Support
Black Hair, Big Law symposium speakers (via Black Hair, Big Law)

The woman who wrote a law banning discrimination based on natural hairstyles, adopted in 19 states, will be coming to Arlington to talk about anti-Black bias in the legal profession.

Wendy Greene, architect and advisor on the “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2022” (CROWN Act), will be joined by other lawyers and legal scholars at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School tomorrow (Thursday) to tackle whether the jobs in the nation’s top law firms, known as “big law,” are less attainable for Black people who wear their hair in afros, dreads or braids.

The two-hour “Black Hair, Big Law” symposium sponsored by George Mason’s Black Law Student Association will feature talks by American Bar Association President Deborah Enix-Ross and other lawyers and scholars from across the U.S. and the Atlantic Ocean. Attendees can RSVP online and attend in-person at the law school (3301 Fairfax Drive) or via Zoom.

The symposium kicks off at 11 a.m., with lunch starting at noon for in-person attendees. Per a press release, it will include:

  • A distinguished panel of knowledgeable, relatable, and trailblazing speakers
  • Compelling original quantitative graduate research black attorneys and their hair
  • Poignant, thought-provoking videos about attorneys and judges wearing their hair natural
  • Representation matters: 100 Black TV and Film Lawyers from the controversial “Amos & Andy” to the new CBS legal drama, “All Rise.”

All attendees will receive an anthology of nearly 100 first-hand experiences from Black attorneys, paralegals and law students describing discrimination they faced, or expected to face, because of their hair.

Here are some anecdotes:

“Depending on the court, I [used] to change my hair,” says one woman, per the press release. “As a black woman in many jurisdictions, the court assumes I am either a party to the case or the court reporter. So I would style my hair differently and in fact, dress differently to set myself apart or rather to attempt to set myself apart.”

“”I was told to change my hair when I entered law school. In law school, when in mock trial competitions my hair was judged and questioned by my coaches. Despite it all, I am who I am. My hair is a part of who I am. Thankful for my Howard University experience that helped solidify that being Black is not a badge of shame. Neither is my hair.”

Black people have long been discriminated against for wearing afros, braids or dreads, event organizers say. Some student dress codes forbade them, some people have been fired for wearing dreadlocks and women who wear their hair curly have been stigmatized as choosing a less professional style.

In the face of discrimination, Black men could choose to wear their short, but for many women, their choice is between keeping it natural or straightening it with chemicals.

This alternative, popular for decades — despite the uncomfortable side effects, such as sores — has recently been linked to uterine cancer. It prompted lawsuits to be filed in California, Illinois and New York, according to the online law blog Above the Law.

The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020 prompted a renewed focus on racism, particularly against Black people, within “big law,” where a strong majority of lawyers are white, the American Lawyer reports.

The law publication’s annual “Diversity Scorecard” for 2022 showed the greatest annual increase in the percentage of minority attorneys in the industry since 2001.

The total number of minority attorneys rose to 20.2%, up from 18.5% last year and 17.8% in 2020. The number of minority partners also climbed, reaching 11.9%, up from 10.9% in 2021, and the percentage of minority nonpartners hit 26.7%, up from 24.6% in 2021.

Meanwhile, another law publication, JD Supra, reports that 18% of all attorneys in the nation’s 200 largest law firms, ranked by revenue, are “ethnically diverse” — up a percentage point from 17%, where it sat from 2019-21.

Despite the recent progress, advocates say new lawyers will not stay if big law does not address systemic issues, such as when firms protect powerful partners accused of bullying, harassment or racial bias.

0 Comments

Kabob Palace restaurant in Crystal City has sent a cease and desist letter to ARLnow, threatening legal action over an article that reported on a possible measles exposure there.

The article was published Friday evening, after Arlington County and the Virginia Dept. of Health issued press releases warning that a person with measles had traveled to a number of places in Northern Virginia, including the restaurant on the 2300 block of S. Eads Street.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Health Districts in northern Virginia are informing people who were at various locations — including Kabob Palace (2333 S. Eads St., Arlington, VA 22202), on Jan. 26-27, 2020, 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. — that they may have been exposed to a person with measles,” Arlington’s press release said.

“Northern Virginia area health officials are mounting a coordinated effort to identify people who may have been exposed,” the press release continued. “Based on the date of exposure, we have determined that if you were infected with measles, you may develop symptoms as late as February 19, 2020.”

The cease and desist letter, below, demands that ARLnow’s article relaying the information from the county “be removed from your website immediately, as the article contains misinformation that has had a direct negative and significant impact on Kabob Palace’s business.”

Kabob Palace was the only Arlington location mentioned by authorities as having been visited by the measles patient. The cease and desist letter says the ARLnow article, and accompanying photo, “unfairly single out Kabob Palace.”

“Your voluntary removal of the picture of my client’s business as well as a more balanced and factually accurate report of the facts will be appreciated,” the letter says. “Failure to comply with these reasonable requests may force my client to take further legal action, which we all would hope to avoid.”

The full letter is below.

Photo via Google Maps

0 Comments

Arlington County police logoAn Arlington woman has been charged with fraudulently obtaining more than $100,000 in public assistance.

Police say the fraud happened between 2010 and 2016.

The suspect, Helen Agbapuruonwu, was charged with felony welfare fraud and document forgery. Her husband is listed on LinkedIn and elsewhere as an associate at the D.C. office of a large international law firm.

From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

FELONY WELFARE FRAUD, 2016-10040029, 2100 block of Washington Boulevard. Between April 1, 2010 and August 1, 2016 the subject allegedly fraudulently obtained public assistance in excess of $100,000 under false pretenses. Helen Agbapuruonwu, 38, of Arlington VA was arrested and charged with felony welfare fraud and document forgery.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Newly-installed solar panels on the rooftop of Buck & Associates in Courthouse (photo courtesy Billy Buck)

Vornado Reveals Big Plans for Crystal City — Vornado, the preeminent property owner in Crystal City, has filed preliminary plans to overhaul a number of its properties in the community. The plans include big changes to the Shops at 1750 retail space, near the entrance to the Crystal City Metro station, and a new multiplex cinema. [Washington Business Journal]

Lyft to Open Regional HQ in Crystal City — Ride hailing app company Lyft is planning to invest $350,000 to open a new regional headquarters in Crystal City, creating 32 jobs locally. “Lyft is thrilled to open our new office in the emerging innovation center of Crystal City,” said Steve Taylor, the company’s general manager for the D.C. area. “We’re extremely pleased by the warm welcome we have received from Governor McAuliffe, and state and county officials.” [Washington Post]

Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Attack on Law Firm Partner — Alecia Schmuhl has pleaded guilty in the vicious 2014 attack on Leo Fisher and his wife Susan Duncan. Prosecutors say Schmuhl and her husband took the couple hostage, slit Fisher’s throat and stabbed Duncan as part of a revenge plot after she was fired by Fisher from the Arlington-based firm of Bean Kinney & Korman. Fisher and Duncan survived the attack. [Washington Post]

Nominations Open for James B. Hunter Award — Arlington County is accepting nominees for the 2016 James B. Hunter Award. The award, named after a former Arlington County Board member, “goes to individuals, community groups, non-profit organizations and business establishments that promote cultural diversity and equal rights for all residents.” [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Billy Buck

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Autumn in Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Eric)

LWV to Address Pike Changes — Scheduled well before yesterday’s news that the county’s streetcar project is being canceled, the League of Women Voters tonight will hold a forum entitled “Columbia Pike in Transition.” The forum will explore the future of the Columbia Pike corridor. [InsideNova]

Board Approves Affordable Housing Loan — The Arlington County Board has approved a $8.5 million loan for developer AHC Inc. to purchase the Spectrum Apartments at 5055 S. Chesterfield Road and convert 80 market-rate apartments to committed affordable units. [Arlington County]

Va. Liquor Price Hike — The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has approved a price hike for liquor that’s expected to raise an extra $5.4 million for the state coffers. [Washington Business Journal]

McLean Stabbing Victims Recovering — Arlington law firm Bean, Kinney & Korman says its managing shareholder, Leo Fisher, and his wife are recovering from a brutal stabbing in their McLean home. “There has been universal concern for the welfare of Leo and Sue, and we are thankful to be able to assure everyone that they are recovering steadily,” the firm said in a statement yesterday. Meanwhile, new details have been revealed about the hours-long “torture session” former Bean Kinney attorney Alecia Schmuhl and her husband Andrew allegedly put Fischer and his wife through on Nov. 9. [Washington Post]

Rip Sullivan Joins Bean KinneyRecently-elected House of Delegates member Rip Sullivan has joined the Courthouse-based law firm of Bean, Kinney & Korman, the firm announced yesterday. [Bean, Kinney & Korman]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list