Davis Polk & Wardwell has rescinded job offers made to three law students who served in leadership positions of student organizations that signed on to controversial statements made in the wake of the deadly Hamas terrorist attack in Israel. The students in question attend Columbia and Harvard, and went unnamed in an internal email (available in full on the next page) sent by DPW’s chair, Neil Barr.
In that email, Barr noted that the statements put forth by the student groups were “simply contrary to our firm’s values,” and that the consequential decision to rescind their offers was “appropriate in upholding our responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive work environment for all Davis Polk employees.” Davis Polk remains “in dialogue” with two of the affected students to “ensure that any further color being offered to us … is considered.”
Barr’s internal email included the following statement on the matter:
The views expressed in certain of the statements signed by law school student organizations in recent days are in direct contravention of our firm’s value system. For this reason and to ensure we continue to maintain a supportive and inclusive work environment, the student leaders responsible for signing on to these statements are no longer welcome in our firm; and their offers of employment have been rescinded.
A report from the New York Times states that the Biglaw firm may be reversing course:
On Tuesday, the firm said it was reconsidering that decision for two of the three students, who fought their dismissals and said that they did not authorize the letters, which did not have any individual signatories. The potential reversal highlights the complexities — for both employers and employees — of navigating what has quickly become one of the most emotionally divisive issues in recent decades.
Davis Polk’s move to rescind these students’ offers follows a decision made by Winston & Strawn to revoke an offer made to NYU Law’s Student Bar Association president, who sent out a school-wide newsletter branding the Hamas attack on Israel as “necessary.”
These rescinded offers from Biglaw firms speak volumes and may be setting precedent. These firms are making a big statement on the kind of conduct that they’ll tolerate — and controversial statements like these have officially crossed the line. Which firm will be the next to rescind offers to would-be associates? Stay tuned….
Davis Polk Rescinds Offers to 3 Students at Columbia, Harvard for Statements on Israel [American Lawyer]
A Prestigious Law Firm Rescinded Job Offers for Columbia and Harvard Students, but It May Reverse Itself [New York Times]
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.