The Supreme Court is pretty busy radically remaking established constitutional doctrine. But the most seismic decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, has yet to be issued. However, given the leaked draft decision, we know what awfulness is likely headed our way.
Now, there are lots of ways a firm can deal with the upcoming decision and, honestly, the leadership at Goodwin Procter picked up an absolute stinker.
Chairman Robert S. Insolia and Managing Partner Mark T. Bettencourt decided to send a message out to the firm, given the anticipated ruling in Dobbs. And wooboy, is it a doozy. One tipster called it “unacceptable and an outrage!” while another begged Above the Law to “roast” the firm. Under the sus subject line “Common Ground,” they start out by noting the Dobbs decision is expected soon. But then things go off the rails:
This decision — whether to affirm, modify or overturn Roe v. wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey — will be a divisive one, and will be deeply disappointing to some members of community and welcome news to others.
The actual fuck? This gives big Charlottesville “very fine people on both sides” energy.
No matter how strongly we may feel at the moment, we should remind ourselves that we strive to build a firm where everyone feels they belong, regardless of political, religious and other beliefs and practices.
Tell me your rights aren’t the ones being abrogated without telling me your rights aren’t the ones being abrogated.
Seriously, Rob and Mark, this isnt some academic exercise where reasonable minds can agree to disagree. It’s the denial of a fundamental right and destroying access to (and potentially criminalizing) a life-saving medical procedure. But sure guys, let’s be way more concerned about whether conversation at the water cooler remains cordial. PRIORITIES.
In the epic battle between politeness and defending constitutional rights, Goodwin has cast its lot with politeness. That’s… not a good look.
Doing so helps ensure that despite our differences, we have shared beliefs and principles that unite us and around which we can coalesce.
If the firm won’t stick up for the rights of 43% of its attorneys, what the fuck are the “shared principles” folks at the firm are supposed to “coalesce” around? The desire to make a shit ton of money?
It shouldn’t be difficult to muster more concern for those whose rights are under attack than for those who want to gloat we are another step closer to theocratic rule, but here we are. This attempt at measured reasonableness reads as absolute bullshit draped in a veneer of respectability. This is the worst kind of gaslighting that patronizes people who are angry their rights are being taken away in front of their very eyes to PLEASE KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN.
Honestly, the more I read this email, the angrier I get. And judging by the comments Above the Law has been receiving by the bucketful from folks at the firm, I am far from alone. It doesn’t matter all the accolades the firm receives (seriously they were just honored as a top firm for women, but um, this email tells a VERY different story) when they care more about the emptiness of being “nice” in the face of an outright assault on constitutional protections.
Given the anticipated loss of reproductive freedom, there’s been an influx of support from Biglaw. Twenty-three major law firms have come together to create the Legal Alliance for Reproductive Rights to provide pro bono civil and criminal defenses. And that’s far from the only time Biglaw has stepped into the breach to defend abortion rights, putting their money where their mouth is.
And those are wonderful responses that truly demonstrate a firm’s priorities. But, hell, literally doing nothing would have been superior than the drivel that Goodwin put out.
You can read the full email from the firm on the next page.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1,