Last week, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn affirmative action within higher education, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), a Harvard Law School graduate, launched an assault against some of the largest law firms in the country, warning them that their DEI programming — and their advice to clients regarding such programming — may violate federal law. Cotton sent legal threat letters to more than 50 firms, many of them among the Am Law 100’s most elite.
The response from these elite firms has essentially amounted to a shrug.
None of the firms have issued a public response thus far, but consultants who regularly do business with them are speaking up, and as noted by the American Lawyer, “no one is losing sleep over Cotton’s letter.”
“This letter is coming from somebody who has a history of writing inflammatory letters that get him publicity,” said Kent Zimmermann, law firm management consultant at Zeughauser Group, citing Cotton’s 2015 letter to the leaders of Iran to undermine a U.S. nuclear deal or a 2011 open letter calling for the imprisonment of two New York Times journalists and an editor. “Did you ever watch ‘Succession’ where the dad said, ‘You are not serious people’? I feel like this is not a serious person.”
Oof. And the hits keep coming…
Ralph Baxter, law firm management consultant and former Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe chairman and CEO, echoed similar sentiments.
“I think Tom Cotton’s letter or message reflects a lack of understanding and an ignorance of what law firms are trying to achieve in their diversity programs,” Baxter said. “So, I don’t think it will have an impact because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Perhaps it would be best for Senator Cotton to beg off from threatening the most successful law firms in the world — even their consultants are mopping the floor with him.
Earlier: Tom Cotton Threatens Top Biglaw Firms Over Their Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter and Threads or connect with her on LinkedIn.