did anyone hear about the Ropes Gray associate (POC/female) leaving the firm after circulating a blazing email condemning the firm with her violent racial experience during her time?

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The story in a nutshell: a 3rd year black female associate gave her notice at Ropes Gray. She wrote a farewell email, as most do, but her email was not a cheerful goodbye. Instead, she decided to lay out (bullet points and all) the years of micro- macro- and all kind of racist aggression she experienced at Ropes. Including, but not limited to, instances where she felt her white colleagues made her feel like the “angry black woman” whenever she spoke up or asked questions and shot her down when she requested work (but yet, said she was unenthusiastic and difficult to staff). She also mentioned how her minor mistakes on first drafts would be exacerbated and when her white counterparts would make minor mistakes, they would receive less heat and more understanding. The best thing she said is that firms love to promote Diversity and Inclusion and some are successful in achieving diversity but they forget the “inclusion” piece. Instead, a POC associate enters the picture and the firm/white colleagues does everything it can to drive them out (rejecting their very essence, culture, tone, and being).

I seriously commend her for speaking out. It’s sad that this is happening and majority of POC’s in law firms have experienced it in some form or another.

likeuplifting

I didn’t but I want to

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Same.

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The premise of the response epitomizes the crux of the complaint --- "The firm 'I KNOW,' i.e. my experience is GREAT. So I'm sorry to hear about your experience, but my version is more valid.  Something therefore must be wrong with your perspective."  The implication is: you in fact must be an angry black woman.  It is a tautology, a no win situation for the member of any group without a critical mass of representation.
Well, it is fantastic that things are working out for you SO nicely at this firm "Julie." Sucks for you "JOrdan."  Maybe next time YOU should DO something about it, or just stick it out. The implication being, you must be lazy and just a complainer.
Why would this exiting associate do this? Because it was her only chance to feel heard. Despite the obvious risk of repercussions, she took the risk so long as she finally felt heard. Settling in a suit generally involves an NDA.

likesmart

Jordan Bryant has a Twitter where she has a track record of strongly expressing her views on a variety of political issues - doesn’t seem like she’s afraid of making her views known and that she’s not being heard!

Had I written the response I would have begun with the difficulty of addressing this issue in the context of a departure, thoroughly acknowledged the feelings of the person exiting, emphasized how much weight these issues carry with the firm, stated that these issues, in the context of today, clearly require a great degree of vigilance and that few, if any organizations, can claim to be without the need for improvement. Finally, I would have stated that her points will be thoroughly re-examined and hope that she will stay in touch to that end. 

In other words, I would have opted to demonstrate humility and self-reflection in substance, instead of backhandedly, yet blaringly, demonstrating the contrary. The "humble brags" in the email (we are SUCH a SUCCESSFUL firm), if anything, evince a profound insecurity about what the firm is like for those who do not fit in "like family."
The response proves all the more, the insidious nature of the aggression the departing associate describes --- underhanded and replete with subtext.

I'm not black. I'm not a woman. I don't need to be to see that in that exchange, the exiting associate clearly had a point.

likeuplifting

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I hope soon to hear news from Ropes and like firms of concrete efforts and tangible progress.

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firm’s response: basically “well *I* had a great time so...🤷🏼‍♀️”

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likefunny

Crisis management

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For more context, since the G Floyd protests the firm, driven by associate desires/demands to do more, has been undergoing a an internal evaluation of things to change to be better. It’s involved affinity group, as task force, diversity committee, and policy committee.

Since undergoing that process, firm hasn’t announced final “plan” on how to make better but said they would by year end.

Since then they’ve announced a bunch of nice stuff (fellowship program, 100k donation to SJ orgs, credit for diversity work that counts toward target, and partnership with more SJ race org for the pro Bono work). But they have yet to announce more substantive areas they were considering like reforming review process, complaint process, recruiting, development, reprimand partners/seniors, training, etc.

It’s unfortunate that Ropes is actually ahead of other firms. That tells you how bad it is at RG and even moreso how bad it is at other places.

I know the associate in question, and I’m a POC at RG too, and more senior than her.

I think the firm is making a good faith effort but it’s hard for white ppl to know or understand how their actions individually and collectively drive out black associates (and other POCs).

I feel a mix of despair and hope but don’t see my long term prospects here. She’s also not the first to leave due to issues she identified. None of us are blind to the fact that leaving RG doesn’t solve the problem. Most other places that we go will be same or worse.

If you’re reading this, consider how you’re contributing to the disenfranchisement of black associates at your firm. You can do better.

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SC1 RG also hired a consultant who’s been working with the firm since 2019 I believe. I think it’s a honest effort, but change can’t come fast enough to RG or the rest of the field.

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Intrigued!!! Out them to above the law!!

likesmart

They put the onus on her to do the changing. No self reflection in that response.

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It seems clear that the safe response is to acknowledge the problem and say “we hope it will get better because we believe in us!” - not sure it makes business sense to do more than that, but there’s an undeniable dichotomy inherent in saying your firm “has heart”, as if some higher sense of social good is actually being attempted, while actually doing nothing other than pay lip service to the problem. Any attempt at diversity that is actually undertaken at large firms is purely for the benefit of the business (recruiting, reputation, etc.), but firms try to pretend they care about social justice. That’s the problem. Either don’t pretend, or actually do something that addresses the problem and NOT the bottom line.

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Yes!!! Omg, good for her!

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This topic must be of great pain for those who bear the brunt. I wouldn't expect perfect articulation from a person who just got discharged. It takes courage to step out knowing that the majority will have the loudest say and that they will lash out to contradict you (e.g. we have done so much to help POC -- i.e. our efforts, which justify our image, matter more than the actual results for you, PoC. How many female partners of color are there?) 

Yet when members of the dominant majority exhibit "mental hardship," oh gosh, the industry really needs to pay attention THAT. Those complaints make the headlines of all the legal news publications. 

Indeed, careful analysis of big law reveals segregation amongst even the "majority" based on non-racial factors. This issue is that deeply embedded. To believe that there is no bias for those who visually are outsiders is to deny historical propensity. Human beings are not adept at assessing their own failings. For that, we require the perspective of someone else. Downplaying these other perspectives ensures that these failings will continue.

likeuplifting

Post the original email please

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I feel many might be surprised by how thoughtful Ropes response against comparable “complaints” of racial bias in the legal industry.

Net Net, legal is behind in everything diversity, inclusion, emerging, digital and/or just efficient.

This has been apparent for quite some time. But huge losses from huge changes tend to spotlight known defects.

Some will embrace enough change to squeak by. The rest will dissolve at what (is looking like) an increasing rate.

That in mind, perhaps best we all focus on what “statements” affect the bottom line. Be it your bottom line or the entity you affiliate with.

Make them count.
Carry messages through till they count.
Expect that in the end, it still will not count much.
Then press repeat.

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Whoa. Nope

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Fairly sure I know who this person is - she was famous in law school (and I believe at at least one, possibly two non-Ropes summer firms) for her blazing emails.

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Her Twitter is a work of art, also she describes a person who allegedly threw a firebomb at a police car as her “best friend” - a real class act!

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Is there a link to some reporting on this? I googled and couldn't find anything.

not yet i dont think...hopefully abtl soon

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