At Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP's fourth annual Diversity Networking Reception, professionals and students of diverse backgrounds came together to interact and network with their peers. Held at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center in New York City on August 9, the reception featured two prominent civil rights lawyers, the Hon. Robert L. Carter, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York and former NAACP general counsel, and Theodore M. Shaw, director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF).
The evening began with a book signing by Judge Carter, who authored a book on the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, titled A Matter of Law: A Memoir of Strengths in the Cause of Equal Rights . While Counsel for the NAACP and Assistant Counsel for the Legal Defense Fund, Judge Carter was part of the legal team that planned the strategies and argued the case, which outlawed segregation in public education.Judge Carter won an unprecedented twenty-one of twenty-two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.Other cases included McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, which led to the desegregation of higher education and South Carolina Electric & Gas v. Fleming, which outlawed segregation in intrastate transportation.
Following the signing, Marco Masotti, chair of the firm's diversity committee, introduced his partner and co-chair of the firm's litigation department, Ted Wells. Recognized as one of America's top white-collar criminal defense lawyers, Mr. Wells was recently named by Fortune magazine to its Diversity List as one of "the most influential" minorities in the U.S. today.
Mr. Wells described Mr. Shaw as a pillar in the civil rights community following in the footsteps of Judge Carter. Mr. Shaw was lead counsel in a coalition that represented African-American and Latino student-intervenors in the University of Michigan undergraduate affirmative action admissions case - Gratz v. Bollinger .In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court heard that case, along with one challenging the use of affirmative action at the University of Michigan Law School, Grutter v. Bollinger .The Court ruled in favor of diversity as a compelling state interest.
Mr. Shaw told the gathering diversity is important "for self-interest," as we no longer live in a world run by white males. "It's not possible to be doing business" in that world because "businesses have awakened to a broader range of talent" - talent that comes in all different colors, races and genders.