Conservative Group Sues Law Firm For ‘Racially Discriminating Against Future Lawyers’

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A conservative group sued the law firm Winston & Strawn Monday for “racially discriminating against future lawyers.”

American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER), a group founded by Edward Blum, the activist behind the Supreme Court cases that overturned affirmative action in higher education, sued the firm over a program it claims “discriminates against certain applicants because of their race.” The firm’s “Winston & Strawn’s 1L Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD)” program requires applicants to be part of a disadvantaged or historically underrepresented group in the legal profession, according to the complaint.

“This prestigious program pays a five-figure stipend and leads to a six-figure job,” the lawsuit says. “But law students cannot get it unless they belong to a group that is ‘disadvantaged’ or ‘historically underrepresented’—Winston’s shorthand for not a straight white male. So between two straight men—one black and one white—the latter can’t apply because of his skin color.”

Students and others gather at Harvard University's Science Center Plaza to rally in support of Affirmative Action after the Supreme Court ruling on July 1, 2023 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS – JULY 1: Students and others gather at Harvard University’s Science Center Plaza to rally in support of Affirmative Action after the Supreme Court ruling on July 1, 2023 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

AAER warned the firm it would bring a lawsuit if it did not change its criteria in an Oct. 9 letter.

When AAER sent the letter, the firm’s website listed membership in a “disadvantaged and historically underrepresented group” as part of its selection criteria. The website now clarifies that “all races, ethnicities, genders, disabilities, orientations, and socio-economic or other backgrounds” are eligible to apply and says selection criteria “include,” but is “not limited to,” membership in a disadvantaged or underrepresented group.

Blum called the program “unfair and illegal” in a statement on Monday. (RELATED: Law Firm Representing Hunter Biden Offers Diversity Scholarship Explicitly Designed For Minority Students)

“It is puzzling why this firm has not revamped their policies considering the Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard Supreme Court decision and the letter AAER sent requesting the firm end all racial considerations for eligibility to this program,” Blum said.

“The highly regarded law firms of Perkins Coie and Morrison Foerster ended all racial considerations for their law student programs after AAER filed similar lawsuits a few weeks ago,” he continued. “It is our hope that Winston & Strawn will be compelled by the courts to follow the law.”

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Winston & Strawn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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