Biglaw Associate Says He Was Fired As Part Of ‘Political Purge’

men men discrimination cookie cutter paper dollIt ain’t easy being cheesy, or a conservative in Biglaw these days. That’s the message we’re hearing — again. And though it’s easy to disprove, it’s a pernicious take that’s making the rounds. The latest incarnation is a story on about William D. Brown Jr., a former associate at McCarter & English who claims he was fired from the Biglaw firm as part of a “political purge.”

Oh jeez. There’s no cross quite so high as one a right winger puts themselves on. Okay, fine. You’ve got me. Let’s delve into Brown’s story.

Brown was let go from McCarter & English in December of 2023 due to a LinkedIn post about “gangsta rap” and violence in the Muslim world. At least, that’s Brown’s take — McCarter & English would only say they’re “unable to comment on personnel matters.”

Let’s start with the reminder — LinkedIn is a professional forum, you don’t need to post every thought there. But let’s dive into what Brown said.

The post that prompted his firing referenced Brown’s experience serving as a Navy SEAL in Iraq, where, he wrote, “There are many beautiful and tolerant Muslims, but the textual language within the Koran is far from tolerant.”

Ummmm, if we want to talk about religious texts that are intolerant, let’s talk about the Bible. Because in Violence & Theology, Professor John J. Collins of the Yale Divinity School explains how little tolerance the Canaanites were shown:

The Book of Exodus tells us that “the Lord is a man of war.” In the ancient world, gods were supposed to defend their people and help them in battle, and the God of Israel was no different in this respect. The most problematic part of the biblical account, however, is surely the conquest of Canaan. According to Deuteronomy, the Israelites were to destroy the people of the land utterly. “Make no covenant with them and show them no mercy.” Rather: “break down their altars, smash their pillars, hew down their sacred poles and burn their idols with fire. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples of the earth.”1 The Book of Joshua describes how this commandment was carried out. Because Israel is the chosen people, it may, and is even commanded to, destroy any people that seem to obstruct its mission.

Brown’s post continued:

The post went on to say that ”[i]t’s my opinion that there’s also a radical culture within the Islamic world that promotes anti social values and glorifies violence. This has had a devastating impact on millions of young and easily influenced lives.”

Speaking of religious texts that justify real life violence, again from Collins:

The violence towards the Canaanites must be balanced against the humanistic aspects of Deuteronomic law. But the violence remains, and it has had fateful consequences in western history. The English Puritan revolution was justified repeatedly by biblical analogies drawn from the Old Testament. Oliver Cromwell drew a parallel between his revolution and the Exodus, and proceeded to treat the Catholics of Ireland as the Canaanites. He even declared that “there are great occasions in which some men are called to great services in the doing of which they are excused from the common rule of morality,”7 as were the heroes of the Old Testament. A generation later, the Puritans of New England applied the biblical texts about the conquest to their own situation, casting the native American Indians in the role of the Canaanites and Amalekites. In 1689, Cotton Mather urged the colonists to go forth against “Amalek annoying this Israel in the wilderness.”8 A few years later, one Herbert Gibbs gave thanks for “the mercies of God in extirpating the enemies of Israel in Canaan.” He was not referring to biblical times. Similar rhetoric persisted in American Puritanism through the 18th century, and indeed biblical analogies have continued to play a part in American political rhetoric down to the present.9

So maybe not the slam dunk of an argument that Brown supposes it is.

But Brown also used LinkedIn to trot out the problematic trope of rap music causing violence.

The posting also said that “[t]he promotion of anti-social values and the glorification of violence and drugs portrayed in gangsta rap had a huge negative influence on the many young and easily impressionable American black youth.”

Hmmm, notice how Taylor Swift catches no heat for singing “No Body, No Crime” nor did The Chicks when they wrote how Earl had to die. WHAT COULD BE DIFFERENT? Listen, literal dissertations have been written analyzing violent lyrics and the impact of rap music on Black culture, but I promise you none of that nuance is captured in Brown’s post.

Regardless, Brown says he stopped getting work from the bankruptcy group — he was an associate in that practice area — when Joseph Lubertazzi was elevated to chair. Brown thinks that was because of his political posts on LinkedIn. “When Lubertazzi became chair, it’s my opinion that he wanted to distance himself and the firm from me because he wanted me to go,” Brown said. Which… he bases on vibes, I guess? I dunno, there’s not much by the way of concrete evidence as to why Brown thinks Lubertazzi distanced himself.

But he says it got harder when he asked his colleagues for a referral. Wait… that doesn’t make much sense. Networking is a vital part of lawyering and referrals are a fantastic way to cement a professional relationship.

Then, when another former Navy SEAL friend asked Brown to recommend a criminal defense lawyer, Brown got a lukewarm response from colleagues.

The friend and his son were being questioned by the FBI because they were at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, the day of the insurrection, although Brown said they “didn’t do anything wrong.”

Other attorneys at the firm showed little interest in making a recommendation, Brown said.

OOOOOhhhhhhhh. Well, now that makes a little more sense. The stink of insurrection and all that.

Brown also complained that he wasn’t put on the firm’s diversity, equity, and inclusion committee to represent veterans. He complained the DEI committee didn’t commemorate 9/11. He complained about the work he didn’t get assigned at the firm. Honestly, it sounds like he was pretty unhappy at the firm.

But that doesn’t play with the story Brown is selling.

He also notes in the article that he does volunteer work:

Brown puts on an annual fundraiser in which Navy SEALS and other athletes swim from Jersey City, New Jersey, to the Statute of Liberty, then to Ellis Island, and finally to Battery Park in Manhattan, where they carry American flags on a run to the World Trade Center site.

As if people who do fundraising are immune from being fired for cause. But being a former Navy SEAL who is a PATRIOT seems way more relevant to Brown than the bankruptcy work he was hired to perform.

So obsessed with that fundraiser is Brown that it’s used to promote the story about the unrelated discrimination he allegedly experienced as a conservative in Biglaw.

Screen Shot 2024-02-28 at 4.40.35 PM

Hmmm… A topless photo? Provided as a courtesy to promote this terrible tale of discrimination? Very serious, very professional.

Part of being a counselor is using discretion and judgment, particularly in professional settings. Based on the very little I’ve been able to glean about Brown from this article, wouldn’t shock me if McCarter & English had very justified concerns in this area.

The telling of Brown’s story is all just in service to a larger narrative of conservative victimization. And you know how you *know* this is about getting publicity and maybe even hitting the talk show circuit to complain about the “bias in Biglaw” and not about some grave injustice? It’s a bunch of quotes from a self-serving article in ALM, not from a complaint. The article says Brown is considering litigation, but so far, nothing burger. Indeed, Brown has been such a desperado to get his version of the facts out there he’s been shopping his story to Above the Law and other media outlets. Well, Brownie, we are talking about you… but something tells me you won’t be happy about it.

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 or Mastodon


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *