The Dewey Ballantine Culture

BY DRAHBARD@LAW.HARVARD.EDU

After my 2L year, I worked as a summer associate in Dewey Ballantine’s D.C. office. Although I ultimately decided on a path that did not include accepting an offer from the firm, I found Dewey Ballantine to be a great place to work. That is why, while I second the comments made by Angela Chan and Prof. Jerry Kang about Mr. Getter’s offensive e-mail, I feel a responsibility to speak up for the individuals I came to know at Dewey Ballantine.

Simply put, Mr. Getter’s comments in no way mirror my experience at Dewey Ballantine. As the Record reports, the firm had already confronted the effects of racial insensitivity arising out of a firm function that included the performance of an offensive parody song about the closing of the firm’s Hong Kong office. I recognize the summer associate gloss that inevitably covers a student’s experience at a firm. With that said, my discussions with associates and partners left me convinced that the people at Dewey Ballantine genuinely cared about fixing whatever element of the firm’s culture allowed for the breakdown in respect that the parody revealed. I also admit that my interaction with those in the firm was limited to the D.C. office. However, firm-wide action seemed to back up the resolve that I witnessed in D.C.

Mr. Getter’s comments serve as reminder that Dewey Ballantine’s work is unfinished. In a firm of over five-hundred lawyers, the work may never end. Perhaps it is best that it never does. That APALSA is now working with the firm is a welcome development, and I applaud the programs that the firm announced in recent weeks. As Dewey Ballantine deals with these issues, I hope observers will not evaluate the firm solely on the basis of the racially insensitive remarks of a few in its ranks, but also on the basis of what the firm has done, and will do, in response. These latter developments, I believe, are a more accurate reflection of the culture at Dewey Ballantine – certainly, they represent the combined character of the people with whom I worked.

Damon Rahbar-Daniels (’04)

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