you for your continued membership in our organization and your commitment to widening the circle of opportunity in the Twin Cities legal community.

Here are the new membership criteria:

Criteria for membership in TCDIP group

(1) An applicant for membership in Diversity in Practice must be an employer of lawyers. The applicant may be a private law firm, a corporation with at least one lawyer, or other organization that employs lawyers.

(2) The applicant must be committed to advancing the mission of Diversity in Practice, which is to attract, recruit, advance and retain attorneys of color in the Twin Cities legal community; and

(3) The board shall determine that admission of the applicant will enhance the effectiveness of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice in the pursuit of its mission.

Got that?


Blogger Aaron B. Solem said...

So, let's say we have something similar to MCRI on the ballot in MN, and two individual attorneys from a law firm actively campaign for it (or at least vocally support it). Does TCDIP reject that firm as well?

November 17, 2006 8:41 AM  
Blogger Peter said...


Their justification (in the recent Pioneer Press article and elsewhere) that prospective lawyers would balk at a consortium that included a firm (that had three lawyers who opposed affirmative action) is interesting. Given that 30% of minority males in and 18% of minority females voted FOR the MCRI, at least some of the attendees at a minority job fair would be delighted to work for Maslon.

Of course that is silly. You don't choose a city (or two twin cities) based on what one law firm does or doesn't do.

November 26, 2006 11:00 PM  

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