Conservative Group Highlights Two More Law Firms As Potential Litigation Targets Over Diversity Fellowships

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A group founded by Edward Blum, the conservative activist behind the Supreme Court cases that overturned affirmative action, has warned two more law firms that they could be subject to litigation if they don’t change their diversity fellowships.

American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER) sent letters Monday to Susman Godfrey and Fox Rothschild requesting further information about their diversity fellowship programs in order to avoid litigation. AAER’s has already filed lawsuits against two other law firms, which changed the criteria for their fellowships after the legal challenge, and sent similar warning letters to three others.

“The American Alliance for Equal Rights is committed to ending these racially discriminatory ‘diversity’ fellowships,” Edward Blum, president of AAER, said in a statement. “AAER is hopeful these programs will transition to become available to all qualified law students, regardless of their race. Additional litigation may be necessary.”

The letter to Susman Godfrey highlights two programs that “exclude certain applicants based on race”: the Diversity Fellowship for 1L Students and Susman Godfrey Prize for Students of Color. The firm’s diversity fellowship is two-week program for first-year law students “who are women, people of color, individuals who identify as LGBTQ, or members of other groups underrepresented in today’s legal profession,” according to the website.

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 29: Supporters of affirmative action protest near the U.S. Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill on June 29, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Fox Rothschild’s 1L Diversity Fellowship program requires students to be members of “underrepresented racial/ethnic groups” or groups “historically underrepresented in the legal profession,” according to the letter. However, the firm changed the criteria over the last few days, removing references to race on its webpage, the letter notes.

The program now emphasizes a “commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts in the legal community,” per the website.

“That Fox’s program appears to be no longer explicitly race-based is a positive development; but the Alliance remains concerned that, in application, the program will continue to consider race,” the letter states.

AAER sent three similar letters last week to Winston & Strawn, Hunton Andrews Kurth and Adams and Reese. Adams and Reese replied with its own letter stating that it would proceed with a fellowship program that targeted “members of racial and ethnic minority groups and other disadvantaged groups,” according to Reuters.

AAER dropped lawsuits against Perkins Coie and Morrison & Foerster after the firms updated their eligibility criteria.

Susman Godfrey and Fox Rothschild did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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