Law Schools

Group asks fellow Harvard Law students to boycott Kirkland & Ellis

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Courtesy of Harvard Law School.

The Pipeline Parity Project has called for a student boycott of Kirkland & Ellis until the law firm removes arbitration agreements from employee contracts.

The organization describes itself as a group of Harvard Law School students focused on ending harassment and discrimination in the legal profession.

Kirkland is the largest employer to recruit at the law school, the group claims, and the firm did not respond to a June survey about whether its employee contracts include arbitration mandates, Bloomberg Law reported. The group released a copy of what it says is Kirkland’s employee contract, which can be viewed here. Kirkland did not respond to an ABA Journal interview request as of publication.

A hashtag, #dumpkirkland, was coined for the effort. It follows a March Twitter campaign criticizing mandatory arbitration in large law firm employee contracts, which led to some, including Munger Tolles & Olson and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, dropping the clauses from employment contracts.

The law school-led survey, which was released in June 11, sent questions about mandatory arbitration in employment contracts to 374 BigLaw firms. A total of 188, including Kirkland, did not respond, according to the Bloomberg story.

Three law firms, Paul Hastings, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and Drinker Biddle, reported that they do require employees to sign arbitration agreements, Bloomberg reported, and some law firms indicated that they removed the requirement following student pushback.

Vail Kohnert-Yount, a 2L at Harvard Law and a member of the Pipeline Parity Project, told Bloomberg that the primary goal is blocking law firms with arbitration agreements from on-campus recruiting at the school.

“At a minimum, every employer who recruits here should have to answer the survey,” Kohnert-Yount said.

The Pipeline Parity Project also has called for the school administration to remove U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh as an instructor “unless a full and fair investigation is conducted.” Kavanaugh is scheduled to teach “The Supreme Court Since 2005” in January, and has taught at the school since 2008, according to the Washington Post.

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