27 Top Law Firms Say Anti-Semitic Activities Will ‘Not Be Tolerated,’ Rescind Job Offers
If Hamas’s actions raping women, decapitating babies, and burning children alive isn’t enough reason for students to condemn them, then not being able to find a job after graduation might change their minds. Twenty-seven of America’s top law firms recently conveyed this message through a letter: “anti-Semitic activities [will] not be tolerated at any of our firms.” This applies to both law students and any “outside groups” involved.
The letter continued, “Over the last several weeks, we have been alarmed at reports of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and assaults on college campuses, including rallies calling for the death of Jews and the elimination of the State of Israel.” Some of the law firms represented in the letter include Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Latham & Watkins; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
The statement followed Davis Polk & Wardwell, another signatory, withdrawing two job offers to individuals who blamed Israel for the Hamas attacks. Additionally, Winston & Strawn revoked a job offer to former New York University Student Bar Association President Ryna Workman only a week prior. While none of the law schools that received the letter were named, The New York Times emphasized there are “14 top institutions, along with others that have strong ties with the signatories.”
The letter urged these “educators at institutions of higher learning” to prepare students “with the tools and guidance to engage” in discussion in a manner “that affirms … values” of the law firms, noting that there’s no space “for anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism or any other form of violence, hatred or bigotry on your campuses, in our workplaces or our communities.” To leave no room for doubt, the letter concluded by asking the schools to “take the same unequivocal stance against such activities as” they do.
In response, University of California, Berkeley law dean Erwin Chemerinsky said, “I am unsure what the law firms are asking law schools to do.” He did, however, note it was their “role to protect the freedom of speech of all of [their] students, while also ensuring that there is a conducive learning environment and preparing students for the practice of law at the highest levels of the profession.” But no specific comment on the main content of the letter was provided.
Chris Gacek, a law school graduate and senior fellow for Regulatory Affairs at Family Research Council, commented to The Washington Stand, “It should be a red flag to any hiring law firm considering any student who has had affiliation with groups that support groups like Students for Justice in Palestine.” He added that these groups explicitly hate Jews as an organization. “These people go around campuses intimidating Jews and making campus unsafe. It’s unacceptable, and these people shouldn’t be lawyers,” he said.
He continued, “We never had anything like these levels of anti-Semitism in the U.S., and what we’ve seen in the last month is off the charts.”
While Gacek pointed out that the law firms’ stance is good, he also noted that it would be unlikely to see them do the same thing for other groups such as evangelical Christians. Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at FRC, share a similar view. “While I am grateful that these law firms are rejecting anti-Semitism, I wonder if they will be as happy to accept lawyers who believe in a biblical definition of marriage or that life begins at conception and lasts until natural death?”
Kilgannon also discussed the impact of Marxism in education, which has taken on “a variety of forms” including “so called ‘anti-racism;’ queer theory not only accepted but enforced for children; the insistence of reading material for children featuring sexually explicit, violent, and glamorized substance abuse, etc.” She continued, “Even with all that going on in K-12 and on college campuses across the country, somehow many people seem to think that law schools are a bastion of conservatism.”
For Kilgannon, “Until we can return to the ancient principles regarding professional service, we are going to be disappointed by these institutions.” She concluded, “Lawyers, doctors, and priests have traditionally been viewed as being privileged to have a special kind of learning or knowledge that obligates them to use their expertise in the service of everyone — regardless of how they feel about the people they serve. The ideal of a protagonist like Atticus Finch seems very far from the minds of most people when they think about lawyers today.”
Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.