More of This Law students lead the charge to normalize gender pronouns
For generations of future diplomats and cabinet officials educated at Harvard’s renowned John F. Kennedy School of Government, orientation day has come with a name placard that the students carry from class to class, so their professors can easily call on them.
When Diego Garcia Blum, 30, got his placard last fall, the first-year graduate student immediately took a Sharpie to it, writing “He/Him” next to the big block letters of his name. Other students did the same thing, writing “She/Her” and “They/Them.”
“Yup! Day 1,” Mr. Garcia Blum, recalled, adding, “That’s when I thought, the students are ahead of the school.”
But despite its reputation as a bastion of the establishment, the Kennedy School followed the students’ lead, agreeing to provide clear plastic stickers this semester with four pronoun options that students could apply to their name cards: “He/Him,” “She/Her,” “They/Them” and “Ze/Hir.”
“I think it’s valuable, generally speaking, to challenge the norm that you can assume a person’s gender based on appearances,” said Raven Graf, 25, a nonbinary student at Kennedy whose pronouns are they/them.
As young people who have grown up with a more expansive concept of gender identity bring those ideas to college classrooms, universities have responded in varying ways, with some professors and schools quickly accommodating a wider range of gender pronouns, and others struggling over whether and how to institute new policies.
Last week New York University said students would now be able to indicate their pronouns in the system that provides class rosters and seating charts to faculty members. At least 39 other schools allow students to indicate their pronouns on course rosters, according to a national clearinghouse maintained by the director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Stonewall Center.
Skylar L. Spear, a first-year law student at New York University who is transgender and nonbinary, said the ability to enter pronouns when registering for classes would remove some of the obstacles that students face.
In the past, Spear, 24, has emailed professors in advance to say that their pronouns are they/them. One professor maintained a tradition of addressing students by last names and an honorific like “Mr.” or “Miss.” Spear asked the professor to refer to them by their last name, without any honorific.
Listen the story on NY Times
More of This Too From drug felony to law school to music label executive
James McMillan has come a long way since his drug-dealing days at an HBCU.
Now the Cleveland native, a top-rated Entertainment and Sports Attorneys in New York City, started his own label and signed one of the biggest breakout success stories of 2019, YBN Cordae.
The 22-year-old Raleigh, N.C., native is up for two of his own Grammy Awards this weekend, and also contributed to the success of two other acclaimed projects—H.E.R.’s I Used to Know Her for Album of the Year, and Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media nominee Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Soundtrack.
But McMillan, a self-proclaimed “child of the 90s,” had a few bumps in the road along the way to the hip-hop heights.
While an undergraduate student at Virginia’s Hampton University, McMillan said he was immature, and void of the patience and perseverance needed to live a purposeful life. Going the easy route to get the money he craved, the low-level drug dealer moved thirty pounds of marijuana every month both on and off-campus.
Though he obtained a marketing degree from Hampton University’s School of Business, the Shaker Heights-raised aspiring business lawyer continued in the drug trade and flunked out of Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
After failing out of law school, McMillan was arrested after tossing a pound of weed out of his car while driving down the highway and being pulled over for having illegally tinted windows.
“From this I learned to never let fear dictate a move unaligned with my intelligence,” McMillan tells The Root. “I never gave myself a chance to escape the situation unscathed.”
After being arrested, he had the gumption to hire a lawyer who was able to buy him some time so he could reapply to law school.
Read the story on The Root
Watch This I am a community organizer at heart
Alton Wang is law student at UCLA Law and a ChangeLawyers℠ Scholar.
Less of This The law didn’t stop this federal judge from sexually harassing his law clerks
Since the conversation on sexual harassment in the workplace broke open (again) in the fall of 2017, many smart people have tried to explain the dynamics of the abuse. Again and again it has come back to a simple maxim—that harassment is not only, or even predominantly about sex; it is about power. And so we have spent the past few years trying to unpack how various industries and offices foster power imbalances that allow for such abuse, from the casting couch to academia (and beyond and beyond). One field that operates around a particularly terrible set of power dynamics is the one that is hypothetically tasked with correcting these problems: the law.
It cannot be overstated how influential the clerkship is in elite legal circles. Young law students at the country’s top law schools often start thinking about their clerkship opportunities in the first weeks of their first year of law school, since whom they first clerk for can determine whom they might go on to clerk for, all the way up to the opportunity to clerk at the Supreme Court, an honor that comes not only with professional opportunities but with extraordinarily lucrative signing bonuses. Top students often secure their clerkships in that very first year of law school and go on to work—it is understood, ferociously, constantly, and without complaint—for federal judges who are beholden to no real system of accountability. As a result of reporting in Slate and elsewhere over the past few years, it has become clear just how dangerous that lack of accountability can be.
On Thursday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a hearing on “Protecting Federal Judiciary Employees From Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Other Workplace Misconduct.” Congress is the body that oversees the federal judiciary, and, as the press release announcing the hearing notes, “Under current law, employees of the Federal Judiciary do not have protections from harassment, discrimination, and retaliation afforded under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.” That release also notes that new rules and policies on how to handle workplace harassment in the judiciary were put into place just under a year ago, in March 2019, after several former clerks (including my colleague Dahlia Lithwick) disclosed that they had been harassed by or had witnessed harassment by a specific judge, Alex Kozinski, who retired from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but whose behavior was never formally investigated nor punished. In fact, when onetime Kozinski clerk Brett Kavanaugh was asked at his Supreme Court hearing about the allegations against Kozinski, he insisted repeatedly that he never witnessed any untoward behavior from the judge. (In announcing his retirement, Kozinski wrote, “It grieves me to learn that I caused any of my clerks to feel uncomfortable; this was never my intent. For this I sincerely apologize.”)
Kozinski’s record had been complicated even before these women spoke up: In 2008, the Los Angeles Times broke a story about a private email server he maintained to send crude, often sexually themed jokes, and he was lightly reprimanded by the judiciary for maintaining a publicly accessible website that contained pornographic images (the reprimand was that he had been careless in letting it be public). Thursday at the House Judiciary hearing, another former clerk, Olivia Warren, testified about her experiences clerking for a different judge, one with no such record—former 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt. When Reinhardt passed away in March of 2018, Slate’s obituary described him as possibly the nation’s most liberal federal judge, a man whose career included “unapologetically defending LGBTQ equality, abortion access, women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, and free expression while opposing capital punishment, mass incarceration, and police brutality.” He, like Kozinski, was also known as a feeder judge for Supreme Court justices.
Warren testified Thursday that he was also a sexual harasser. Warren, a graduate of Harvard Law School, spoke to the House Judiciary Committee about her experiences clerking in Reinhardt’s chambers from May 2017 until the judge passed away in March 2018. Her testimony, which was followed by Lithwick’s own, is sickeningly familiar. She recounts being told by everyone around her at Harvard that a clerkship would be a “singular opportunity” and how a former clerk for Reinhardt, who was also her mentor, helped her secure a coveted spot with Reinhardt in her first year of law school. She talks about the unquestionable prestige attached to the clerkship and her excitement about Reinhardt’s reputation as a “liberal lion” given her professional ambitions. She tells of being warned by several people, including former Reinhardt clerks, that she would need to “brace” herself for “your grandfather’s sexism.” And then she goes on to detail her experience with that sexism, which was more than sexism, and how it felt.
Read the story on Slate
Less of This Too The Attorney General is coming after progressive prosecutors
Progressive prosecutors, coming off one of the biggest years in their movement's short history, are looking to 2020 with hope of winning key district attorney offices around the nation and boosting their influence with an overhaul of the system from within.
Attorney General William Barr is standing in their way.
Tensions reached a peak last week after Barr eviscerated the movement in a speech before the Major County Sheriffs of America. He said the "self-styled 'social justice' reformers are refusing to enforce entire categories of law, including law against resisting police officers.”
"In so doing, these DAs are putting everyone in danger," Barr added, asserting that their "policies are pushing a number of America's cities back toward a more dangerous past.”
In a response signed by about 40 reform-minded prosecutors from around in the country, the progressives said they "spend every day trying to make our communities safer and healthier.”
"We hold our jobs because our communities put us in them after we promised a different and smarter approach to justice, one grounded in evidence-based policies that lift people up while prioritizing the cases that cause real harm," they wrote. "Sadly, we are perceived as a threat by some who are wedded to the status quo or, even worse, failed policies of past decades.”
They added: "This is the same attorney general who in the span of 24 hours attacked reform-minded, elected district attorneys for being soft on crime, while demanding his own federal prosecutors lighten the punishment for an ally of his boss. He touts the importance of the rule of law, yet undermines it in the same breath.”
Read the story on NBC News
Waging Change shines a spotlight on the challenges faced by restaurant workers trying to feed themselves and their families off tips. Featuring Saru Jayaraman, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the film reveals an American workers struggle hidden in plain sight-the effort to end the tipped minimum wage of $2.13 for servers and bartenders and the #MeToo movement's effort to end sexual harassment.
Sunday March 22 at 1PM in San Francisco. Register here
Federal Criminal Law Panel
Are you interested in practicing federal criminal law? Register for this free panel, hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Public Defender’s Office
Thursday March 5 at 1PM in Los Angeles. Register here
Free Mindfulness Webinar
We all hear about the importance of mindfulness for our wellbeing, but does anyone ever show us how to achieve a completely present state with minimal effort? What does mindfulness look like if you suffer from imposter syndrome? What unique challenges do people of color, Queer folks, Womxn, and others face on the road to mindfulness? And how can approaches to mindfulness help you in your day-to-day and at work?
February 20 at 12:00 Noon. Register here