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American Alliance for Equal Rights Files Lawsuit Against Perkins Coie LLP and Morrison & Foerster LLP Alleging Discriminatory Diversity Fellowships

AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 22, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAFER) filed two lawsuits challenging the awarding of diversity fellowships by the international law firms Perkins Coie LLP and Morrison & Foerster LLP.

The complaints are attached.

Regarding Perkins Coie, AAFER alleges that the “diversity fellowships” for first year (1L) and second year (2L) law students exclude certain applicants based on their race. These fellowships offer recipients a six-figure job that include five-figure stipends. However, applicants do not qualify unless they are “students of color,” “students who identify as LGBTQ+,” or “students with disabilities.” This means that between two heterosexual, nondisabled applicants, one black or Hispanic, and the other one who white, the latter cannot apply based solely on his race.

Regarding Morrison & Foerster, AAFER alleges that the firm’s Keith Wetmore 1L Fellowship for Excellence, Diversity, and Inclusion bans certain applicants based on their race. Applicants to this lucrative fellowship do not qualify to participate unless they are “African American/Black, Latinx [sic], Native Americans/Native Alaskans, and/or members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

The American Alliance for Equal Rights alleges that these exclusionary policies violate the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. §1981, because Perkins Coie and Morrison & Foerster are expressly refusing to contract with certain applicants based on their race and ethnicity.

The lawsuit against Perkins Coie was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The lawsuit against Morrison & Foerster was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The Alliance has petitioned the courts to enter a judgement in its favor and declare that these programs violate §1981 and to bar both firms from considering race as a factor when selecting fellows.

Edward Blum, president of the American Alliance for Equal Rights said, “Excluding students from these esteemed fellowships because they are the wrong race is unfair, polarizing and illegal. Law firms that have racially-exclusive programs should immediately make them available to all applicants, regardless of their race.”

Blum added, “In dozens of polls, nearly 75-percent of all Americans, including majorities of blacks and Hispanics, believe a job applicant’s race should not be a factor in hiring or promotion decisions. These law firms are fostering policies that diminish individuals’ unique qualifications and accomplishments.”

Blum concluded, “Race and ethnicity are attributes, not accomplishments. It is the hope of this organization, as well as most Americans, that these law firms end these racial restrictions and open these fellowships to all qualified applicants.”

American Alliance for Equal Rights
3571 Far West Blvd #17
Austin, Texas 78731
[email protected]
703-505-1922
AmericanAllianceForEqualRights.org

SOURCE American Alliance for Equal Rights

Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-alliance-for-equal-rights-files-lawsuit-against-perkins-coie-llp-and-morrison–foerster-llp-alleging-discriminatory-diversity-fellowships-301907123.html
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