Diversity in the law firm and the courtroom

by Vault Law Editors | March 30, 2010

  • My Vault

•    A Denver lawyer was publicly censured for inflating his firm’s diversity statistics in hopes of landing a major client. In an effort to qualify for DuPont’s Diverse Legal Supplier Program, open only to firms with at least 50 percent equity ownership by women or minorities, attorney Willie Shepherd claimed that 48.5 percent of the equity partners at what was then his firm, Kamlet Shepherd & Reichert LLP (now Kamlet Reichert LLP), were women and/or minorities, when in fact only 30.1 percent were.*   (Hat tip to ABA Journal)

•    The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against a Michigan man convicted of murder who claimed he’d been denied his Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury drawn from a cross-section of the community. Diapolis Smith, who was convicted of second-degree murder by an all-white jury in 1993, claimed that African-Americans were underrepresented in jury venires, but the Court didn’t find his statistics or arguments persuasive.

•    In other SCOTUS news: The average American would apparently be more comfortable with an openly gay quarterback at the Super Bowl than an openly gay justice on the Supreme Court, according to a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll. While I find it dismaying that 40 percent of the nearly 1,000 people polled would oppose having a gay person sit on the Supreme Court bench, other reports have focused on the positive—that a majority of Americans (55 percent) would support having a gay justice on the High Court. Should the issue come up in the context of a real Supreme Court nomination instead of a random telephone poll, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

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*Research by Vault and MCCA shows that in December 2007 (when Shepherd submitted the inflated numbers), women and minorities represented approximately 20.1 percent of all equity partners among the 278 law firms completed the survey for that year (including most of the Am Law 100 and NLJ 250). Access to this data and more is available through the Law Firm Diversity Database, which will be updated this summer to include the latest statistics for 2009.

- posted by vera

Filed Under: Law

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