Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by LBJ's Hair » Thu May 14, 2020 8:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 5:36 pm


I've tried the asking-for-advice approach but have been told more times than I can count that my work product is great, my work ethic is great, and I'll be staffed on [X assignment I requested] when it comes in. Problem is, I never am one of the first people staffed on these cases. I am always staffed at a much later point in time, in a support role. Sometimes I am supporting less experienced associates...

This is one of those things where like, maybe their *words* are telling you that they think you're good, but their *actions* are telling you that they think you're...not?

I would ask to talk to a partner or senior associate you trust, give them specific examples of times this has occurred, and ask like how you should feel about this, why they think it happened, etc. Specifically regarding the "supporting more junior associates" thing.

Seems likely this is race-related, and sorry it's happening. But you want to make sure it's not a performance thing, on the off chance it is. Sometimes associates/partners just don't deliver negative feedback because, selfishly, they're conflict averse and it's easier to manage around the issue than "solve" it. Or they personally like you and feel bad, even though they'd prefer working with other people. (And there could be a racial aspect to them not giving you honest feedback, for the reasons you identified w/partners being more "comfortable" w people who look like them.)

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by nixy » Thu May 14, 2020 9:00 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 6:07 pm
Clearly this female partner has experienced some significant bias or even harassment from male colleagues, either at this firm or in the past, which explains her strong preference for working with other women. This partner is not a member of the ol' boys club. She's not trying to act "more manly" than the male partners (which some women do).

Also clearly, this partner hasn't prioritized advocating for PoC at the firm. She's probably more focused on mentoring female associates than PoC. But this is someone who could very well be sympathetic to PoC and to issues with racial bias and diversity. She's clearly very tuned in to issues with gender bias and diversity. This is someone I think could be worth approaching.
I think this is hugely giving this partner the benefit of the doubt.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by nixy » Thu May 14, 2020 9:01 pm

Throwaway5818 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 8:24 pm
I'd be willing to bet whenever that one unfriendly senior associate encounters faces any work problems, she chalks it up to racism too lol.
So are you implying that the OP also has work problems that they're (wrongly) attributing to racism?

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by Throwaway5818 » Thu May 14, 2020 9:11 pm

nixy wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 9:01 pm
Throwaway5818 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 8:24 pm
I'd be willing to bet whenever that one unfriendly senior associate encounters faces any work problems, she chalks it up to racism too lol.
So are you implying that the OP also has work problems that they're (wrongly) attributing to racism?
The "too" was in reference to the claims of racism, regardless of their merit. I don't have sufficient knowledge of the situation to opine on whether or not OP's subjective perception of the situation is correct or not. Hell, we don't even know if this other senior would be incorrect in her claim that racism/sexism is affecting people's perception of her. Maybe OP is unconsciously prejudiced against this senior based on her race/sex and that's why they consider her unfriendly.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 14, 2020 10:08 pm

OP here. Maybe I WILL press on whether I have performance related issues with my trusted mentor partner. I believe I did this once in 2018 when asking why I kept being passed over for a certain type of opportunity and he told me he’s “never heard anything” (negative about me that is). But maybe he’s just hiding negative feedback for fear of being confrontational.

I received a big bonus and positive reviews three years in a row, so not sure why partners wouldn’t just anonymously give me negative feedback in my annual review if they had some.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 14, 2020 10:16 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 6:07 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 5:36 pm
I think a lot of white and white male partners create an ecosystem wherein only non-diverse attorneys can succeed.
I agree. I do think a contributing factor is that, especially at larger firms where some offices/practice groups are more diverse and others are (much) less so, PoC see this and disproportionately self-select into the more diverse practice groups. Which is a perfectly reasonable decision on the part of the PoC doing the self-selection, but which obviously creates kind of an evil cycle that makes integrating the less-diverse groups even more challenging. To be clear, I think the onus absolutely is on (white, male) seniors to proactively integrate and increase diversity in their offices/practice groups/etc. - I don't think any PoC, by virtue of being a PoC, has some kind of special obligation to volunteer to be a "diversity trailblazer". I just want to point out that in many cases, I've personally observed disproportionately white practice groups stay that way not because the seniors are racist, but merely because they haven't done as much active outreach to recruit PoC as others.

Now, why do I say all this? This brings me back to:
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 5:36 pm
For example, I know of a white female sr partner at my firm, and she is well known to prefer working on all female teams. Problem is, I have never seen her work with a non-white associate in my 3 years at the firm. No, seriously.
Clearly this female partner has experienced some significant bias or even harassment from male colleagues, either at this firm or in the past, which explains her strong preference for working with other women. This partner is not a member of the ol' boys club. She's not trying to act "more manly" than the male partners (which some women do).

Also clearly, this partner hasn't prioritized advocating for PoC at the firm. She's probably more focused on mentoring female associates than PoC. But this is someone who could very well be sympathetic to PoC and to issues with racial bias and diversity. She's clearly very tuned in to issues with gender bias and diversity. This is someone I think could be worth approaching.

And lest I be accused of being naive: yes, obviously it's also possible the female partner is racist, or even misandrist. None of us here know her, so we can't rule out any possibilities. But I think it's possible she'd be willing to help OP. Maybe that doesn't mean staffing OP on her cases, but maybe she helps get him staffed on other cases, or at least gives him frank advice on how - or even whether - he can succeed at the firm given the white male-dominated culture.
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 5:36 pm
I don't think white male partners consciously think "Oh I don't like X because X is Asian/Latino/Black/Middle Eastern so I don't want to staff them on anything." I think they tend to navigate towards associates they feel comfortable with, and these tend to be associates who remind them of themselves. It is even worse for the diverse associate if they are introverted. Before you know it, the lone Asian/Latino/Black/Middle Eastern associate is just left out of big matters, and fills their billable hours serving the core members on various teams. I find myself to be that associate sometimes, more than I'd like to be the case for my class year.
I agree with this take. So, why not put yourself out there and do some more reaching out? (Not saying you haven't already tried this.) At least at the firms I've worked at, it's a (strong) plus for associates to proactively reach out to partners who're doing work they'd be interested in joining.
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 5:36 pm
For certain high visibility roles, though, like trial teams, I suspect partners DO take race and other appearance-based considerations into account when creating teams.
Firms won't admit this openly, but yea, this definitely happens. If you have a case going to trial in the Eastern District of Texas in small-town Tyler (kind of a mecca for big patent cases for a while)... yea, race is going to be a consideration when partners staff that trial team.
OP here.

I once worked an entire year on a litigation team that had four associates. About two months before trial, one of the partners told (warned?) me, “We have not made final decisions as to which associates we will bring to trial.”

In my head I thought “um wtf? There are four of us. You’re going to need all four of us and then some. Is there some reason other than the work we churn out you think one of us can’t be brought to trial?”

That case settled; the partners words remain in my head long after.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by ChosenOneNow » Thu May 14, 2020 10:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 10:08 pm
OP here. Maybe I WILL press on whether I have performance related issues with my trusted mentor partner. I believe I did this once in 2018 when asking why I kept being passed over for a certain type of opportunity and he told me he’s “never heard anything” (negative about me that is). But maybe he’s just hiding negative feedback for fear of being confrontational.

I received a big bonus and positive reviews three years in a row, so not sure why partners wouldn’t just anonymously give me negative feedback in my annual review if they had some.
Was the junior associate that you were supporting just a star associate (early partnership, brings in revenue/cases, etc.)? Or, were they just suddenly slammed, and you were roped into supporting them due to timing circumstances?

It is unusual that you were asked to assist someone junior to you absent one of those two circumstances. However, the fact that you receive positive reviews and have received large bonuses makes me think that this is not performance related. If I was in your position, I honestly would think this is related to you being a PoC associate in a firm without non-white partners.
Last edited by QContinuum on Fri May 15, 2020 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Outed for anon abuse.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by TexasBigLaw » Thu May 14, 2020 10:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 10:08 pm
OP here. Maybe I WILL press on whether I have performance related issues with my trusted mentor partner. I believe I did this once in 2018 when asking why I kept being passed over for a certain type of opportunity and he told me he’s “never heard anything” (negative about me that is). But maybe he’s just hiding negative feedback for fear of being confrontational.

I received a big bonus and positive reviews three years in a row, so not sure why partners wouldn’t just anonymously give me negative feedback in my annual review if they had some.
I can tell you that at my firm we have one crappy junior, and I guarantee you that the partners who review said junior only give him glowing feedback and would swear they haven't heard a negative thing about him, but if you ask the midlevels who are actually reviewing his work.......

I doubt this is your issue, but if there really is a performance issue, you may also want to talk to some seniors/midlevels in your group, if there is one you trust. Depending on how your firm works, they may be more plugged in than the partners (and the seniors may have a lot of sway on staffing, too).

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by Lacepiece23 » Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 8:12 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 7:31 pm
OP here.

Ironically, my boutique firm's partnership has virtually no diverse partners. Seriously. I don't personally know or work for any of them. I only work for white male partners.
There's no question BigLaw remains (heterosexual, conventionally attractive) white male-dominated, but I have a hard time believing your boutique literally has 100% heterosexual white male partners. If there's even one minority partner, you can/should reach out to him/her regardless whether you've ever spoken to them before. They don't need to be the same ethnicity as you - even if, say, you're black, and they're Middle Eastern, you're still in the same boat of both being minorities at the firm. You can also consider reaching out to a female partner - this is especially the case if you're a woman, but even if you're a man, still worth giving it a shot.
Okay - you lost me here. Conventionally attractive? I'm a guy, so maybe I'm not in the best position to judge other men's looks, but there were very few objectively attractive white males in law school. Law school at a T14 was literally revenge of the nerds where the guys that couldn't get girls in high school tried to impress women in law school with how smart they were or how high up they were in class rankings. Those same students became lawyers, partners, etc. And they didn't look like Brad Pitt.

Also, I want to touch on the subject of white women. I've found that they are the least sympathetic group to reach out to. I hate generalizing, but that's been my experience. I have had one white woman take an interest in my career. She's amazing and definitely amongst my close mentors.

But, by and large, I've had much more success with white male partners. I can bond over sports (I know cliche), male privilege, etc. with them. It's much easier to fit in, especially if you have some social skills.

White women, on the other hand, think that they have it tougher than male minorities. I've heard it from them, especially more conservative white women. They aren't empathetic of male minorities and their inability to fit in or network because they are still male. So, you have the biggest group of potentially sympathetic lawyers at the firm, who are not sympathetic at all. There's also the factor that they think they have to work so much harder than everyone.

Black women have it even tougher. They can't fit in with the white males. And the white females generally aren't that interested in mentoring women that don't look like them. Again, these are anecdotal generalizations from my career and conversations with other minorities.

So, they have the worst of both worlds. White women will mentor other white women to the exclusion of other minorities (because they choose to work with those that look like them) and they have a hard time fitting in with the males.

I know black women who actually have much greater success with white male partners than white female partners because there isn't a perceived competition element in this dynamic. The male parter is not threatened and the black female partner is able to cultivate some sort of mentorship relationship.

So, all the talk about going to white females should be disregarded, imo. The best place to go for minorities is, ironically, the white male partners. Not all will be receptive, but a lot will. Quite frankly, they aren't threatened. Then, I'd go for the white female partners. There are always good people in the bunch. YMMV depending on firm, culture, ect. It's very possible to go to an all white firm where everyone is willing to mentor regardless of what you look like and implicit biases they may hold.

Also, white LGBT people are not necessarily allies either. I have a lot of friends in the LGBT community. But just because you have a different sexual preference does not mean that you're an ally. There's also different dynamics amongst the minority groups. Indians and East Asian's often grow resentful of blacks and hispanics due to these groups getting more resources. The model minority myth also stymies their development. They're given work above their level and assumed to be competent. Then, they are held back in social situations and speaking roles. This happens. And they sometimes feel that their issues aren't heard because there's way more emphasis on URMs in the workplace/law school. I've had lots of good allies in those communities, however.

Btw, as I said before, I'm a black male fifth year at a Biglaw firm. I've worked in two different offices of that same firm and my experiences have been exactly the same. I'm not going to assume, but I can almost guarantee that the people putting white women in the same category as URMs and/or are calling them allies are not a URM.

In sum, OP, I'd say go after the white male partners and try to break in more there. Of course, diverse partners are best, but sounds like you don't have that option. After that, Idk, maybe try for some female partners that seem friendly. Try to target the liberals. Good luck.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by bob311 » Fri May 15, 2020 8:50 am

So sorry to hear this OP. I wish this stuff didn’t happen.

If it was me, I would be more cautious than others about raising this in the current climate. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but here me out - the firm aka whoever staffs you clearly doesn’t like your work product if you are supporting more junior folks and not getting professional opportunities to grow. If you raise these issues now, for better or worse, the firm may put you on the top of the list for any potential layoffs.

What I would suggest is to start documenting exactly all the past times this has happened and all the times in the near future. I would also just start putting feelers out on lateraling. The market is terrible I know, but something to consider. Finally, I don’t know if you clerked already, but it sounds like you are in litigation. I know a surprising amount of district court judges prefer to hire 3-4 year associates now anyway and you might be able to pick up a clerkship starting soon. I know my law school still sends out emails all the time about immediate clerkship openings.

Finally op, sorry to hear about your situation.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by QContinuum » Fri May 15, 2020 4:36 pm

Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Okay - you lost me here. Conventionally attractive? I'm a guy, so maybe I'm not in the best position to judge other men's looks, but there were very few objectively attractive white males in law school. Law school at a T14 was literally revenge of the nerds where the guys that couldn't get girls in high school tried to impress women in law school with how smart they were or how high up they were in class rankings. Those same students became lawyers, partners, etc. And they didn't look like Brad Pitt.
Dude, I'm not talking about male models. I'm talking about not being obese (as opposed to merely being unfit or having a gut). Not being visibly handicapped or having an extraordinarily unattractive face.
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Also, I want to touch on the subject of white women. I've found that they are the least sympathetic group to reach out to. ... by and large, I've had much more success with white male partners. I can bond over sports (I know cliche), male privilege, etc. with them. ... White women will mentor other white women to the exclusion of other minorities (because they choose to work with those that look like them)
Congrats on being stereotypically "bro-ey". Not surprising you'd bond more (on average) with men if your preferred chitchat is sports and "male privilege" (wtf).

Nothing to do with white female partners being racist, as you imply.
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Also, white LGBT people are not necessarily allies either. I have a lot of friends in the LGBT community. But just because you have a different sexual preference does not mean that you're an ally.
Being LGBTQ is not a "sexual preference". It's a sexual orientation. Folks don't choose to be gay because they "prefer" the "lifestyle".
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
There's also different dynamics amongst the minority groups. Indians and East Asian's often grow resentful of blacks and hispanics due to these groups getting more resources.
Thanks for this delightful pitting of minorities against each other.
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Of course, diverse partners are best, but sounds like you don't have that option. After that, Idk, maybe try for some female partners that seem friendly.
So after all the puffing, you... agree with my advice that OP should consider approaching the female partners. :roll:

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Fri May 15, 2020 4:54 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 4:36 pm
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Okay - you lost me here. Conventionally attractive? I'm a guy, so maybe I'm not in the best position to judge other men's looks, but there were very few objectively attractive white males in law school. Law school at a T14 was literally revenge of the nerds where the guys that couldn't get girls in high school tried to impress women in law school with how smart they were or how high up they were in class rankings. Those same students became lawyers, partners, etc. And they didn't look like Brad Pitt.
Dude, I'm not talking about male models. I'm talking about not being obese (as opposed to merely being unfit or having a gut). Not being visibly handicapped or having an extraordinarily unattractive face.
I think Lacepiece is mostly off-base but this is definitely not what most people mean by "conventionally-attractive" in the context of socioeconomic privilege. "Conventionally-attractive white male" brings to mind a six-foot-tall 42 Long with a healthy hairline and piercing blue eyes, and those guys are nowhere near as overrepresented in law as they are in business, media and politics.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by nixy » Fri May 15, 2020 5:15 pm

I don't think saying that you can act stereotypically bro-ey - that you can bond with male partners over sports/male privilege - is at all saying you agree with those things. If being bro-ey is what you have to do to get along with a particular group whose support you can benefit from, of course you're going to do it. The point is only that it's easier for him to play to white dude social interests than white women's social interests.

Also, describing intra-minority group conflicts is not the same as pitting minorities against each other. You may not agree that he's correct, but if that's been his experience, it's been his experience.

I'm just not convinced that a white woman who mentors other white women is necessarily going to be more attuned to a PoC associate's interests (see: Becky & Karen memes). There are plenty of self-described feminists who are terrible on race/ethnicity issues.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by Lacepiece23 » Fri May 15, 2020 5:27 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 4:36 pm
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Okay - you lost me here. Conventionally attractive? I'm a guy, so maybe I'm not in the best position to judge other men's looks, but there were very few objectively attractive white males in law school. Law school at a T14 was literally revenge of the nerds where the guys that couldn't get girls in high school tried to impress women in law school with how smart they were or how high up they were in class rankings. Those same students became lawyers, partners, etc. And they didn't look like Brad Pitt.
Dude, I'm not talking about male models. I'm talking about not being obese (as opposed to merely being unfit or having a gut). Not being visibly handicapped or having an extraordinarily unattractive face.
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Also, I want to touch on the subject of white women. I've found that they are the least sympathetic group to reach out to. ... by and large, I've had much more success with white male partners. I can bond over sports (I know cliche), male privilege, etc. with them. ... White women will mentor other white women to the exclusion of other minorities (because they choose to work with those that look like them)
Congrats on being stereotypically "bro-ey". Not surprising you'd bond more (on average) with men if your preferred chitchat is sports and "male privilege" (wtf).

Nothing to do with white female partners being racist, as you imply.
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Also, white LGBT people are not necessarily allies either. I have a lot of friends in the LGBT community. But just because you have a different sexual preference does not mean that you're an ally.
Being LGBTQ is not a "sexual preference". It's a sexual orientation. Folks don't choose to be gay because they "prefer" the "lifestyle".
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
There's also different dynamics amongst the minority groups. Indians and East Asian's often grow resentful of blacks and hispanics due to these groups getting more resources.
Thanks for this delightful pitting of minorities against each other.
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Of course, diverse partners are best, but sounds like you don't have that option. After that, Idk, maybe try for some female partners that seem friendly.
So after all the puffing, you... agree with my advice that OP should consider approaching the female partners. :roll:
So, you condescendingly nitpick my post without actually mentioning how anything I said is wrong? Well, I guess you try to mention a few things, I guess.

Okay then; yes, you're right, being LGBT is not a sexual preference, it's an orientation. Thanks for pointing that out in my post and using it as a way to patronize me. Really appreciate it. And I'm sorry to members of the LGBT community for that mistake. It was the wrong word choice, not malicious. I don't appreciate the insinuation otherwise.

And I'm not pitting minorities against each other. The pitting happens, like it or not. It actually happens MORE in law school then in biglaw. By time biglaw rolls around all the minority groups realize that they are being shafted in some way. And they do tend to come together. This doesn't always happen. I just pointed out MY EXPERIENCE. And before you go there, my wife is Indian and we have these discussions all the time.

With respect to white women, I wasn't trying to imply that they are uniformly racist. I'm not trying to imply that white men are uniformly racist. Of course, there are members of both groups who are racist. But that doesn't mean they all, or even a majority, are.

What I was trying to do was explain how biases affect URMs' interactions with members of these groups. I've noticed AND HAVE BEEN TOLD from white women that they view their plight as worse than mine. Thus, they don't feel the need to help. White men, on the other hand, haven't experienced this treatment. So, I'm able to bond over sports and shit. Idk, if you're not a bro, bond over league of legends. There's plenty of nerds in biglaw. And a lot of them are male, regardless of race.

Lastly, I didn't "puff." I explained why white women may not be the first choice for an ally. OP has no diverse partners or associates to turn to. So, I said yeah, I'd pick the white guys then the white women. What other options does OP have?

I acknowledge, that all of the above are gross generalizations and anecdotal. And they are largely stereotypes that may not hold true. But I've noticed that different groups tend to react differently to URMs than others and was sharing my experience. Otherwise, I'd just say have no preference for whom you turn to because no one sees color and everyone treats everyone the same. :roll: Congrats on once again downplaying the experience of minorities.
Last edited by Lacepiece23 on Fri May 15, 2020 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by Lacepiece23 » Fri May 15, 2020 5:29 pm

nixy wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 5:15 pm
I don't think saying that you can act stereotypically bro-ey - that you can bond with male partners over sports/male privilege - is at all saying you agree with those things. If being bro-ey is what you have to do to get along with a particular group whose support you can benefit from, of course you're going to do it. The point is only that it's easier for him to play to white dude social interests than white women's social interests.

Also, describing intra-minority group conflicts is not the same as pitting minorities against each other. You may not agree that he's correct, but if that's been his experience, it's been his experience.

I'm just not convinced that a white woman who mentors other white women is necessarily going to be more attuned to a PoC associate's interests (see: Becky & Karen memes). There are plenty of self-described feminists who are terrible on race/ethnicity issues.
All of this. Thank you.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by beepboopbeep » Fri May 15, 2020 5:32 pm

Lacepiece, idk if I'm fully on board your prior post, but that you are actually bringing an inside perspective to this thread is valuable. I'd probably recommend just not engaging with QC. Neither you nor OP nor other readers will get anything out of it but secondhand cringe.

Moderator note: Derailing threads with personal attacks is not permitted. This post, as well as beep's previous post (https://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/ ... #p10424760) derailed Legal Employment threads with gratuitous, off-topic personal attacks. Poster has been warned to stop. ~QContinuum

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by Lacepiece23 » Fri May 15, 2020 5:45 pm

beepboopbeep wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 5:32 pm
Lacepiece, idk if I'm fully on board your prior post, but that you are actually bringing an inside perspective to this thread is valuable. I'd probably recommend just not engaging with QC. Neither you nor OP nor other readers will get anything out of it but secondhand cringe.
I don't disagree with you. I'm not going to engage anymore. My post is an insight of what my experience is like, what people have told me, and how I've been able to survive and find mentors that do not look like me. It's not easy, but it is doable.

Last thing I'll say, if it wasn't clear enough already, there are a lot of good people in biglaw. There's a ton of people will help. I think acknowledging the different biases that groups may have can be good and can be bad.

I would not recommend trying to secure a new relationship with the above-mentioned information/ideas in your head. You have to go in and give everyone an equal chance. But that doesn't mean that it's useless to have an understanding of where other people's implicit biases might lead them and how to overcome them.

My failure to attract female mentors could be my own implicit bias. Maybe I've just tried harder with men because it's easier for me. But I've have black female colleagues mention that they've had the same experience. Its anecdotal and a generalization, but its something to consider.

I've obviously had an easier time with other minority groups. They've reached out to me to mentor. But there's nothing like the mentorship I've gotten from black partners. It is what it is. From day 1, it was understood that I'd be taken care of by the two black male partners in my office in some way. If something really hit the fan, I had a big safety net. And I've had to use it before.

So, like everything, there's levels. It's intricate. It's not easy. You really can't survive, however, without mentorship.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 15, 2020 6:24 pm

OP here. Believe it or not I had a chat with my mentor today. I had an opportunity to bring up professional development and my standing at the firm so I did. My mentor did not think I had any performance related issues and encouraged me to trust what I heard in my associate reviews. He also reassured (?) me that I would be soon staffed on various new matters coming in - again, they didn't sound like the type of work I've been requesting, but whatever. I'm a little tired of advocating for myself, and at the moment I think I need to focus on not losing my job or ruffling too many feathers.

A lot of valid possibilities have been mentioned in this thread - partners secretly don't like my work product, I'm not staffed on certain projects because of my race etc. Something not really mentioned though is that I think I might have been pigeonholed into certain specialty areas over the years. For example, even though I want to do A and can do A better than an associate a year or two below me, those associates can't do B at all, so the firm keeps me doing a lot of B while other associates get to do A, which I want to build more expertise in. It sucks, but I can do certain things pretty quickly and effectively, and the firm just doesn't see a reason to replace me on those types of projects. They probably have an added incentive to keep me on those projects because they don't involve going to court etc. (yeah, cats out of the bag, I work in a specialty that involves litigation), where NOT being a conventionally attractive white male could hurt the team in some way. Sucks.

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GoldenPuppy

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by GoldenPuppy » Fri May 15, 2020 6:40 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 4:36 pm
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Also, white LGBT people are not necessarily allies either. I have a lot of friends in the LGBT community. But just because you have a different sexual preference does not mean that you're an ally.
Being LGBTQ is not a "sexual preference". It's a sexual orientation. Folks don't choose to be gay because they "prefer" the "lifestyle".

YO YOU CLEARLY AIN'T EVA BEEN TO JAIL/PRISON

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by QContinuum » Fri May 15, 2020 8:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 6:24 pm
OP here. Believe it or not I had a chat with my mentor today. I had an opportunity to bring up professional development and my standing at the firm so I did. My mentor did not think I had any performance related issues and encouraged me to trust what I heard in my associate reviews. He also reassured (?) me that I would be soon staffed on various new matters coming in - again, they didn't sound like the type of work I've been requesting, but whatever. I'm a little tired of advocating for myself, and at the moment I think I need to focus on not losing my job or ruffling too many feathers.

A lot of valid possibilities have been mentioned in this thread - partners secretly don't like my work product, I'm not staffed on certain projects because of my race etc. Something not really mentioned though is that I think I might have been pigeonholed into certain specialty areas over the years. For example, even though I want to do A and can do A better than an associate a year or two below me, those associates can't do B at all, so the firm keeps me doing a lot of B while other associates get to do A, which I want to build more expertise in. It sucks, but I can do certain things pretty quickly and effectively, and the firm just doesn't see a reason to replace me on those types of projects. They probably have an added incentive to keep me on those projects because they don't involve going to court etc. (yeah, cats out of the bag, I work in a specialty that involves litigation), where NOT being a conventionally attractive white male could hurt the team in some way. Sucks.
OP - thanks for looping back in and keeping us posted. Kudos on the (hopefully) helpful chat with your mentor. For what it's worth, I agree with your sense that you've probably done all you can do right now. If the situation doesn't improve, you should probably consider lateraling once the lockdowns recede later in the year. Regardless of whether you're being held back due to bias or dishonest/passive-aggressive feedback or being pigeonholed, you are being held back, and if the seniors can't/won't fix that, then it may be worth seriously considering lateraling.

Best wishes going forward.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by lavarman84 » Sat May 16, 2020 12:40 am

QContinuum wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 4:36 pm
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Okay - you lost me here. Conventionally attractive? I'm a guy, so maybe I'm not in the best position to judge other men's looks, but there were very few objectively attractive white males in law school. Law school at a T14 was literally revenge of the nerds where the guys that couldn't get girls in high school tried to impress women in law school with how smart they were or how high up they were in class rankings. Those same students became lawyers, partners, etc. And they didn't look like Brad Pitt.
Dude, I'm not talking about male models. I'm talking about not being obese (as opposed to merely being unfit or having a gut). Not being visibly handicapped or having an extraordinarily unattractive face.
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Also, I want to touch on the subject of white women. I've found that they are the least sympathetic group to reach out to. ... by and large, I've had much more success with white male partners. I can bond over sports (I know cliche), male privilege, etc. with them. ... White women will mentor other white women to the exclusion of other minorities (because they choose to work with those that look like them)
Congrats on being stereotypically "bro-ey". Not surprising you'd bond more (on average) with men if your preferred chitchat is sports and "male privilege" (wtf).

Nothing to do with white female partners being racist, as you imply.
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Also, white LGBT people are not necessarily allies either. I have a lot of friends in the LGBT community. But just because you have a different sexual preference does not mean that you're an ally.
Being LGBTQ is not a "sexual preference". It's a sexual orientation. Folks don't choose to be gay because they "prefer" the "lifestyle".
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
There's also different dynamics amongst the minority groups. Indians and East Asian's often grow resentful of blacks and hispanics due to these groups getting more resources.
Thanks for this delightful pitting of minorities against each other.
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Of course, diverse partners are best, but sounds like you don't have that option. After that, Idk, maybe try for some female partners that seem friendly.
So after all the puffing, you... agree with my advice that OP should consider approaching the female partners. :roll:
I think his points were fair and as accurate as generalizations can be. They're similar to what I've heard from close black friends (close enough that they're willing to speak frankly) and close friends of color who aren't black.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by LBJ's Hair » Sat May 16, 2020 7:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 6:24 pm

A lot of valid possibilities have been mentioned in this thread - partners secretly don't like my work product, I'm not staffed on certain projects because of my race etc. Something not really mentioned though is that I think I might have been pigeonholed into certain specialty areas over the years. For example, even though I want to do A and can do A better than an associate a year or two below me, those associates can't do B at all, so the firm keeps me doing a lot of B while other associates get to do A, which I want to build more expertise in. It sucks, but I can do certain things pretty quickly and effectively, and the firm just doesn't see a reason to replace me on those types of projects. They probably have an added incentive to keep me on those projects because they don't involve going to court etc. (yeah, cats out of the bag, I work in a specialty that involves litigation), where NOT being a conventionally attractive white male could hurt the team in some way. Sucks.
Great to hear that they think your work is good -- if your specialty (in addition to race -- they're not mutually exclusive of course) is preventing you from getting work you want, that definitely sucks, but a way better situation than you being denied work because you're bad at your job

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by JusticeSquee » Sat May 16, 2020 10:31 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 4:36 pm
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Okay - you lost me here. Conventionally attractive? I'm a guy, so maybe I'm not in the best position to judge other men's looks, but there were very few objectively attractive white males in law school. Law school at a T14 was literally revenge of the nerds where the guys that couldn't get girls in high school tried to impress women in law school with how smart they were or how high up they were in class rankings. Those same students became lawyers, partners, etc. And they didn't look like Brad Pitt.
Dude, I'm not talking about male models. I'm talking about not being obese (as opposed to merely being unfit or having a gut). Not being visibly handicapped or having an extraordinarily unattractive face.
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Also, I want to touch on the subject of white women. I've found that they are the least sympathetic group to reach out to. ... by and large, I've had much more success with white male partners. I can bond over sports (I know cliche), male privilege, etc. with them. ... White women will mentor other white women to the exclusion of other minorities (because they choose to work with those that look like them)
Congrats on being stereotypically "bro-ey". Not surprising you'd bond more (on average) with men if your preferred chitchat is sports and "male privilege" (wtf).

Nothing to do with white female partners being racist, as you imply.
Agreed on the white female partner point. As a non-white associate, I'm just going to say that most of my experiences with overt racism in the work place (i.e., calling food of my culture "disgusting," telling me that I should anglicize my name if I want to advance professionally, commenting on how its odd that I'm in the law as opposed to other stereotypical professions for my race) came from white female partners.

And the white female junior partners at my firm will 100% favor other white females over minorities. I've often been assigned secretarial task by white female partners, while other partners are glad to assign me substantive tasks.

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 17, 2020 9:48 am

JusticeSquee wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 10:31 pm
QContinuum wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 4:36 pm
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Okay - you lost me here. Conventionally attractive? I'm a guy, so maybe I'm not in the best position to judge other men's looks, but there were very few objectively attractive white males in law school. Law school at a T14 was literally revenge of the nerds where the guys that couldn't get girls in high school tried to impress women in law school with how smart they were or how high up they were in class rankings. Those same students became lawyers, partners, etc. And they didn't look like Brad Pitt.
Dude, I'm not talking about male models. I'm talking about not being obese (as opposed to merely being unfit or having a gut). Not being visibly handicapped or having an extraordinarily unattractive face.
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 11:13 pm
Also, I want to touch on the subject of white women. I've found that they are the least sympathetic group to reach out to. ... by and large, I've had much more success with white male partners. I can bond over sports (I know cliche), male privilege, etc. with them. ... White women will mentor other white women to the exclusion of other minorities (because they choose to work with those that look like them)
Congrats on being stereotypically "bro-ey". Not surprising you'd bond more (on average) with men if your preferred chitchat is sports and "male privilege" (wtf).

Nothing to do with white female partners being racist, as you imply.
Agreed on the white female partner point. As a non-white associate, I'm just going to say that most of my experiences with overt racism in the work place (i.e., calling food of my culture "disgusting," telling me that I should anglicize my name if I want to advance professionally, commenting on how its odd that I'm in the law as opposed to other stereotypical professions for my race) came from white female partners.

And the white female junior partners at my firm will 100% favor other white females over minorities. I've often been assigned secretarial task by white female partners, while other partners are glad to assign me substantive tasks.
OP here.

I hate to overgeneralize an entire group, and I try to treat my coworkers as individuals when I meet them, but I have been warned the same by an ex-Big Law diverse female mentor... that, for all the reasons mentioned, I am ironically best off working with white males.

There are studies that have examined why women don’t help each other in the workplace, esp ones that are male dominated: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/ar ... ee/488144/

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Re: Associate Frequently "Used" For Diversity Purposes

Post by sparty99 » Sun May 17, 2020 4:13 pm

It might be best if you seek a firm with 4 or more black partners in your office. Whether white males or female are better is idk b/c at the end of the day white is white. But do remember what happened to our beloved Emmett Till.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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