Staff at US firm Quinn Emanuel are "very angry" because a white partner criticised a black partner for not being sufficiently aware of diversity issues.
The white partner, 'LP', who is based in the London office of the dispute resolution firm, kept all 850+ of Quinn's lawyers copied in to a business-wide email exchange when he took issue with a list, of potential arbitrators for a panel, which had been circulated by his black colleague in the US.
"I am sure it's not your fault but there is an appalling lack of diversity in this list", LP told his American colleague, ‘UP’, in his email last Thursday. "There are many great women and many 'less white' candidates who would profile well against this same white male group".
Turmoil ensued, according to staff at the firm who contacted RollOnFriday.
A source said that LP "decided today that he would lecture a black partner in front of Quinn Emanuel’s ENTIRE global attorney base" with an email which was "unacceptable and shows incredibly poor judgment. It’s a disgrace and lots of people are very angry".
Another insider said the email "speaks for itself" and was "disgustingly patronizing". The emails were leaked to RollOnFriday.
Readers unfamiliar with the rise of identity politics and critical race theory may be surprised by the reaction to LP's message.
UP responded with a reply-all email in which he thanked LP "for your separate email to me". A source said that private email took the form of a "grovelling apology".
"You raise some important points that we should address", continued UP.
"However", he said with icy diplomacy, "I do need to clear up one inaccuracy. Just last week, I sent out an email seeking input on a list of potential chairs that included women. So we did in fact consider women for this appointment".
"Regarding the lack of racial diversity", wrote UP, "I agree with you, and as a Black attorney in the legal industry, I am keenly aware of the issue. To that end, I would strongly encourage you to provide me with a list of diverse attorneys...given that you routinely practice in this area".
Scientists estimate that UP’s burn was several times hotter than the sun.
In a statement, Quinn told RollOnFriday that LP "inadvertently caused offence" by observing that UP's list lacked diversity, and said that "an apology was given for any offence caused".
However, the firm said, "arising out of that exchange", the two partners have
been forced to play together "agreed to lead an initiative within the firm to try and ensure that more diverse candidates will be considered for future arbitrator and mediator candidates”.
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