Law firms become latest battleground in US diversity fight

Joe Miller:

The architect of the Supreme Court victory against affirmative action at US universities is now targeting recruitment practices at the nation’s largest law firms, in a strategic ploy that could pave the way for broader challenges to corporate America’s diversity and inclusion schemes.

Edward Blum, a conservative campaigner who in June won a decades-long battle to end racially-conscious admissions at US colleges, has already sued global firms Perkins Coie and Morrison Foerster, arguing that prestigious fellowships designed to attract “historically under-represented” applicants are illegal. He told the Financial Times he was gearing up to potentially file lawsuits against similar firms “over the next few weeks”.

While other activists, including Stephen Miller, a former adviser to Donald Trump, have led efforts to sue over diversity practices at larger companies such as Kellogg’s, Starbucks and Target, the 72-year-old Blum has focused his latest efforts on the legal profession, which he sees as a crucial pillar of a push that gained momentum in recent years with the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Over the last 10 years, especially with [the murder of] George Floyd — the tragedy of that — we saw corporations initiating racially exclusive hiring promotion policies, policies in which managers’ bonuses were tied to specific racial outcomes in their hiring and promotion,” Blum said. Outside counsel, he added, “have been blessing these corporate diversity quotas”.